‘Bamboozled by our Own Words’
Semantic Blindness and Some Objections to Contextualism
This chapter addresses several objections to contextualism, some of which have been prominent: objections from judgments of comparative content, and objections based on how ‘know(s)’ behaves within metalinguistic claims, belief reports, speech reports, and in connection with devices like ‘I never said that’. By comparing ‘know(s)’ with the behavior of clearly context-sensitive terms, and especially by focusing on the right sorts of cases — cases in which the contextualist really will hold that the content of ‘know(s)’ changes — it is shown that these objections all fail. Against the claim that the contextualist must make a lame and costly appeal to ‘semantic blindness’ to escape certain problems, it is shown that the way in which contextualism actually implicates speakers in such blindness does not hurt the view, because speakers are implicated in equally problematic semantic blindness whether or not contextualism is accepted.
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