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In Conversation with the Skeptic: Contextualism and the Raising of Standards

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I begin by describing the solution to the problem of skepticism propounded by contextualists, which constitutes the background of the rest of the paper. I then address the question of what happens when a skeptic and a non-skeptic are confronted in dialogue to the standards in play for correct knowledge ascription, on the assumption that contextualism about knowledge is right. I argue against Keith DeRose that there are reasons, both intuitive and theoretical, to conclude that the standards will be raised in such a way as to make the skeptic’s denials of knowledge true. Next, I argue, again against DeRose, for the claim that that conclusion has significant theoretical consequences. In particular, I argue that, if the standards do tend to rise, then there is a serious problem for contextualist answers to skepticism. The problem, which is sometimes called the factivity problem, is that the contextualist position is not possible to state properly unless we know in the theoretical context that skeptical hypotheses do not hold.

Affiliations: 1: University of Köln,


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