Virtues, social roles, and contextualism

Metaphilosophy 41 (1-2):95-114 (2010)
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Abstract

: Contextualism in epistemology has been proposed both as a way to avoid skepticism and as an explanation for the variability found in our use of "knows." When we turn to contextualism to perform these two functions, we should ensure that the version we endorse is well suited for these tasks. I compare two versions of epistemic contextualism: attributor contextualism and methodological contextualism. I argue that methodological contextualism is superior both in its response to skepticism and in its mechanism for changing contexts. However, methodological contextualism still faces two challenges: explaining why we are solidly committed to some contexts, and explaining why knowledge within a context is valuable. I propose virtue contextualism as a useful extension of methodological contextualism, focusing on the way that our virtues depend on our social roles. My proposed virtue contextualism retains the benefits of methodological contextualism while explaining both our commitment to particular contexts and the value of knowledge held within those contexts

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Sarah Wright
University of Georgia

References found in this work

Philosophical explanations.Robert Nozick - 1981 - Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
Studies in the way of words.Herbert Paul Grice - 1989 - Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
Elusive knowledge.David Lewis - 1996 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 74 (4):549 – 567.
Ignorance: A Case for Scepticism.Peter K. Unger - 1975 - Oxford [Eng.]: Oxford University Press.

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