Brains and barns: The role of context in epistemic attribution

by Petty, Julie M

Abstract (Summary)
The topic of the dissertation is this: How well does contextualism, in general, fare as an epistemic theory? And the answer comes in three parts. The root of the skeptical problem . I argue that the source of the skeptical problem is neither the underdetermination principle nor the closure principle. Instead, I claim that it is a change in context that generates the problem in the first place. Though I make no explicit argument in favor of contextualism as a solution to skeptical problems, the chapter amounts to a de facto defense of the contextualist solution to skeptical problems. The problem with Gettier . I consider criticisms of contextualism's capacity to resolve Gettier cases. As it stands, Lewis' contextualism can't resolve a wide range of Gettier cases. However, I offer a new rule, the Rule of Special Similarity, as a replacement rule for Lewis' Rule of Resemblance. I then show how the new rule, though not problem-free, can do a much better job of resolving the Gettier problem. Contextualism, then, needn't fail because it can't solve Gettier problems; it can. The ways of context . One goal is to get a clear map of the territory, one that underscores the fact that precisely how context is incorporated into the theory matters epistemically. Another is to make the point that contextualism--the claim that context plays an essential semantic role in knowledge ascriptions--is not just one particular view, but a family of similar views. Also, I offer a new kind of contextualism that avoids many of the substantial criticisms aimed at the others in the family. Though the primary aim of the dissertation is a defense in three parts of the contextualist approach I general, a view emerges from the dissertation. I call the view condexicalism, and the dissertation is, secondarily, a development and defense of that view.
Bibliographical Information:


School:University of Massachusetts Amherst

School Location:USA - Massachusetts

Source Type:Master's Thesis



Date of Publication:01/01/2004

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