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What's Wrong with Contextualism?

John Greco
The Philosophical Quarterly (1950-)
Vol. 58, No. 232 (Jul., 2008), pp. 416-436
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/40208635
Page Count: 21
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What's Wrong with Contextualism?
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Abstract

This paper addresses two worries that might be raised about contextualism in epistemology and that carry over to its moral analogues: that contextualism robs epistemology (and moral theory) of a proper subject-matter, and that contextualism robs knowledge claims (and moral claims) of their objectivity. Two theses are defended: (1) that these worries are appropriately directed at interestdependent theories in general rather than at contextualism in particular, and (2) that the two worries are over-stated in any case. Finally, the paper offers some considerations in favour of attributor contextualism over 'subject-sensitive invariantism', both in epistemology and in moral theory. But here we note an interesting result: the very considerations that support contextualism as a semantic thesis, threaten to rob that position of its anti-sceptical force.

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