Brains and barns: The role of *context in epistemic attribution

2004 2004

Other formats: Order a copy

Abstract (summary)

The topic of the dissertation is this: How well does contextualism, in general, fare as an epistemic theory? And the answer comes in three parts.

The root of the skeptical problem. I argue that the source of the skeptical problem is neither the underdetermination principle nor the closure principle. Instead, I claim that it is a change in context that generates the problem in the first place. Though I make no explicit argument in favor of contextualism as a solution to skeptical problems, the chapter amounts to a de facto defense of the contextualist solution to skeptical problems.

The problem with Gettier. I consider criticisms of contextualism's capacity to resolve Gettier cases. As it stands, Lewis' contextualism can't resolve a wide range of Gettier cases. However, I offer a new rule, the Rule of Special Similarity, as a replacement rule for Lewis' Rule of Resemblance. I then show how the new rule, though not problem-free, can do a much better job of resolving the Gettier problem. Contextualism, then, needn't fail because it can't solve Gettier problems; it can.

The ways of context. One goal is to get a clear map of the territory, one that underscores the fact that precisely how context is incorporated into the theory matters epistemically. Another is to make the point that contextualism—the claim that context plays an essential semantic role in knowledge ascriptions—is not just one particular view, but a family of similar views. Also, I offer a new kind of contextualism that avoids many of the substantial criticisms aimed at the others in the family.

Though the primary aim of the dissertation is a defense in three parts of the contextualist approach I general, a view emerges from the dissertation. I call the view condexicalism, and the dissertation is, secondarily, a development and defense of that view.

Indexing (details)

0422: Philosophy
Identifier / keyword
Philosophy, religion and theology; Context; Epistemic attribution; Skepticism
Brains and barns: The role of *context in epistemic attribution
Petty, Julie M.
Number of pages
Publication year
Degree date
School code
DAI-A 66/02, Dissertation Abstracts International
Place of publication
Ann Arbor
Country of publication
United States
9780496976843, 0496976842
Feldman, Fred
University of Massachusetts Amherst
University location
United States -- Massachusetts
Source type
Dissertations & Theses
Document type
Dissertation/thesis number
ProQuest document ID
Database copyright ProQuest LLC; ProQuest does not claim copyright in the individual underlying works.
Document URL
Access the complete full text

You can get the full text of this document if it is part of your institution's ProQuest subscription.

Try one of the following:

  • Connect to ProQuest through your library network and search for the document from there.
  • Request the document from your library.
  • Go to the ProQuest login page and enter a ProQuest or My Research username / password.