Contextualism and radical scepticism

Duncan Pritchard*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


A critique of attributer contextualist treatments of the problem of radical scepticism is offered. It is argued that while such proposals, standardly conceived, gain some purchase against the closure-based formulation of this problem, they run aground when applied to the logically distinct underdetermination-based formulation. A specific kind of attributer contextualism—rational support contextualism—is then explored. This is better placed to deal with underdetermination-based radical scepticism via its endorsement of ascriptions of factive rational support in everyday contexts of epistemic appraisal. But such a proposal is faced with a dialectical impasse with regard to the competing epistemological disjunctivist response to radical scepticism. While the former has dialectical advantages over the latter with regard to closure-based radical scepticism, the latter has the dialectical upper-hand when it comes to underdetermination-based radical scepticism. It is claimed that the way to resolve this issue—and thereby to understand that we should not expect a unified treatment of these two formulations of the sceptical problem, much less one that is cast along contextualist lines—is to recognise how these two formulations reflect distinct sources of scepticism.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4733–4750
Number of pages18
Issue number11
Early online date21 May 2016
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Contextualism
  • Epistemological disjunctivism
  • Radical scepticism
  • Wittgenstein


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