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Contextualism in Theory of Knowledge Essay

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Updated: Dec 5th, 2020

The knowledge people perceive and present as the truth might be argued from the perspective of the context or situation in which the information is uttered. Such an approach in epistemology is called contextualism; it utilizes the idea that the meaning of an utterance might differ depending on when and who produces it.

This approach is viewed in opposition to radical skepticism and underlines the importance of pragmatic encroachment which is the reasoning for further actions based on knowledge. Thus, the contextual approach to epistemic matters presents an opportunity to argue about the true nature of knowledge and its influence on the actions people make.

Contextualism argues that it is not the knowledge that changes upon the shift of a perspective or a situation, but the truthfulness of the utterance does. In other words, when given different contexts, a person might consider the same statement true or false. When skepticism concentrates on the reasons for the knowledge to be possible and the meanings of the words used to present the knowledge, conceptualism shifts focus on language and the situation (“Week 8 – Notes” 1).

Regarding the context of the utterance, the epistemic matter becomes true or false depending on the situation and leads to the following actions. Thus, it is important what is at stake or what the practical interest of the speaker is (“Week 7 – Notes” 4). Such pragmatic encroachment explains that the knowledge depends not only on the utterance context but also on the practical factors.

In conclusion, contextualism is an epistemological paradigm that views the truthfulness of knowledge from the perspective of the situation in which the utterance has been produced and the practical interests of a speaker. Thus, the value of truth might be different when viewed from various angles, but the knowledge remains the same. The pragmatic encroachment justifies the practical value of the truth and shifts the focus on the actions upon knowledge.

Works Cited

“Week 8 – Notes.” Theory of Knowledge. 2019.

“Week 7 – Notes.” Theory of Knowledge. 2019.

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