Contextualism, subject-sensitive invariantism, and knowledge of knowledge

Philosophical Quarterly 55 (219):213–235 (2005)
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§I schematises the evidence for an understanding of ‘know’ and other terms of epistemic appraisal that embodies contextualism or subject-sensitive invariantism, and distinguishes between those two approaches. §II argues that although the cases for contextualism and sensitive invariantism rely on a principle of charity in the interpretation of epistemic claims, neither approach satisfies charity fully, since both attribute metalinguistic errors to speakers. §III provides an equally charitable anti-sceptical insensitive invariantist explanation of much of the same evidence as the result of psychological bias caused by salience effects. §IV suggests that the explanation appears to have implausible consequences about practical reasoning, but also that applications of contextualism or sensitive invariantism to the problem of scepticism have such consequences. §V argues that the inevitable difference between appropriateness and knowledge of appropriateness in practical reasoning, closely related to the difference between knowledge and knowledge of knowledge, explains the apparent implausibility.



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Timothy Williamson
University of Oxford

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References found in this work

Elusive knowledge.David K. Lewis - 1996 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 74 (4):549 – 567.
Epistemic operators.Fred I. Dretske - 1970 - Journal of Philosophy 67 (24):1007-1023.
Contextualism and knowledge attributions.Keith DeRose - 1992 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 52 (4):913-929.
Contextualism, skepticism, and the structure of reasons.Stewart Cohen - 1999 - Philosophical Perspectives 13:57-89.

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