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Lecture 8

Philosophy 2500F/G Lecture Notes - Lecture 8: Epistemic Closure


Department
Philosophy
Course Code
PHIL 2500F/G
Professor
Steve Bland
Lecture
8

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Contextualism
the non sceptic can also accuse the sceptic of equivocating on the world ‘know’
the meaning of the word ‘ knowledge’ is intimately tied to the criteria that we use to
determine when it is that someone possesses knowledge
we tend to assume that these criteria are invariant (they remain the same in call
contexts)
contextualists insist that this assumption is mistaken- the standards that we use to
determine whether or not someone’s belief constituted knowledge will vary from one
context to another
in order to know what knowledge means, we must know when the word properly
applies
there are different standards that vary from context to context
inconsistent judgements can both be correct
if the criteria for knowledge is consistent, then this is a problem
the only way around this problem is to say that knowledge is contextual; use different
standards
thus, we must differentiate between at least two senses of the word “know”
know(h)- what we can be said to know according to a high standard
know(l)- what we can be said to know according to a low standard
which standard is being used is determined by context
there are many other words whose meaning is context-sensitive
given that the meaning of the word “know” is context sensitive, we must disambiguate
its meaning in the argument for scepticism
P1: if i know that i have hands, then i know that i am not a BIV
P2: i do not know that i am not a BIV
C: i do not know that i have hands
in most ordinary contexts the possibility of being wrong about one’s hands is not
salient, and therefore, one can properly attribute to one’s self the knowledge(l) that
they have hands
if you ask someone if they know that they have hands, they will either answer
affirmatively or walk away- they would know that they have hands
however, in philosophical contexts, the possibility of being wrong about one’s having
hands is salient, and therefore, one cannot properly attribute to one’s self the
knowledge(h) that they have hands
both moore and the sceptic are correct, but they are using the word “know” in
importantly two different senses
the sceptical argument:
P1: if i know(h) that i have hands, then i know(h) that i am not a BIV
P2: i do not know(h) that i am not a BIV
C: therefore, i do not know(h) that i have hands
moores argument:
P1: if i know(l) that i have hands, then i know(l) that i am not a BIV
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