Dialogue 41 (1):199-201 (2002)

Rockney Jacobsen
Wilfrid Laurier University
Philosophers continue to locate themselves on a landscape in which scepticism is a prominent feature. By treating sceptical scenarios, from evil demons to brains-in-vats, as "real possibilities" that would, if actual, suffice to "explain our experience as of a world beyond our senses", we can locate the strong independence of the world from knowledge characteristic of metaphysical realism. But, by taking scepticism this seriously, realists deprive themselves of any justification for other theses they nonetheless continue to advocate. In order to advance beyond scepticism, metaphysical realists must then treat sceptical scenarios as mere logical possibilities, but by doing so they jettison the strong independence of the world that characterizes their own form of realism. This "concurrent need to admit and deny a thesis, especially a sceptical one", is the "neurosis" or "epistemic dissociative disorder" of Michael Hymers's title. Hymers makes a persuasive case for regarding this simple story as the right diagnosis for a succession of ills afflicting self-described metaphysical realists. On his telling of the tale, the mind-independence of the world needed for metaphysical realism requires taking scepticism seriously; but accompanying positive theses require that the same seriousness be dampened.
Keywords Contemporary Philosophy  General Interest
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ISBN(s) 0012-2173
DOI 10.1017/s0012217300013779
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