forum 4: week of 30 Jan: DeRose on skepticism
I think that the difference between DeRose and Lewis almost trivial. It is true that they started out with different premises, and work onwards from there. But since their overarching theory is so similar (dare I say identical?), it's natural that they end their epistemological investigations in largely the same spot. DeRose is more acutely aware of the problem posed by skepticism (or at least he appears to be), but he still doesn't offer much more beyond what Lewis said. There seems to be no good and non-circular way of discerning relevant arguments and objections from the silly and facetious. If they can't legitimately exclude these examples, they certainly can't rule over skepticism. The result would be a systemic collapse in their theories (if such problems go unaddressed).
"The AI skeptic's mentioning of the BIV hypothesis in presenting the first premise of AI makes that hypothesis relevant."Isn't that a little too mind-over-matter? If it is pointing to something which is arguably actually, materially true then surely it would be true whether it was mentioned ( Rule of Relevance opposed to Rule of Accommodation ) or not mentioned.( i.e. would be relevant in either case, we just didn't realize it until it was brought up ) In other words, isn't all this only relevant in cases which can't be proven either way, which is to say, imponderables, cases where we can't advance our understanding without some unforeseen relevant disclosure. If something is, indeed, decided to be unmentionable ( the emperor's new clothes ) or "far-fetched" as the author would have it, but subsequently is nevertheless found to be true, is it still, or was it ever, really correct to call it far-fetched? What if the example is not so much far-fetched as it is inconvenient, which is to say, beyond discourse comfort levels? Is there a philosophy of manners?
That's a good point. I can't help thinking that both DeRose and Lewis are resigned to allow that while highly skeptical ascribers of knowledge raise the bar for the subject significantly, if the ascribers were a pair of idiots, to put it bluntly, alot of things could be counted as knowledge that DeRose and Lewis would be unhappy with. Consider someone who thinks cellphones cause cancer because of some alien chip that is implanted within (the government is of course, also culpable). Two ascribers with similarly outlandish beliefs about alien activity might hold that that individuals belief does in fact count as knowledge, where as the average person, while perhaps agreeing that evidence does suggest a link between cellphones and cancer, would think that the alien-believer's justification falls well short of the mark.
Also, I'm kind of concerned about the consequences for the concept of truth inherent in a cotextual approach to knowledge ascription, but I might just save that for my paper.
I'm inclined to agree that DeRose and Lewis seem to present a very similar version of contextualism. The focus of their arguments is the main difference. While Lewis is primarily motivated with explaining his rule-set regarding the criteria for relevant alternatives and proper knowledge ascription, DeRose is more concerned with his contextualism as a direct reply to sceptical arguments (he continually explains and refers to the appeal of AI). The main difference between the two is that Lewis uses rules to classify appropriate relevant alternatives in a conversational context while DeRose adds to his solution the idea of sensitivity.