Contextualist Approaches to Epistemology: Problems and Prospects

  • Elke Brendel
  • Christoph Jäger


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 Dretske’s Relevant Alternatives Theory and Nozick’s 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.


Knowledge Claim Epistemic Position Knowledge Ascription Relevant Alternative CONTEXTUALIST Approach 
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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elke Brendel
    • 1
  • Christoph Jäger
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyJohannes Gutenberg UniversityMainzGermany
  2. 2.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of AberdeenAberdeenUK

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