Epistemic contextualism and linguistic behavior

Wesley Buckwalter

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Epistemic contextualism is the theory that “knows” is a context sensitive expression. As a linguistic theory, epistemic contextualism is motivated by claims about the linguistic behavior of competent speakers. This chapter reviews evidence in experimental cognitive science for epistemic contextualism in linguistic behavior. This research demonstrates that although some observations that are consistent with epistemic contextualism can be confirmed in linguistic practices, these observations are also equally well explained both by psychological features that do not provide support for contextualism and by rival theories that are inconsistent with contextualism. I conclude that the motivation for epistemic contextualism is underdetermined by existing experimental evidence, yielding little reason to accept it as an account of our actual linguistic practices.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Routledge Handbook of Epistemic Contextualism
EditorsJonathan Jenkins Ichikawa
Place of PublicationNew York
Number of pages13
ISBN (Electronic)9781315745275
ISBN (Print)9781138818392
Publication statusPublished - 16 Mar 2017


  • social cognition
  • knowledge
  • intuition
  • evidence
  • epistemic standards


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