Contextualism and the Skeptic : Comments on Engel

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    • Pages: 233 to 244
    • Support: Electronic document
    • Languages: Anglais
    • Édition: Original
    • ISSN: 1572-8420-61-2/3
    • DOI: 10.1007/s10670-004-9289-z
    • URL: External link
    • Creation date: 04-01-2011
    • Last update: 01-06-2011



    Mylan Engel’s paper (2004) is divided into two parts: a negative part, criticizing the costs of contextualism and a constructive part proposing a noncontextualist resolution of the skeptical problem. I will only address the constructive part here. The constructive part is composed of three elements: (i) a reconstruction or reformulation of the original skeptical argument, which draws on the notion of epistemic possibility (e-possibility), (ii) a distinction between two senses of knowledge (and two corresponding kinds of e-possibility): fallibilistic and infallibilistic, and (iii) an argument which tries to hoist the skeptic by their own petard, namely the closure principle (CP). As I will argue, there are two ways to understand Engel’s anti-skeptical argument. Only in one interpretation does the argument depend on the proposed reconstruction of the skeptical argument in terms of e-possibility. But this version of the argument is unsound. More importantly, the skeptic has a strong prima facie objection at her disposal, which applies to both interpretations of the argument. If this objection is valid, Engels argument does not hold. But once it is invalidated, his argument is superfluous.