Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Honors Thesis Defense

Rachel Moger-Reischer will defend her honors thesis, "Knowledge in Context" on Friday the 20th at noon in Olin 266.
Abstract: Cartesian skepticism is a problem that has plagued epistemology for centuries. Historically, attempts to solve this problem have dissolved in failure as soon as they got off the ground. These sorts of attempts all had something in common: they were invariantist theories. That is, theories that maintain that truth-conditions of knowledge claims remain invariant under changes in conversational and epistemic context. In the 1970s, a new line of thought was considered. Contextualism states that truth-conditions depend on context. Thus, I may know some ordinary claim while in a context with low standards for knowledge, but not while in a context with high epistemic standards. For example, the statement ‘I know that I have hands’ may be true when I’m walking down Market Street, but not when I’m in epistemology class considering Putnam’s Brain in a Vat argument. While contextualism seems to have the potential to successfully counter skepticism, the view is underspecified. In this paper, I will unify competing contextualist theories and give greater coherence and clarity to view. I will both respond to objections and fill in the holes in the contextualist theory indicated by problems Pritchard and Neta raise.
All are welcome to attend.