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Sceptics Challenge

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Assess the Contextualist’s response to the sceptic’s challenge. The sceptics challenge revolves around whether we can have knowledge of the external world. The sceptic gives three scenarios where you are deceived; your senses are occasionally deceived for example for objects far in the distance size, dreams can be so realistic that you take them to be fact, and you could be deceived by a evil demon controlling your senses (adapted recently to the brain in a vat argument) and these are phenomenally indistinguishable from real life. The Contextualist responds to the sceptics challenge by saying we can both ‘know a lot’ (Lewis, 1996) and ‘know next to nothing’ (Lewis, 1996). The Contextualist justifies this by saying that we have two forms of…show more content…
This is due to knowledge being context dependent. A example of this is “I know Peter is strong” in an everyday context, however if you put him in a weightlifting competition Peter will no longer be considered strong as this is now relative to weightlifters. This therefore allows us to say we have knowledge of everyday things such as having two hands without considering the sceptics challenge due to knowledge being context dependent. I believe that this is a good method of dealing with the sceptics challenge as you don't have to engage with the sceptic to have everyday knowledge. To say Y knows X, X’s evidence eliminates every possibility that not X. The differentiation comes through what you consider every possibility in a low form this is every reasonable possibility, and in a high context its every single possibility. This therefore alters the domain of what you have to reject as in a high context the domain is much larger than in a low context. I believe that this is a strength as you can interpret every situation in two different contexts, this conserves the power of knowledge in a high context and also allows us to discuss knowledge in a everyday context. This therefore refutes global (Cartesian) scepticism as it allows you to have some form of knowledge. However this can also be considered an issue as the rule of attention shows that it is very easy to lose knowledge by shifting from a low to a high context, as soon as you add a possibility you cannot ignore it and therefore you lose knowledge as soon as your attention is drawn to a sceptical scenario. This is a weakness as you could argue that children have more knowledge than philosophers, as they haven't been drawn to the attention of the sceptical scenario even though they only have low knowledge. This method is particularly useful in solving the sceptics
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