Epistemic Contextualism: An Idle Hypothesis

Australasian Journal of Philosophy 95 (1):141-156 (2017)
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Epistemic contextualism is one of the most hotly debated topics in contemporary epistemology. Contextualists claim that ‘know’ is a context-sensitive verb associated with different evidential standards in different contexts. Contextualists motivate their view based on a set of behavioural claims. In this paper, I show that several of these behavioural claims are false. I also show that contextualist test cases suffer from a critical confound, which derives from people's tendency to defer to speakers’ statements about their own mental states. My evidence consists in results from several behavioural experiments. I conclude that contextualism is an idle hypothesis and I propose some general methodological lessons.

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John Turri
University of Waterloo


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