From Epistemic Expressivism to Epistemic Inferentialism

Matthew Chrisman

in Social Epistemology

Published in print November 2010 | ISBN: 9780199577477
Published online January 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191595189 | DOI:
From Epistemic Expressivism to Epistemic Inferentialism

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Recent philosophical debate about the meaning of knowledge claims has largely centred on the question of whether epistemic claims are plausibly thought to be context sensitive. The default assumption has been that sentences that attribute knowledge or justification (or whatever else is epistemic) have stable truth-conditions across different contexts of utterance, once any non-epistemic context sensitivity has been fixed. The contrary view is the contextualist view that such sentences do not have stable truth-conditions but can vary depending on the context of utterance. This debate manifestly presupposes that the meta-epistemological issue of accounting for the meaning of epistemic claims is to be settled by determining the truth-conditions of these claims. This chapter believes that this presupposition is undermotivated in light of two observations. First, many epistemologists see epistemic claims as evaluative or normative, in some sense. Second, in the meta-ethical debate most philosophers take alternatives to truth-conditional semantics, such as expressivism, as live options when it comes to evaluative or normative claims. As it turns out, the chapter proposes that expressivism doesn't provide a plausible account of normative concepts across the board. But considering it as an alternative in the meta-epistemological debate points the way to another alternative to truth-conditional semantics. This is a form of inferentialism. This chapter tries to motivate a move to epistemic inferentialism by showing how it overcomes worries about expressivism and interacts with plausible ideas about the social function epistemic claims play in our commerce with one another and the word.

Keywords: epistemic inferentialism; epistemic expressivism; metaethical expressivism; normative concepts; semantic contextualism

Chapter.  8854 words. 

Subjects: Metaphysics

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