CONTEXTUALISM AND CONTEXT VOLUNTARISM (pages 125-136)

David COSS

ABSTRACT: Contextualism is the view that the word ‘knows’ is context sensitive. While contextualism developed as a response to skepticism, there’s concern that it’s too easy for skeptics to undermine ordinary knowledge attributions. Once skeptical hypotheses are made salient, the skeptic seems to win. I first outline contextualism and its response to skepticism. I then explicate the resources contextualists have for protecting ordinary knowledge claims from skeptical worries. I argue that the dominate strains of contexualism naturally lend themselves to a restricted form of context voluntarism, according to which attributors (or subjects) can exercise a degree of voluntary control over the epistemically significant aspects of a conversational context, and consequently, ordinary knowledge attributions are true in a wide range of cases where skeptical hypotheses are entertained.

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