Epistemic invariantism and contextualist intuitions

Episteme 13 (2):219-232 (2016)
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Epistemic invariantism, or invariantism for short, is the position that the proposition expressed by knowledge sentences does not vary with the epistemic standard of the context in which these sentences can be used. At least one of the major challenges for invariantism is to explain our intuitions about scenarios such as the so-called bank cases. These cases elicit intuitions to the effect that the truth-value of knowledge sentences varies with the epistemic standard of the context in which these sentences can be used. In this paper, I will defend invariantism against this challenge by advocating the following, somewhat deflationary account of the bank case intuitions: Readers of the bank cases assign different truth-values to the knowledge claims in the bank cases because they interpret these scenarios such that the epistemic position of the subject in question differs between the high and the low standards case. To substantiate this account, I will argue, first, that the bank cases are underspecified even with respect to features that should uncontroversially be relevant for the epistemic position of the subject in question. Second, I will argue that readers of the bank cases will fill in these features differently in the low and the high standards case. In particular, I will argue that there is a variety of reasons to think that the fact that an error-possibility is mentioned in the high standards case will lead readers to assume that this error-possibility is supposed to be likely in the high standards case.
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First archival date: 2015-08-21
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