Philosophical Studies

, Volume 162, Issue 3, pp 585–603

Relativism, sceptical paradox, and semantic blindness


DOI: 10.1007/s11098-011-9783-5

Cite this article as:
Kindermann, D. Philos Stud (2013) 162: 585. doi:10.1007/s11098-011-9783-5


Relativism about knowledge attributions is the view that a single occurrence of ‘S knows [does not know] that p’ may be true as assessed in one context and false as assessed in another context. It has been argued that relativism is equipped to accommodate all the data from speakers’ use of ‘know’ without recourse to an error theory. This is supposed to be relativism’s main advantage over contextualist and invariantist views. This paper argues that relativism does require the attribution of semantic blindness to speakers, viz. to account for sceptical paradoxes and epistemic closure puzzles. To that end, the notion of semantic blindness is clarified by distinguishing between content-blindness and index-blindness, and it is argued that the attribution of index-blindness required by the relativist account is implausible. Along the way, it is shown that error-theoretic objections from speakers’ inter-contextual judgments fail against relativism.


Knowledge attributions Relativism Error theory Semantic blindness Sceptical paradox Epistemic closure puzzles 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Arché, University of St AndrewsSt AndrewsUK

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