Knowledge, conservatism, and pragmatics

Synthese 191 (14):3239-3269 (2014)
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The apparent contextual variability exhibited by ‘knows’ and its cognates—brought to attention in examples like Keith DeRose’s Bank Case—poses familiar problems for conservative forms of invariantism about ‘knows’. The paper examines and criticises a popular response to those problems, one that involves appeal to so-called ‘pragmatic’ features of language. It is first argued, contrary to what seems to have been generally assumed, that any pragmatic defence faces serious problems with regard to our judgments about retraction. Second, the familiar objection that the pragmatic effects at issue do not seem to be cancellable is considered. Advocates of the pragmatic defence have suggested that cancellability concerns can be dealt with fairly readily. It is shown both that their recent attempts to respond to those concerns, and some other possible attempts, are unsuccessful. Finally, it is argued that the popular relevance-based accounts, found in the work of Jessica Brown, Alan Hazlett, and Patrick Rysiew, fail to provide a satisfactory explanation of our judgments



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References found in this work

Knowledge and lotteries.John Hawthorne - 2004 - New York: Oxford University Press.
Knowledge and practical interests.Jason Stanley - 2005 - New York: Oxford University Press.
Knowledge in an uncertain world.Jeremy Fantl & Matthew McGrath - 2009 - New York: Oxford University Press. Edited by Matthew McGrath.
A Natural History of Negation.Laurence R. Horn - 1989 - University of Chicago Press.

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