Knowledge and cancelability

Synthese 199 (1-2):397-405 (2021)
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Keith DeRose and Stewart Cohen object to the fallibilist strand of pragmatic invariantism regarding knowledge ascriptions that it is committed to non-cancelable pragmatic implications. I show that this objection points us to an asymmetry about which aspects of the conveyed content of knowledge ascriptions can be canceled: we can cancel those aspects that ascribe a lesser epistemic standing to the subject but not those that ascribe a better or perfect epistemic standing. This situation supports the infallibilist strand of pragmatic invariantism according to which knowledge semantically requires absolute certainty but this claim is often pragmatically weakened: it turns out that exactly those aspects of the conveyed content are cancelable that this view claims are pragmatic. I also argue that attributor contextualism and relativism do not have an alternative explanation of this phenomenon.

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Tammo Lossau
Universit├Ąt Bremen


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