Error possibility, Contextualism, and Bias

Wesley Buckwalter

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Abstract

A central theoretical motivation for epistemic contextualism is that it can explain something that invariantism cannot. Specifically, contextualism claims that judgments
about “knowledge” are sensitive to the salience of error possibilities and that this is
explained by the fact that salience shifts the evidential standard required to truthfully
say someone “knows” something when those possibilities are made salient. This paper
presents evidence that undermines this theoretical motivation for epistemic contextualism. Specifically, it demonstrates that while error salience does sometimes impact “knowledge” judgments as contextualism predicts, it does so in ways that are consistent with invariantism and does not require positing any additional contextualist
semantics to explain. These results advance our understanding of the pathways by
which error possibility affects “knowledge” judgments, answer a major challenge
to invariantism, and suggest several methodological improvements for the study of
knowledge attribution.
Original languageEnglish
JournalSynthese
Early online date4 May 2019
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 4 May 2019

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