David Chabot – Epistemic Invariantism and Assertion: A Pragmatic Solution to the Contextualist Challenge
McGill Philosophy Workshop
Epistemic Invariantism and Assertion: A Pragmatic Solution to the Contextualist Challenge
Monday, December 7, at 1:30pm in Leacock 927.
Epistemic Contextualism is the view that ‘know-that’ behaves like an indexical: its content varies from one context to another depending onthe epistemic standards in place. This means that a mere change in context (raising the epistemic standards) can affect the truth-value of sentences of the form ‘S knows that p’. ‘Classic invariantism’ denies this: whether S’s true belief that p should count as knowledgedepends only on whether S’s belief that p was formed reliably (orwhether S has appropriate evidence for p). In Assertion, Knowledge, and Context, DeRose presents what I take to be the most powerful argument against Epistemic Invariantism which is that the variability in warranted assertability coupled with the Knowledge Account of Assertion (One is in position to assert p only if one knows that p) entails Epistemic Contextualism. In this paper, I argue that a slightly modified version of Grice’s conversational maxims can explain the data used to promote the Knowledge Account as well as the intuitions behind Epistemic Contextualism. If my argument is sound,it follows that there is no reason why we should accept Epistemic Contextualism. I conclude the paper with some remarks on skeptical arguments.