Literature/1978/Annis

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Annis, David B. (1978). "A Contextualist Theory of Epistemic Justification," American Philosophical Quarterly, 15(3): 213–219.

Excerpts[edit]

  • man is a social animal ... when it comes to the justification of beliefs philosophers have tended to ignore this fact (p. 215)
  • Suppose we are interested in whether Jones, an ordinary non-medically trained person, has the general information that polio is caused by a virus. If his response to our question is that he remembers the paper reporting that Salk said it was, then this is good enough. He has performed adequately given the issue-context. But suppose the context is an examination for the M. D. degree. Here we expect a lot more. If the candidate simply said what Jones did, we would take him as being very deficient in knowledge. Thus relative to one issue-context a person may be justified in believing h but not justified relative to another context. (p. 215)

Reviews[edit]

Patrick Rysiew
http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/contextualism-epistemology/

... among some philosophers there was an increasing emphasis on regarding epistemic subjects, activities, and/or accomplishments, as deeply 'social' in ways typically overlooked and unappreciated. (For some discussion, see Goldman 2007.) Included here is Richard Rorty's (1979) espousal of 'epistemological behaviorism', as he calls it, as well as perhaps the first explicit statement of a "contextualist" epistemic theory by David Annis. According Annis, while "man is a social animal ... when it comes to the justification of beliefs philosophers have tended to ignore this fact" (1978, 215) -- more specifically, they have tended to ignore the existence of "contextual parameters essential to justification" (ibid., 213). Thus, as Annis sees it, both foundationalists and coherentists depict justification as a function of certain facts about the subject alone, considered in isolation from his/her social environment ('context'). According to Annis, however, this picture fails to do justice to what is in fact the social character of justification. For instance:

Suppose we are interested in whether Jones, an ordinary non-medically trained person, has the general information that polio is caused by a virus. If his response to our question is that he remembers the paper reporting that Salk said it was, then this is good enough. He has performed adequately given the issue-context. But suppose the context is an examination for the M. D. degree. Here we expect a lot more. If the candidate simply said what Jones did, we would take him as being very deficient in knowledge. Thus relative to one issue-context a person may be justified in believing h but not justified relative to another context. (Ibid., 215)

Wikimedia[edit]

Chronology[edit]

  • Literature/1975/Annis [^]
  • Unger, P., 1975, Ignorance: A Case for Skepticism, New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Goldman, A., 1976, "Discrimination and Perceptual Knowledge", The Journal of Philosophy, 73: 771–791.
  • Stine, Gail C., 1976, "Skepticism, Relevant Alternatives, and Deductive Closure". Philosophical Studies, 29: 249–261.
  • Annis, David B. (1978). "A Contextualist Theory of Epistemic Justification," American Philosophical Quarterly, 15(3): 213–219. [^]
  • Lewis, D., 1979, "Scorekeeping in a Language Game", Journal of Philosophical Logic, 8: 339–359.
  • Rorty, Richard (1979). Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature. Princeton University Press. [^]
  • Castañeda, H., 1980, "The Theory of Questions, Epistemic Powers, and the Indexical Theory of Knowledge", Midwest Studies in Philosophy, 5: 193–237.
  • Harman, G., 1980, "Reasoning and Explanatory Coherence", American Philosophical Quarterly, 17: 151–158.
  • Searle, J. R., 1980, "The Background of Meaning", in Speech Act Theory and Pragmatics, J. Searle, F. Kiefer, and M. Bierwisch eds., Reidel, pp. 221–232.
  • Dretske, F., 1981, Knowledge and the Flow of Information, Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press. Reprinted in 1999, Stanford: CSLI Publications.
  • Nozick, R., 1981, Philosophical Explanations, Harvard, MA: Harvard University Press.
  • Yourgrau, P., 1983, "Knowledge and Relevant Alternatives", Synthese, 55: 175–190.
  • McGinn, C., 1984, "The Concept of Knowledge", Midwest Studies in Philosophy, 9: 529–554.
  • Unger, P., 1984, Philosophical Relativity, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
  • Cohen, S., 1986, "Knowledge and Context", The Journal of Philosophy, 83: 574–583.
  • Pollock, J. L., 1986, Contemporary Theories of Knowledge, Savage, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield.
  • Sosa, E., 1986, "On Knowledge and Context", The Journal of Philosophy, 83: 584–585.
  • Grice, H. P., 1989, Studies in the Way of Words, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
  • Williams, M., 1991, Unnatural Doubts: Epistemological Realism and the Basis of Skepticism, Cambridge, MA: Blackwell.
  • DeRose, K., 1992, "Contextualism and Knowledge Attributions", Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 52(4): 913–929.

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Gradient-optical-illusion.svg
The shade of the bar looks invariant in isolation but variant in context, in (favor of) sharp contrast with the color gradient background, hence an innate illusion we have to reasonably interpret and overcome as well as the mirage. Such variance appearing seasonably from context to context may not only be the case with our vision but worldview in general in practice indeed, whether a priori or a posteriori. Perhaps no worldview from nowhere, without any point of view or prejudice at all!

Ogden & Richards (1923) said, "All experience ... is either enjoyed or interpreted ... or both, and very little of it escapes some degree of interpretation."

H. G. Wells (1938) said, "The human individual is born now to live in a society for which his fundamental instincts are altogether inadequate."