Many contextualist accounts in epistemology appeal to ordinary language and everyday practice as grounds for positing a low-standards knowledge (knowledgeL) that contrasts with high-standards prevalent in epistemology (knowledgeH). We compare these arguments to arguments from the height of “ordinary language” philosophy in the mid 20th century and find that all such arguments face great difficulties. We find a powerful argument for the legitimacy and necessity of knowledgeL (but not of knowledgeH). These appeals to practice leave us with reasons to accept knowledgeL in the face of radical doubts raised by skeptics. We conclude by arguing that by relegating knowledgeH to isolated contexts, the contextualist fails to deal with the skeptical challenge head-on. KnowledgeH and knowledgeL represent competing, incompatible intuitions about knowledge, and we must choose between them. A fallibilist conception of knowledge, formed with proper attention to radical doubts, can address the skeptical challenge without illicit appeal to everyday usage.
LudlowP. (2005). Contextualism and the New Linguistic Turn in Epistemology. In G.Preyer and G.Peter (Eds.), Contextualism in Philosophy: Knowledge, Meaning and Truth (New York: Oxford University Press), 11–50.
MalcolmN. (1942). Moore and Ordinary Language. In P.Schlipp (Ed.), The Philosophy of G.E. Moore, Vol. iv of The Library of Living Philosophers (pp. 345–368). Evanston, il, usa: Northwestern University Press.