Epistemological crises and the philosophy of science, part-2

Consider what it is to share a culture. It is to share schemata which are at one and the same time constitutive of and normative for intelligible action by myself and are also means for my interpretations of the actions of others. My ability to understand what you are doing and my ability to act intelligibly (both to myself and to others) are one and the same ability. It is true that I cannot master these schemata without also acquiring the means to deceive, to make more or less elaborate jokes, to exercise irony and utilize ambiguity, but it is also, and even more importantly, true that my ability to conduct any successful transactions depends on my presenting myself to most people most of the time in unambiguous, unironical, undeceiving, intelligible ways.

It is these schemata which enable inferences to be made from premises about past behavior to conclusions about future behavior and present inner attitudes. They are not, of course, empirical generalizations; they are prescriptions for interpretation. But while it is they which normally preserve us from the pressure of the other minds problem and the problem of induction, it is precisely they which can in certain circumstances thrust those very problems upon us. For it is not only that an individual may rely on the schemata which have hitherto informed his interpretations of social life and find that he or she has been led into radical error or deception, so that for the first time the schemata are put in question, but also that perhaps for the first time they become visible to the individual who employs them.

And such an individual may as a result come to recognize the possibility of systematically different possibilities of interpretation, of the existence of alternative and rival schemata which yield mutually incompatible accounts of what is going on around him. Just this is the form of epistemological crisis encountered by ordinary agents and it is striking that there is not a single account of it anywhere in the literature of academic philosophy. Perhaps this is a symptom of the condition of that discipline.
Alasdair Macintyre, The Tasks of Philosophy: Selected Essays, Volume 1, Cambridge University Press 0521854377 –