Scepticism, a philosophical tradition that casts doubt on our ability to gain knowledge of the world and suggests suspending judgment in the face of uncertainty, has been influential since its beginnings in ancient Greece. Harald Thorsrud provides an engaging, rigorous introduction to the central themes, arguments, and general concerns of ancient Scepticism, from its beginnings with Pyrrho of Elis to the writings of Sextus Empiricus in the second century A.D. Thorsrud explores the differences among Sceptics and examines in (...) particular the separation of the Scepticism of Pyrrho from its later form—Academic Scepticism—the result of its ideas being introduced into Plato's Academy in the third century B.C. Steering an even course through the many differences of scholarly opinion surrounding Scepticism, the book also provides a balanced appraisal of the philosophy's enduring significance by showing why it remains so interesting and how ancient interpretations differ from modern ones. _Copub: Acumen Publishing Limited _. (shrink)
Scepticism about ought simpliciter is the view that there is no such thing as what one ought simpliciter to do. Instead, practical deliberation is governed by a plurality of normative standpoints, each authoritative from their own perspective but none authoritative simpliciter. This paper aims to resist such scepticism. After setting out the challenge in general terms, I argue that scepticism can be resisted by rejecting a key assumption in the sceptic’s argument. This is the assumption that standpoint-relative (...) ought judgments bring with them a commitment to act in accordance with those judgments. Instead, I propose an alternative account of our normative concepts according to which only ought simpliciter judgments commit one to acting in accordance with those judgments. In addition to answering the sceptical challenge, the proposal offers an independently motivated account of what makes a concept normatively authoritative. (shrink)
Reliabilist accounts of knowledge are widely seen as having the resources for blocking sceptical arguments, since these arguments appear to rely on assumptions about the nature of knowledge that are rendered illegitimate by reliabilist accounts. The goal of this book is to assess the main arguments against the possibility of knowledge, and its conclusions challenge this consensus. The book articulates and defends a theory of knowledge that belongs firmly in the truth-tracking tradition, and argues that although the theory has the (...) resources for blocking the main standard lines of sceptical reasoning, there is a sceptical argument against which the theory offers no defence, as it doesn’t rely on any assumptions that the theory would render illegitimate. The book ends with the suggestion that the problem might have a metaphysical solution—that although the sceptical argument may make no illegitimate epistemological assumptions, it does rest on a questionable account of the nature of cognition. (shrink)
The relation of scepticism to infallibilism and fallibilism is a contested issue. In this paper I argue that Cartesian sceptical arguments, i.e. sceptical arguments resting on sceptical scenarios, are neither tied to infallibilism nor collapse into fallibilism. I interpret the distinction between scepticism and fallibilism as a scope distinction. According to fallibilism, each belief could be false, but according to scepticism all beliefs could be false at the same time. However, to put this distinction to work sceptical (...) scenarios have to be understood as ignorance-possibilities, not as error-possibilities. To show that scepticism is not tied to infallibilism I reject the principle of unrestricted relevance according to which any error- or ignorance-possibility whatsoever is relevant. Instead I argue that the sceptic should distinguish between local and global ignorance-possibilities. Global ignorance-possibilities are relevant even though not all ignorance-possibilities are relevant. The result is a refined version of the Cartesian sceptical argument that avoids two traps other versions do not avoid. (shrink)
While there seems to be much evidence that perceptual states can occur without being conscious, some theorists recently express scepticism about unconscious perception. We explore here two kinds of such scepticism: Megan Peters and Hakwan Lau's experimental work regarding the well-known problem of the criterion -- which seems to show that many purported instances of unconscious perception go unreported but are weakly conscious -- and Ian Phillips' theoretical consideration, which he calls the 'problem of attribution' -- the worry (...) that many purported examples of unconscious perception are not perceptual, but rather merely informational and subpersonal. We argue that these concerns do not undermine the evidence for unconscious perception and that this sceptical approach results in a dilemma for the sceptic, who must either deny that there is unconscious mentality generally or explain why perceptual states are unique in the mind such that they cannot occur unconsciously. Both options, we argue, are problematic. (shrink)
How can experience provide knowledge, or even justified belief, about the objective world outside our minds? This volume presents original essays by prominent contemporary epistemologists, who show how philosophical progress on foundational issues can improve our understanding of, and suggest a solution to, this famous sceptical question.
To what extent are the answers to theological questions knowable? And if the relevant answers are knowable, which sorts of inquirers are in a position to know them? In this chapter we shall not answer these questions directly but instead supply a range of tools that may help us make progress here. The tools consist of plausible structural constraints on knowledge. After articulating them, we shall go on to indicate some ways in which they interact with theological scepticism. In (...) some cases the structural constraints bear directly on whether one can know answers to theological questions. But the structural considerations are related to theological scepticism in other interesting ways as well; for instance we will also be using them to explore the significance of scepticism, by addressing questions such as ‘To what extent does it matter whether or not we can know the answer to theological questions?’. (shrink)
In epistemology the nagging voice of the sceptic has always been present, whispering that 'You can't know that you have hands, or just about anything else, because for all you know your whole life is a dream.' Philosophers have recently devised ingenious ways to argue against and silence this voice, but Bryan Frances now presents a highly original argument template for generating new kinds of radical scepticism, ones that hold even if all the clever anti-sceptical fixes defeat the traditional (...) sceptic. Sharp, witty, and fun to read, Scepticism Comes Alive will be highly provocative for anyone interested in knowledge and its limits. (shrink)
This paper offers a detailed criticism of different versions of modal scepticism proposed by Van Inwagen and Hawke, and, against these views, attempts to vindicate our reliance on thought experiments in philosophy. More than one different meaning of “ modal scepticism” will be distinguished. Focusing mainly on Hawke’s more detailed view I argue that none of these versions of modal scepticism is compelling, since sceptical conclusions depend on an untenable and, perhaps, incoherent modal epistemology. With a detailed (...) account of modal defeaters at hand I argue that Van Inwagen and Hawke’s scepticism is either groundless, or it leads to boundless and unacceptable modal scepticism. Additionally, I show that Hawke’s conception of analogical modal reasoning is problematic. Either his principle of similarity is arbitrary or it begs the question about modal scepticism. In contrast to Hawke’s restricted view of analogical modal reasoning, I present two examples of analogy-based modal justification of philosophically relevant possibility claims. My criticism of modal scepticism also shows that there is no good reason to insist on a sharp distinction between an unproblematic and a presumably dubious kind of modality. The upshot is that in absence of proper defeaters both Yablo-style conceivability and properly applied analogical reasoning are reliable guides to possibility, and also that modal justification comes in degrees. The proposed framework of defeaters of modal justification as well as the analysed examples of analogical modal reasoning trace out interesting new areas for further discussions. (shrink)
Hegel’s Science of Logic is widely acknowledged as one of the greatest works of European philosophy. However, its contribution to arguably the most important philosophical problem, Pyrrhonian scepticism, has never been examined in any detail. Pyrrhonian Scepticism and Hegel's Theory of Judgement fills a great lacuna in Hegel scholarship by convincingly proving that the dialectic of the judgement in Hegel’s Science of Logic successfully refutes this kind of scepticism. Although Ioannis Trisokkas has written the book primarily for (...) those students of philosophy who already have an interest in Hegel’s epistemology and philosophy of language and/or his Science of Logic, it will also appeal to those who investigate the problem of scepticism independently of the Hegel corpus. (shrink)
This paper (in English) highlights a hitherto neglected feature of Hegel’s 1807 Phenomenology of Spirit: its critique of the content of our basic categorial concepts. It focusses on Hegel’s semantics of cognitive reference in ‘Sense Certainty’ and his use of this semantics also in ‘Perception’ and ‘Force and Understanding’. Explicating these points enables us to understand how Hegel criticizes Pyrrhonian Scepticism on internal grounds.
I have argued for a kind of ‘counterfactual scepticism’: most counterfactuals ever uttered or thought in human history are false. I briefly rehearse my main arguments. Yet common sense recoils. Ordinary speakers judge most counterfactuals that they utter and think to be true. A common defence of such judgments regards counterfactuals as context-dependent: the proposition expressed by a given counterfactual can vary according to the context in which it is uttered. In normal contexts, the counterfactuals that we utter are (...) typically true, the defence insists, while granting that there may be more rarefied contexts in which they are false. I give a taxonomy of such contextualist replies. One could be a contextualist about the counterfactual connective, about its antecedent, or about its consequent. I offer some general concerns about all these varieties of contextualism. I then focus especially on antecedent-contextualism, as I call it. I firstly raise some high-level objections to it. Then, I look at such a contextualist account due to Sandgren and Steele. I think it has many virtues, but also some problems. I conclude with some avenues for future research. (shrink)
The classical arguments for scepticism about the external world are defended, especially the symmetry argument: that there is no reason to prefer the realist hypothesis to, say, the deceitful demon hypothesis. This argument is defended against the various standard objections, such as that the demon hypothesis is only a bare possibility, does not lead to pragmatic success, lacks coherence or simplicity, is ad hoc or parasitic, makes impossible demands for certainty, or contravenes some basic standards for a conceptual or (...) linguistic scheme. Since the conclusion of the sceptical argument is not true, it is concluded that one can only escape the force of the argument through some large premise, such as an aptitude of the intellect for truth, if necessary divinely supported. (shrink)
PYRRHONIAN SCEPTICISM, as presented in the writings of Sextus Empiricus, differs in various ways from the forms of scepticism that continue to be of such central concern to modern philosophers. Two differences stand out immediately. One is Pyrrhonism's practical orientation. For Sextus, scepticism is a way of life in which suspension of judgment leads to the peace of mind the sceptic identifies with happiness. The other is the puzzling failure on the part of the Pyrrhonists, along with (...) all other ancient sceptics, to formulate the sceptical problem that many modern and contemporary philosophers regard as fundamental and paradigmatic: the problem of our knowledge of the external world. (shrink)
I focus on a key argument for global external world scepticism resting on the underdetermination thesis: the argument according to which we cannot know any proposition about our physical environment because sense evidence for it equally justifies some sceptical alternative (e.g. the Cartesian demon conjecture). I contend that the underdetermination argument can go through only if the controversial thesis that conceivability is per se a source of evidence for metaphysical possibility is true. I also suggest a reason to doubt (...) that conceivability is per se a source of evidence for metaphysical possibility, and thus to doubt the underdetermination argument. (shrink)
The first part of this paper will provide a reconstruction of Francis Bacon’s interpretation of Academic scepticism, Pyrrhonism, and Dogmatism, and its sources throughout his large corpus. It shall also analyze Bacon’s approach against the background of his intellectual milieu, looking particularly at Renaissance readings of scepticism as developed by Guillaume Salluste du Bartas, Pierre de la Primaudaye, Fulke Greville, and John Davies. It shall show that although Bacon made more references to Academic than to Pyrrhonian Scepticism, (...) like most of his contemporaries, he often misrepresented and mixed the doctrinal components of both currents. The second part of the paper shall offer a complete chronological survey of Bacon’s assessment of scepticism throughout his writings. Following the lead of previous studies by other scholars, I shall support the view that, while he approved of the state of doubt and the suspension of judgment as a provisional necessary stage in the pursuit of knowledge, he rejected the notion of acatalepsia. To this received reading, I shall add the suggestion that Bacon’s criticism of acatalepsia ultimately depends on his view of the historical conditions that surround human nature. I deal with this last point in the third part of the paper, where I shall argue that Bacon’s evaluation of scepticism relied on his adoption of a Protestant and Augustinian view of human nature that informed his overall interpretation of the history of humanity and nature, including the sceptical schools. (shrink)
This paper is about three of the most prominent debates in modern epistemology. The conclusion is that three prima facie appealing positions in these debates cannot be held simultaneously. The first debate is scepticism vs anti-scepticism. My conclusions apply to most kinds of debates between sceptics and their opponents, but I will focus on the inductive sceptic, who claims we cannot come to know what will happen in the future by induction. This is a fairly weak kind of (...)scepticism, and I suspect many philosophers who are generally anti-sceptical are attracted by this kind of scepticism. Still, even this kind of scepticism is quite unintuitive. I’m pretty sure I know (1) on the basis of induction. (1) It will snow in Ithaca next winter. Although I am taking a very strong version of anti-scepticism to be intuitively true here, the points I make will generalise to most other versions of scepticism. (Focussing on the inductive sceptic avoids some potential complications that I will note as they arise.) The second debate is a version of rationalism vs empiricism. The kind of rationalist I have in mind accepts that some deeply contingent propositions can be known a priori, and the empiricist I have in mind denies this. Kripke showed that there are contingent propositions that can be known a priori. One example is Water is the watery stuff of our acquaintance. (‘Watery’ is David Chalmers’s nice term for the properties of water by which folk identify it.) All the examples Kripke gave are of propositions that are, to use Gareth Evans’s term, deeply necessary (Evans, 1979). It is a matter of controversy presently just how to analyse Evans’s concepts of deep necessity and contingency, but most of the controversies are over details that are not important right here. I’ll simply adopt Stephen Yablo’s recent suggestion: a proposition is deeply contingent if it could have turned out to be true, and could have turned out to be false (Yablo, 2002)1. Kripke did not provide examples of any deeply contingent propositions knowable a priori, though nothing he showed rules out their existence.. (shrink)
This article explores the relationship between epistemic relativism and Pyrrhonian scepticism. It is argued that a fundamental argument for contemporary epistemic relativism derives from the Pyrrhonian problem of the criterion. Pyrrhonian scepticism is compared and contrasted with Cartesian scepticism about the external world and Humean scepticism about induction. Epistemic relativism is characterized as relativism due to the variation of epistemic norms, and is contrasted with other forms of cognitive relativism, such as truth relativism, conceptual relativism and (...) ontological relativism. An argument from the Pyrrhonian problem of the criterion to epistemic relativism is presented, and is contrasted with three other arguments for epistemic relativism. It is argued that the argument from the criterion is the most fundamental argument for epistemic relativism. Finally, it is noted how the argument of the present paper fits with the author’s previous suggestion that a particularist response to the Pyrrhonian sceptic may be combined with a naturalistic view of epistemic warrant to meet the challenge of epistemic relativism. (shrink)
My overarching purpose is to illustrate the philosophical fruitfulness of expanding epistemology not only laterally across the social space of other epistemic subjects, but at the same time vertically in the temporal dimension. I set about this by first presenting central strands of Michael Williams' diagnostic engagement with scepticism, in which he crucially employs a Default and Challenge model of justification. I then develop three key aspects of Edward Craig's ‘practical explication' of the concept of knowledge so that they (...) may be seen to resonate positively with Williams's epistemological picture: the admixture of internalist and externalist features; the proto-contextualism; and, finally, the distinctively genealogical antisceptical impetus. In this way I aim to support and augment the socialized anti-sceptical case mounted by Williams, and so to show that expanding epistemology in the temporal dimension can be a productive move in central debates in epistemology. (shrink)
Arguments for scepticism about perceptual knowledge are often said to have intuitively plausible premises. In this discussion I question this view in relation to an argument from ignorance and argue that the supposed persuasiveness of the argument depends on debatable background assumptions about knowledge or justification. A reasonable response to scepticism has to show there is a plausible epistemological perspective that can make sense of our having perceptual knowledge. I present such a perspective. In order give a more (...) satisfying response to scepticism, we need also to consider the standing of background beliefs. This is required since the recognitional abilities that enable us to have perceptual knowledge are informed by, or presuppose, a picture or conception of the world the correctness of which we have not ascertained. The question is how, in the face of this, to make sense of responsible belief-formation. In addressing this problem I make a suggestion about the standing of certain crucial beliefs linking appearances with membership of kinds. (shrink)
Scepticism is a subject which has preoccupied philosophers for two thousand years. This book presents an historical perspective on scepticism by considering contrasting views, such as those of Sextus Empiricus, Descartes and Hume, on why scepticism is important. With its historical perspective and analysis of contemporary discussions, _Scepticism_ provides a broad focus on the subject, differing from other discussions of the topic in the importance it attaches to scepticism both in Greek thought and in pre-twentieth century (...) views generally. (shrink)
David Hume is famous as a sceptical philosopher but the nature of his scepticism is difficult to pin down. Hume's True Scepticism provides the first sustained interpretation of Part 4 of Book 1 of Hume's Treatise: his deepest engagement with sceptical arguments, in which he notes that, while reason shows that we ought not to believe the verdicts of reason or the senses, we do so nonetheless. Donald C. Ainslie addresses Hume's theory of representation; his criticisms of Locke, (...) Descartes, and other predecessors; his account of the imagination; his understanding of perceptions and sensory belief; and his bundle theory of the mind and his later rejection of it. (shrink)
I advocate scepticism about epistemic blame; the view that we have good reason to think there is no distinctively epistemic form of blame. Epistemologists often find it useful to draw a distinction between blameless and blameworthy norm violation. In recent years, this has led several writers to develop theories of ‘epistemic blame.’ I present two challenges against the very idea of epistemic blame. First, everything that is supposedly done by epistemic blame is done by epistemic evaluation, at least according (...) to a prominent view about the social role of epistemic evaluation. Parsimony considerations count against introducing an idle mechanism that does the same work as an existing one. Second, no current theory of epistemic blame includes a plausible account of the force of epistemic blame or the practices that could express it. I conclude that we should give up the notion of epistemic blame. (shrink)
Berger and Mylopoulos (2019) critique recent scepticism about unconscious perception, focusing on experimental work from Peters and Lau, and theoretical work of my own. Central to their wide-ranging discussion is the claim that unconscious perception occupies a default status within both experimental and folk psychology. Here, I argue to the contrary that a conscious-perception-only model should be our default. Along the way, I offer my own analysis of Peters and Lau's study, assess the folk psychological status of unconscious perception, (...) discuss vision-for-action, and confront an important dilemma which Berger and Mylopoulos raise for the sceptic concerning the existence of unconscious mentality in general. (shrink)
McDowell has argued that external world scepticism is a pressing problem only in so far as we accept, on the basis of the argument from illusion, the claim that perceiving that p and hallucinating that p involve a highest common factor.
According to the standard view, Montaigne’s Pyrrhonian doubts would be in the origin of Descartes’ radical Sceptical challenges and his cogito argument. Although this paper does not deny this influence, its aim is to reconsider it from a different perspective, by acknowledging that it was not Montaigne’s Scepticism, but his Stoicism, which played the decisive role in the birth of the modern internalist conception of subjectivity. Cartesian need for certitude is to be better understood as an effect of the (...) Stoic model of wisdom, which urges the sage to build an inner space for self-sufficiency and absolute freedom. (shrink)
Scepticism does not argue that no one knows to avoid self-referential refutation. It falls back to arguing that no one knows that anyone knows, hence simply that no one knows, in accordance with the principle Kp iff KKp. This principle, however, is not available to the sceptic. He is stuck with -KKp without access to -Kp. The sceptic is thus no threat to the sort of knowledge that like Moore we all claim to have.
My overarching purpose is to illustrate the philosophical fruitfulness of expanding epistemology not only laterally across the social space of other epistemic subjects, but at the same time vertically in the temporal dimension. I set about this by first presenting central strands of Michael Williams' diagnostic engagement with scepticism, in which he crucially employs a Default and Challenge model of justification. I then develop three key aspects of Edward Craig's ‘practical explication' of the concept of knowledge so that they (...) may be seen to resonate positively with Williams's epistemological picture: the admixture of internalist and externalist features; the proto-contextualism; and, finally, the distinctively genealogical antisceptical impetus. In this way I aim to support and augment the socialized anti-sceptical case mounted by Williams, and so to show that expanding epistemology in the temporal dimension can be a productive move in central debates in epistemology. Philosophical Papers Vol. 37 (1) 2008: pp. 27-50. (shrink)
This is a collection of new essays written in honor of the work of Peter D. Klein, who has had and continues to have a tremendous influence in the development of epistemology. The essays reflect the breadth and depth of Klein’s work by engaging directly with his views and with the views of his interlocutors.
In the first half of the first century BC the Academy of Athens broke up in disarray. From the wreckage of the semi-sceptical school there arose the new dogmatic philosophy of Antiochus, synthesized from Stoicism and Platonism, and the hardline Pyrrhonist scepticism of Aenesidemus. With his extensive knowledge of the ways in which Plato was read and invoked as an authority in late antiquity Dr Tarrant builds a most impressive reconstruction of Philo of Larissa's brand of Platonism and of (...) its arrival in Middle Platonism, particularly that of Plutarch, long after the Academy's institutional demise. Particularly valuable is his exploitation for this purpose of a text barely discussed since its publication 80 years ago - a commentary on Plato's Theaetetus whose unidentified author Dr Tarrant has cogently argued to be a follower of Philo. Among many other achievements, Dr Tarrant throws much light on the relation of Aenesideman scepticism to the Academy. (shrink)
The puzzle that concerns me is whether it is possible to establish a substantive difference between photographic images and other kinds of visual image, which can explain the special epistemic and aesthetic qualities of photographs, without giving way to scepticism about photographic art. In this essay I offer a philosophical account of the photographic process which is able to resolve this tension. I use this account to argue that, while some photographs are mind independent, mind independence is not a (...) defining feature of all photographs. My account is substantive because it distinctively distinguishes the photographic process from other image-making processes and is able to explain the special qualities of photographs. It is also schematic, because it covers the fullest range of photographic technologies across a comprehensive range of applications. Finally, it is clarificatory because it is able to clear up misunderstandings and resolve philosophical problems. Beyond these theoretical aims, my broader purpose is to provide an account that has applicability for a wide range of art history cases and, furthermore, is acceptable to photographic practitioners. The paper was first presented at the Stockholm Museum of Modern Art, in an interdisciplinary symposium. (shrink)
That we have practical reasons to believe certain propositions even if sceptical arguments are cogent is nothing new. As Hume puts it, if sceptical principles were steadily accepted, “men would remain in a total lethargy until their miserable lives came to an end through lack of food, drink and shelter.” (Enquiry, 12, 2). This heart-breaking projection fails to move contemporary epistemologists who, for the most part, brush off pragmatist stances on scepticism. In this paper, I argue that the pragmatist (...) stance on scepticism is not necessarily as easily brushed off as some philosophers think. (shrink)
The idea that Western philosophy is a footnote to Plato is simplistic and inaccurate. Much of modern and contemporary epistemology owes a debt not so much to Platonism or Aristotelianism as to their antithesis: scepticism. Recent discussions in the history of philosophy have sparked a great deal of interest in the ancient sceptics, but until now they have been misunderstood and the significance of their philosophy not fully appreciated.
In the article, ‘Being Good in a World of Need: Some Empirical Worries and an Uncomfortable Philosophical Possibility,’ Larry Temkin presents some concerns about the possible impact of international aid on the poorest people in the world, suggesting that the nature of the duties of beneficence of the global rich to the global poor are much more murky than some people have made out. -/- In this article, I’ll respond to Temkin from the perspective of effective altruism—one of the targets (...) he attacks. I’ll argue that Temkin’s critique has little empirical justification, given the conclusions he wants to reach, and is therefore impotent. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is to examine the medieval posterity of the Aristotelian and Pyrrhonian treatments of the infinite regress argument. We show that there are some possible Pyrrhonian elements in Autrecourt's epistemology when he argues that the truth of our principles is merely hypothetical. By contrast, Buridan's criticisms of Autrecourt rely heavily on Aristotelian material. Both exemplify a use of scepticism.
The "culture of war" has been formed firmly and minutely enough by humanity and is used with greater effectiveness than the "culture of peace" in modern world. Scepticism is one of the philosophical traditions where conceptual idea was worked out and later became a theoretical base of culture of peace. Seeing the meaning of scepticism in formation of culture of peace as an ideological paradigm in proper perspective one should mark those intentions which were offered and taken by (...) philosophical society. The following principle can be referred to such philosophical intentions as principle of “isosthenea”, principle of “epoche”, tradition of “ataraxia”, principle of religious tolerance. The admission of principle of isosthenia means that the most preferable (that is valid, logical) way of settling the argument or conflict is a peaceful, compromise way because nobody can rely on greater truth of one's statement in comparison with the statement of an opponent. Principle of abstention from judgment (epoche) means that nobody can establish some values as absolute ones, nobody can possess the role of a judge while appraising the situation, and nobody can interfere the case which doesn't concern him. The result of abstention from judgment is the reaching of “ataraxia”. Scepticism of XVI - XVII centuries played a great role in methodological formation of culture of peace by means of manifestation and detailedbasing of principle of religious tolerance. (shrink)
Given the multiple crises that are occurring after decades of neoliberalism we should take care to examine neoliberalism’s claims and subject them to critical scrutiny. What I propose to do here is to examine some of the philosophical claims made by Friedrich Hayek and then submit them to scrutiny using tools from Hayek’s cousin, Ludwig Wittgenstein.
This paper presents a particularist and naturalist response to epistemic relativism. The response is based on an analysis of the source of epistemic relativism, according to which epistemic relativism is closely related to Pyrrhonian scepticism. The paper starts with a characterization of epistemic relativism. Such relativism is explicitly distinguished from epistemological contextualism. Next the paper presents an argument for epistemic relativism that is based on the Pyrrhonian problem of the criterion. It then considers a response to the problem of (...) the criterion proposed by Roderick Chisholm, which is based on epistemological particularism. After sketching Chisholm’s approach, a response to epistemic relativism is presented which combines Chisholm’s particularism with epistemic naturalism and reliabilism. A number of objections to the position are then considered. The paper ends with remarks about the relationship between particularism and the naturalistic response proposed to epistemic relativism. (shrink)
The irreducibility thesis of phenomenal consciousness can only succeed against the sceptical attack and avoid solipsism iff it can coherently establish the transition from subjective certainty to the objectivity of knowledge. The sceptical attack on the relationship between the phenomenal qualitative character of experience about the subjects own mental fact and the awareness of the qualitative properties of the phenomenal object can be avoided through establishing the immediacy of experience. The phenomenal realist become successful in establishing the subjective certainty about (...) the knowledge of phenomenal consciousness, however, has been failed in establishing objective certainty of knowledge, which leads to several epistemological problems (i.e., scepticism about the independent existence of external world, knowledge about the external reality and the existence of other mind; popularly known as the harder problem of consciousness) in philosophy of mind. In this paper, my objective is to reveal the undesirable consequences of representationalism. Representationalism is not an ideal option for responding to the sceptical attack against the other minds and the reality of the external world. It always leaves an open question for us about the relation between the representation of the object of experience and consciousness. Representationalistic theories of experience violates the principles of phenomenality by rejecting the immediacy of experience and has been committing the pragmatic contradiction by reducing the phenomenal properties to representational properties. The categorization of knowledge about phenomenality as inferential knowledge by representationalist leave no room for foundational knowledge about phenomenality. (shrink)
Outlines of Scepticism, by the Greek philosopher Sextus Empiricus, is a work of major importance for the history of Greek philosophy. It is the fullest extant account of ancient scepticism, and it is also one of our most copious sources of information about the other Hellenistic philosophies. Its first part contains an elaborate exposition of the Pyrrhonian variety of scepticism; its second and third parts are critical and destructive, arguing against 'dogmatism' in logic, epistemology, science and ethics (...) - an approach that revolutionized the study of philosophy when Sextus' works were rediscovered and published in the sixteenth century. This volume presents the accurate and readable translation which was first published in 1994, together with a substantial new historical and philosophical introduction by Jonathan Barnes. (shrink)
It is widely thought that sceptical arguments, if correct, would show that everyday empirical knowledge‐claims are false. Against this, I argue that the very generality of traditional sceptical arguments means that there is no direct incompatibility between everyday empirical claims and sceptical scenarios. Scepticism calls into doubt, not ordinary empirical beliefs, but philosophical attempts to give a deep ontological explanation of such beliefs. G. E. Moore's attempt to refute scepticism (and idealism) was unsuccessful, because it failed to recognise (...) that philosophical scepticism operates on a different level from that on which we make – or doubt – particular empirical claims. And, as I argue with specific reference to work by Nozick and Fogelin, Moore’s basic confusion is still widely shared in contemporary discussions of scepticism. (shrink)
Ernest Sosa has argued that the solution to dream scepticism lies in an understanding of dreams as imaginative experiences – when we dream, on this suggestion, we do not believe the contents of our dreams, but rather imagine them. Sosa rebuts scepticism thus: dreams don’t cause false beliefs, so my beliefs cannot be false, having been caused by dreams. I argue that, even assuming that Sosa is correct about the nature of dreaming, belief in wakefulness on these grounds (...) is epistemically irresponsible. The proper upshot of the imagination model, I suggest, is to recharacterize the way we think about dream scepticism: the sceptical threat is not, after all, that we have false beliefs. So even though dreams don’t involve false beliefs, they still pose a sceptical threat, which I elaborate. (shrink)