Three Sosaian Responses and a Wittgensteinian Response to the Dream Argument in the Zhuangzi

Philosophia 44 (3):721-743 (2016)
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Ernest Sosa has proposed at least three responses to the dream argument for skepticism in his writings in the past decade. The first and the main purpose of this paper is to critically examine the three Sosaian responses, as well as a Wittgensteinian response Sosa would endorse, by investigating whether they can refute the six different versions of the dream argument found in a passage in the Zhuangzi. The second purpose of this paper is exactly to offer an exposition of the passage in the Zhuangzi so as to show that there were already sophisticated versions of the dream argument in ancient China. The main results of the critical examination are as follows. For four of the six versions of the dream argument found in the Zhuangzi, each of them can be refuted by either the Wittgensteinian response or one of the three Sosaian responses. With respect to the remaining two versions of the dream argument, one of them can be refuted partially by two of Sosa’s responses. First, that version of the dream argument can be refuted by one of Sosa’s responses, provided the imagination model of dreaming is adopted. Second, it can also be refuted by another of Sosa’s responses without assuming the imagination model of dreaming, though both the view that there is unsafe knowledge and a certain externalist reliabilism need to be adopted. However, another of the two remaining versions of the dream argument cannot be refuted by any of the Sosaian responses, nor the Wittgensteinian response. This shows that the three Sosaian responses and the Wittgensteinian response cannot refute significantly many different versions of the dream argument. Sosa’s responses, including the Wittgensteinian response, therefore are not in general successful in the refutation of he dream argument for skepticism.



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Leo Cheung
Chinese University of Hong Kong

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References found in this work

Philosophical Investigations.Ludwig Wittgenstein - 1953 - New York, NY, USA: Wiley-Blackwell. Edited by G. E. M. Anscombe.
A virtue epistemology.Ernest Sosa - 2007 - New York: Oxford University Press.
Philosophical investigations.Ludwig Wittgenstein & G. E. M. Anscombe - 1953 - Revue Philosophique de la France Et de l'Etranger 161:124-124.
How to defeat opposition to Moore.Ernest Sosa - 1999 - Philosophical Perspectives 13:137-49.

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