Contextualism

Contextualism, also known as epistemic contextualism, is a family of views in philosophy which emphasize the context in which an action, utterance, or expression occurs. Proponents of contextualism argue that, in some important respect, the action, utterance, or expression can only be understood relative to that context.[1] Contextualist views hold that philosophically controversial concepts, such as "meaning P", "knowing that P", "having a reason to A", and possibly even "being true" or "being right" only have meaning relative to a specified context. Other philosophers[2] contend that context-dependence leads to complete relativism.[3]

In ethics, "contextualist" views are often closely associated with situational ethics, or with moral relativism.[4]

Contextualism in architecture is a theory of design where modern building types are harmonized with urban forms usual to a traditional city.[5]

In epistemology, contextualism is the treatment of the word 'knows' as context-sensitive. Context-sensitive expressions are ones that "express different propositions relative to different contexts of use".[6] For example, some terms generally considered context-sensitive are indexicals, such as 'I', 'here', and 'now'; while 'I' has a constant linguistic meaning in all contexts of use, whom it refers to varies with context. Similarly, epistemic contextualists argue that the word 'knows' is context sensitive, expressing different relations in some different contexts.


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