Contextualism, assessment-relativity and content-insensitivity
2009 (English)Conference paper (Other academic)
Recently, a number of authors have argued that contextualist analyses of for example epistemic modals and matters of taste are inadequate and need to be recast in terms of assessment-relative truth or assessment-relative contents. The viability of such relativist proposals have been much discussed recently, but what has not been noted is that a minor adjustment of a standard non-relativist background assumption yields the same predictions of linguistic intuitions and behaviour as does the intrusive revisions called for by relativism. The evidence adduced to support assessment-relative accounts consists mostly in cases where the following seems to be true: EVIDENCE: The correctness of an utterance (or belief) is appropriately assessed without sensitivity to the truth-conditions assigned to that utterance by contextualist accounts. Such cases might seem to suggest that the content of the utterance, or the proposition it expresses, has assessment-relative truth-conditions, or that the utterance has its contents relative to contexts of assessment. From the non-relativist perspective, however, such cases can simply be understood as cases of appropriate content-insensitive assessments; the assessor is simply assessing a content other than (but related to) that expressed by the original speaker or accepted as true by the original believer. Instead of relativizing contents or truth-conditions to contexts of assessment, this perspective gives a contextualist account of the content of acts of assessment, where the content of utterances like "no", "yes" or of the form "[what he said/that] is [true/right/wrong]" depend on their context in ways corresponding exactly to the assessor-relativity proposed by critics of contextualist analyses. In my talk, which is based on joint work with Alexander Almér, I compare this contextualist interpretation with relativist alternatives and argue that it provides a theoretically preferable accommodation of various examples of EVIDENCE.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Relativism, contextualism, insensitive assessments, MacFarlane, Egan
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-54961OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-54961DiVA: diva2:312497
Pragmatics, Semantics, and Systematicity; Stockholm 8-9 maj 2009