Moore's Arguments Against Epistemological Scepticism

Dissertation, City University of New York (1982)
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Abstract

This work has two objectives: to present a study of G. E. Moore's arguments against Epistemological Scepticism; to assess the contribution of Moore's argumens to the literature of scepticism. ;Beginning with his early rejection of the Idealist tradition Moore is intrigued by the fact that numerous philosophers have been able to arrive at philosophical views which flatly contradict our ordinary view of the world. It is only in contrast to philosophers who hold such views that Moore labels his position as a common sense position. He devotes a good deal of his philosophical career in a effort to understand and refute the views of philosophers who are "sceptical" of our common sense beliefs, or our ability to know the very basic kinds of perceptual propositions which support those common sense beliefs. ;Moore's position is developed and presented through a close and careful analysis of some of his key essays, such as "A Defence of Common Sense," "Proof of an External World," and "Certainty." That position is seen to consist of four distinct components: the thesis that some propositions must be accepted without proof; the appeal to common sense to establish that the propositions of common sense are the most likelyc andidates for this role; the appeal to ordinary language; the technique of analysis, which is designed to delineate the role of philosophers in a context in which the truth of the propositions of common sense is accepted. ;One of the major conclusions of the work is that Moore's attempt to refute scepticism ultimately fails, because Moore cannot shake free from some fundamental conceptions of the position he is trying to refute, such as the dependence on sense-data, the search for absolute certainty, and the presupposition that ordinary experience stands in need of philosophical proof. Still, Moore's accomplishments are many. He does provide additional insight into the problem of scepticism, and shows its implications for the beliefs of common sense. He argues for a position in which the foundations of empirical knowledge are not necessarily established through proof but through inspection and the scrutiny of reasons

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