AuthorRysiew, Patrick William
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractTraditional epistemology is universalistic, in that it proceeds on the assumption that we can fully specify conditions making for the correctness of attributions of knowledge (/justified belief) without adverting to 'context'. In Chapter 1 examples are adduced which cast doubt on this assumption, since they seem to show that the very 'contents' of such attributions are 'context-dependent'. But even if some form of 'contextualism' is thereby shown to be correct, if we are to avoid resting content with the foregoing near-platitudinous observation, we need to address the following two questions: How exactly should we conceive of "context"? And in what way, exactly, does context affect the 'content' of those attributions? More precisely, does context affect what is literally expressed by a given knowledge-attributing sentence (as the semantic contextualist claims) or does it affect what the speaker means by the utterance of that sentence (as the pragmatic contextualist maintains)? Here it is argued that 'context' is a psychological notion, referring to the psychology of the speaker (perhaps qua member of some larger group). Further, it is argued that in addition to its being favored both by a correct understanding of the notion of context itself and by methodological considerations, pragmatic contextualism avoids the intractable problems faced by the semantic contextualist. Finally, the broader implications for epistemology of the foregoing results are explored, and their application to non-epistemological theories/areas are indicated.
Degree ProgramGraduate College