Topic: HUMAN SEMANTICS
By Brian Weatherson
There are currently a dizzying variety of theories on the market holding that whether an utterance of the form S knows that p is true depends on pragmatic or contextual factors. Even if we allow that pragmatics matters, there are two questions to be answered. First, which kind of pragmatic factors matter? Broadly speaking, the debate here is about whether practical interests (the stakes involved) or intellectual interests (which propositions are being considered) are most important. Second, whose interests matter? Here there are three options: the interests of S matter, the interests of the person making the knowledge ascription matter, or the interests of the person evaluating the ascription matter.
This paper is about the second question. I’m going to present some data from the behaviour of questions about who knows what that show it is not the interests of the person making the knowledge ascription that matter. This means the view normally known as contextualism about knowledge-ascriptions is false. Since that term is a little contested, and for some suggests merely the view that someone’s context matters, I’ll introduce three different terms for the three answers to the second question.• Environmentalism – The interests of S, i.e. her environment, matter.
• Indexicalism – The interests of the person making the knowledge ascription matter, so ‘know’ behaves like an indexical term.
• Relativism – The interests of the person evaluating the knowledge ascription matter, so knowledge ascriptions are not true or false simpliciter but only relative to an evaluator.
Posted by Tony Marmo at 05:40 BSTUpdated: Friday, 10 June 2005 05:42 BST