Giving the sceptic a good name

Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 18 (4):409 – 436 (1975)
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The word 'sceptic' usually refers to a theoretical figure whose philosophical importance lies exclusively in his challenge to any attempt to justify the belief in the possibility of knowledge. But the label was once applied to living persons - the so-called Pyrrhonists - whose scepticism encompassed a way of life. Following Sextus Empiricus's portrayal of the Pyrrhonists, Arne Naess has provided comprehensive arguments both in rebuttal of the frequent claims either that scepticism is logically inconsistent or that at least it is impossible to put into practice, and in support of scepticism as a fruitful philosophical attitude. The present essay attempts a critical consolidation of Naess's case for scepticism by drawing more explicitly than he does on his work in empirical semantics. The notion of degrees of preciseness is used to outline a philosophically interesting rationale for the Pyrrhonist's persistent abstention from any act or action that commits him to the truth of a proposition, and also to indicate why possible, or even inevitable lapses on the Pyrrhonist's part need not seriously prejudice either his status as a sceptic or the philosophical value of his sceptical ideal.



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The Life and Learning of Arne Naess: Scepticism as a Survival Strategy.Inga Bostad - 2011 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 54 (1):42-51.
Neurath’s Congestions, Depth of Intention, and Precization: Arne Naess and His Viennese Heritage.Jan Radler - 2013 - Hopos: The Journal of the International Society for the History of Philosophy of Science 3 (1):59-90.

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References found in this work

Individuals.P. F. Strawson - 1964 - Routledge.
Individuals.P. F. Strawson - 1959 - Les Etudes Philosophiques 14 (2):246-246.
Outlines of Pyrrhonism.Sextus Empiricus - 1990 - Harvard University Press.
Conditions for Description.Peter Zinkernagel & Olaf Lindum - 1962 - New York: Routledge & K. Paul Humanities Press.

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