Contextualism: An explanation and defense

In John Greco & Ernest Sosa (eds.), The Blackwell Guide to Epistemology. Oxford, UK: Blackwell. pp. 187--205 (1998)
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Abstract

In epistemology, “contextualism” denotes a wide variety of more-or-less closely related positions according to which the issues of knowledge or justification are somehow relative to context. I will proceed by first explicating the position I call contextualism, and distinguishing that position from some closely related positions in epistemology, some of which sometimes also go by the name of “contextualism”. I’ll then present and answer what seems to many the most pressing of the objections to contextualism as I construe it, and also indicate some of the main positive motivations for accepting the view. Among the epistemologists I’ve spoken with who have an opinion on the matter, I think it’s fair to say a majority reject contextualism. However, the resistance has to this point been largely underground, with little by way of sustained arguments against contextualism appearing in the journals,[i] though I have begun to see various papers in manuscript form which are critical of contextualism. Here, I’ll respond the criticism of contextualism that, in my travels, I have found to be the most pervasive in producing suspicion about the view.

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Keith DeRose
Yale University

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Contrastive causation.Jonathan Schaffer - 2005 - Philosophical Review 114 (3):327-358.
Cause and Norm.Christopher Hitchcock & Joshua Knobe - 2009 - Journal of Philosophy 106 (11):587-612.
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References found in this work

On assertion and indicative conditionals.Frank Jackson - 1979 - Philosophical Review 88 (4):565-589.
A Contextualist Theory of Epistemic Justification.David B. Annis - 1978 - American Philosophical Quarterly 15 (3):213 - 219.
Knowledge and belief.Norman Malcolm - 1952 - Mind 61 (242):178-189.
Studies in the Way of Words. [REVIEW]H. G. Zilian - 1991 - Grazer Philosophische Studien 39 (1):195-213.

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