Show Summary Details
Page of

date: 08 December 2021

7. Shifting standards?locked

7. Shifting standards?locked

  • Jennifer Nagel


Some words have context-sensitivity. Some words (like ‘I’ and ‘now’) are sensitive to the speaker's identity and location in time and space. Others (like ‘big’ and ‘tall’) are sensitive to a comparison class. ‘Shifting standards?’ discusses the emergence of contextualism, which grew out of the ‘Relevant Alternatives’ theory of knowledge. Contextualism is a theory about knowledge-attributing language. The idea is that ‘know’ expresses something different as situations change. The view that knowledge is absolute, in the sense that the words we use for it are not context-sensitive, is known as ‘invariantism’. Invariantism faces a challenge in explaining the shifting intuitions that make knowledge sometimes seem easy and sometimes seem hard.

Access to the complete content on Very Short Introductions online requires a subscription or purchase. Public users are able to search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter without a subscription.

Please subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you have purchased a print title that contains an access token, please see the token for information about how to register your code.

For questions on access or troubleshooting, please check our FAQs, and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us.