The Philosophy Of Language Essay

2361 words - 10 pages

Over the course of the semester we have discussed several interesting philosophers and their theories on the philosophical issues such as, epistemological concerns, the meaning of life, and morality. One approach to the epistemological debate is the context of our language and the meaning of the words we use to claim one’s beliefs as true knowledge. In epistemology and the philosophy of language context seems to play a huge part in our understanding, meaning, and knowledge. Whether it be science, math, or religion, our language and its context is key to our understanding. In this essay I will present the contextualist views of Ludwig Wittgenstein and David Lewis, as well as a few criticisms on their theories. A major contextualist claim is that our attributions of knowledge can vary from person to person based on the user’s context. The way we utter sentences, the many different contexts in which we use the words to form statements.
Epistemological contextualist theories maintain the concept such as knowledge and justification are dependent upon the context in which they are used. Factors, such as intentions and presuppositions, play a part in the conversational context and help shape the standards that must be met in order for a belief to be certain knowledge. These factors allow for different contexts to set epistemic standards, and each may vary from the other. Epistemic standards are higher in some contexts, and make it difficult for our beliefs to count as knowledge. Most often, epistemic standards are low, and beliefs count as knowledge. The fundamental claim is that contextualism helps to explain our epistemic perceptions, or judgments. The reason, in most cases, why we claim that we have knowledge, and in other cases, that we don’t. This helps provide a better solution to questions provoked by skeptical arguments. More easily put, the word know is dependent upon the way it is uttered.
According to an online article in the Stanford Encyclopedia, Patrick Rysiew describes contextualism as “entertaining of the possibility of some kind of pluralism concerning epistemic standards. In one instance, this took the form of the claim, in response to skepticism, that there are “two senses of ‘know’”—one ‘strong’ or ‘philosophical’, the other ‘weak’ or ‘ordinary’. So too, some of Wittgenstein's claims about the relation between meaning and use and the multiplicity of “language games”, each with its own set of norms, opened the way for a more thoroughgoing kind of semantic pluralism with regard to epistemic concepts and/or terms”, (Rysiew, 2007). A major purpose of language is to deny or confirm truths. Language, or rather an ideal language, should never have the same name for two different objects. A name is a symbol given to an object in order to establish a commonly known identity. Epistemological contextualism emerged primarily as a reaction to the claims that we have no knowledge of the actual world. Also referred to as attributor...

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