, Volume 39, Issue 4, pp 741-750

First online:

Interests Contextualism

  • Robin McKennaAffiliated withSchool of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences, University of Edinburgh Email author 

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In this paper I develop a version of contextualism that I call interests contextualism. Interests contextualism is the view that the truth-conditions of knowledge ascribing and denying sentences are partly determined by the ascriber’s interests and purposes. It therefore stands in opposition to the usual view on which the truth-conditions are partly determined by the ascriber’s conversational context. I give an argument against one particular implementation of the usual view, differentiate interests contextualism from other prominent versions of contextualism and argue that, unlike those versions, interests contextualism can mitigate against the epistemic descent objection put forward by Duncan Pritchard in his ‘Contextualism, Scepticism, and the Problem of Epistemic Descent’ (the objection is that, on the contextualist view, an ascriber of knowledge cannot, for some subject S and proposition p, properly ascribe knowledge that p to S if that ascriber has previously retracted an earlier ascription of knowledge that p to S).


Epistemology Contextualism Practical interests Salience Epistemic descent