Skepticism, Contextualism, and Discrimination

JONATHAN SCHAFFER
2004 Philosophy and Phenomenological Research  
The skeptic says that "knowledge" is an absolute term, whereas the contextualist says that 'knowledge" is a relationally absolute term. Which is the better hypothesis about "knowledge"? And what implications do these hypotheses about "knowledge" have for knowledge? I argue that the skeptic has the better hypothesis about "knowledge", but that both hypotheses about "knowledge" have deeply anti-skeptical implications for knowledge, since both presuppose our capacity for epistemically salient
more » ... imination. The skeptic (following Peter Unger 1975) says that "knowledge" is an absolute term, requiring the elimination of all logical possibilities of falsehood. The contextualist (following David Lewis 1979, Fred Dretske 1981, inter alia) says that "knowledge" is a relationally absolute term, requiring the elimination of only the contextually relevant possibilities of falsehood. Which is the better hypothesis about the word "knowledge"? And what if any implications do these hypotheses about the word "knowledge" have for the relation of knowledge? I argue that (i) it is the skeptic who has the better hypothesis about "knowledge"; but (ii) both the skeptical and contextualist hypotheses presuppose our capacity for epistemically salient discrimination, where (iii) such discrimination reveals why skeptical scenarios fail to undermine our epistemic standing. There is a deeply anti-skeptical morale buried in the skepticismcontextualism dispute.
doi:10.1111/j.1933-1592.2004.tb00387.x fatcat:mi3l7xxi3ba5lcd72ne5bicsxm