Contextualist Approaches to Epistemology: Problems and Prospects
In this paper we survey some main arguments for and against epistemological contextualism. We distinguish and discuss various kinds of contextualism, such as attributed contextualism (the most influential version of which is semantic, conversational, or radical contextualism); indexicalism; proto-contextualism; Wittgensteinian contextualism; subject, inferential, or issue contextualism; epistemic contextualism; and virtue contextualism. Starting with a sketch of Dretskes Relevant Alternatives Theory and Nozicks Tracking Account of Knowledge, we reconstruct the history of various forms of contextualism and the ways contextualists try to handle some notorious epistemological quandaries, especially skepticism and the lottery paradox. Then we outline the most important problems that contextualist theories face, and give overviews of their criticisms and defenses as developed in this issue.