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Summary Is it possible to have philosophical knowledge, or justified beliefs about philosophy? Are there reasons to be skeptical about philosophy itself? There are two key kinds of questions here: first, is there something about the study of philosophy that makes it especially difficult to attain philosophical knowledge? (Maybe reliance on intuition is problematic.) Second, are general skeptical strategies applicable to philosophy? (Could there be an 'evil demon' scenario for our philosophical beliefs, the way there could about our perceptual ones?)
Key works Many experimental philosophers have challenged our access to philosophical truths; see for example Weinberg et al 2001 and Weinberg 2007. Harman 1977 gives a general form of critique to intuition-based philosophical inquiry, especially in ethics; see Pust 2001 for an overview and response. Beebe 2011 considers whether one can develop skeptical scenarios for a priori realms, the way one can for perceptual ones.
Introductions Pust 2012 lays out many of the central issues about whether philosophers should trust intuitions.
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  1. David J. Alexander (2013). The Problem of Respecting Higher-Order Doubt. Philosophers' Imprint 13 (18).
    This paper argues that higher-order doubt generates an epistemic dilemma. One has a higher-order doubt with regards to P insofar as one justifiably withholds belief as to what attitude towards P is justified. That is, one justifiably withholds belief as to whether one is justified in believing, disbelieving, or withholding belief in P. Using the resources provided by Richard Feldman’s recent discussion of how to respect one’s evidence, I argue that if one has a higher-order doubt with regards to P, (...)
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  2. Robert P. Amico (2000). Scepticism and the Foundation of Epistemology. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 61 (3):711-714.
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  3. Antanas Andrijauskas (2009). Reflections on Metaphilosophy and the Underlying Causes of Methodological Transformations in Modern Comparative Philosophy. In M. T. Stepani͡ant͡s (ed.), Knowledge and Belief in the Dialogue of Cultures. Council for Research in Values and Philosophy.
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  4. Robert Audi (2008). Skepticism About A Priori Justification: Self-Evidence, Defeasibility, and Cogito Propositions. In John Greco (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Skepticism. Oxford University Press.
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  5. James Beebe (2011). A Priori Skepticism. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 83 (3):583 - 602.
    In this article I investigate a neglected form of radical skepticism that questions whether any of our logical, mathematical and other seemingly self-evident beliefs count as knowledge. ‘A priori skepticism,’ as I will call it, challenges our ability to know any of the following sorts of propositions: (1.1) The sum of two and three is five. (1.2) Whatever is square is rectangular. (1.3) Whatever is red is colored. (1.4) No surface can be uniformly red and uniformly blue at the same (...)
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  6. James Beebe (2008). Bonjour's Arguments Against Skepticism About the A Priori. Philosophical Studies 137 (2):243 - 267.
    I reconstruct and critique two arguments Laurence BonJour has recently offered against skepticism about the a priori. While the arguments may provide anti-skeptical, internalist foundationalists with reason to accept the a priori, I show that neither argument provides sufficient reason for believing the more general conclusion that there is no rational alternative to accepting the a priori.
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  7. Michael Bergmann (2008). Skeptical Theism and the Problem of Evil. In Thomas P. Flint & Michael C. Rea (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Philosophical Theology. Oxford University Press. 374--99.
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  8. Michael Bergmann (2001). Skeptical Theism and Rowe's New Evidential Argument From Evil. Noûs 35 (2):278–296.
    Skeptical theists endorse the skeptical thesis (which is consistent with the rejection of theism) that we have no good reason for thinking the possible goods we know of are representative of the possible goods there are. In his newest formulation of the evidential arguments from evil, William Rowe tries to avoid assuming the falsity of this skeptical thesis, presumably because it seems so plausible. I argue that his new argument fails to avoid doing this. Then I defend that skeptical thesis (...)
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  9. Michael Bergmann & Michael Rea (2005). In Defence of Sceptical Theism: A Reply to Almeida and Oppy. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 83 (2):241 – 251.
    Some evidential arguments from evil rely on an inference of the following sort: 'If, after thinking hard, we can't think of any God-justifying reason for permitting some horrific evil then it is likely that there is no such reason'. Sceptical theists, us included, say that this inference is not a good one and that evidential arguments from evil that depend on it are, as a result, unsound. Michael Almeida and Graham Oppy have argued (in a previous issue of this journal) (...)
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  10. Núria Sara Miras Boronat, Die Welt Als Grund: Wittgenstein, Gadamer Und James. Akten des XXII. Deutscher Kongress für Philosophie.
  11. Jason Brennan (2010). Scepticism About Philosophy. Ratio 23 (1):1-16.
    Suppose a person who is agnostic about most philosophical issues wishes to have true philosophical beliefs but equally wishes to avoid false philosophical beliefs. I argue that this truth-seeking, error-avoiding agnostic would not have good grounds for pursuing philosophy. Widespread disagreement shows that pursuing philosophy is not a reliable method of discovering true answers to philosophical questions. More likely than not, pursuing philosophy leads to false belief. Many attempts to rebut this sceptical argument fail.
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  12. Michael Briand (1995). Postmodernism and Politics: Skepticism or Pragmatism? Journal of Speculative Philosophy 9 (2):111 - 124.
    We can identify two broad categories of post-modernist political views: a "weak" view and a "strong" view. The latter cannot support a practice of democratic politics. In contrast, the "weak" view is compatible with a conception of democratic politics that is pluralistic, liberal, and pragmatic. The central issue over which the two views part ways is whether human beings have enough in common to permit mutual comprehension. The strong view implies that they do not, and for this reason must be (...)
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  13. J. Bridges, N. Kolodny & W. Wong (eds.) (forthcoming). The Possibility of Philosophical Understanding: Essays for Barry Stroud. Oxford University Press.
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  14. Anthony Brueckner (2007). Scepticism About Self-Knowledge Redux. Analysis 67 (296):311–315.
  15. Anthony L. Brueckner (1990). Scepticism About Knowledge of Content. Mind 99 (395):447-51.
    Focuses on the arguments that show the externalism of mental content. Discussion on the principle of knowledge identification; Account of basic self-knowledge; Interpretations of sentence content; Skepticism of knowledge content.
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  16. Stephen M. Campbell (2009). The Surprise Twist in Hume's Treatise. Hume Studies 35 (1&2):103-34.
    A Treatise of Human Nature opens with ambitious hopes for the science of man, but Hume eventually launches into a series of skeptical arguments that culminates in a report of radical skeptical despair. This essay is a preliminary exploration of how to interpret this surprising development. I first distinguish two kinds of surprise twist: those that are incompatible with some preceding portion of the work, and those that are not. This suggests two corresponding pictures of Hume. On one picture, he (...)
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  17. James Cargile (1972). In Reply to a Defense of Skepticism. Philosophical Review 81 (2):229-236.
  18. Yuri Cath, Metaphilosophy. Oxford Bibliographies Online.
    Often philosophers have reason to ask fundamental questions about the aims, methods, nature, or value of their own discipline. When philosophers systematically examine such questions, the resulting work is sometimes referred to as “metaphilosophy.” Metaphilosophy, it should be said, is not a well-established, or clearly demarcated, field of philosophical inquiry like epistemology or the philosophy of art. However, in the late 20th and early 21st centuries there has been a great deal of metaphilosophical work on issues concerning the methodology of (...)
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  19. Christopher Cherry & Guy Robinson (1977). Scepticism About Scepticism. Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 51:221 - 253.
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  20. Stewart Cohen (1998). Review: Fumerton on Metaepistemology and Skepticism. [REVIEW] Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 58 (4):913 - 918.
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  21. Annalisa Coliva, Sebastiano Moruzzi & Giorgio Volpe (2012). Introduction. Synthese 189 (2):221-234.
    This Introduction to the special issue on “Skepticism and Justification” provides a background to the nine articles collected here and a detailed summary of each, which highlights their interconnections and relevance to the debate at the heart of the issue.
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  22. Paul Davies (2005). Asymmetry and Transcendence: On Scepticism and First Philosophy. Research in Phenomenology 35 (1):118-140.
    In attempting to re-think the notion of asymmetry and its relations with 'first philosophy' and to see how that notion is tracked by the provocation of scepticism, the paper demonstrates something about the implications of Levinas' ethical asymmetry. The paper considers Levinas' tendency to introduce the topic of scepticism when confronted by the logical and textual difficulties that necessarily befall his account of the ethical relation. It argues that such an introduction commits Levinas to the claim: first philosophy entails a (...)
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  23. William Deangelis (2003). Hume's Scepticism and the Science of Human Nature. Hume Studies 29 (1):150-154.
  24. Kenneth M. Ehrenberg (2008). Archimedean Metaethics Defended. Metaphilosophy 39 (4-5):508-529.
    Abstract: We sometimes say our moral claims are "objectively true," or are "right, even if nobody believes it." These additional claims are often taken to be staking out metaethical positions, representative of a certain kind of theorizing about morality that "steps outside" the practice in order to comment on its status. Ronald Dworkin has argued that skepticism about these claims so understood is not tenable because it is impossible to step outside such practices. I show that externally skeptical metaethical theory (...)
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  25. Robert M. Ellis (2013). Middle Way Philosophy 3: The Integration of Meaning. Lulu.
    This third volume of the Middle Way Philosophy series applies the revolutionary view, taken from cognitive science, that meaning is found in our bodies rather than in a relationship between language and reality. Cognitive and emotive meaning cannot be separated. This approach reveals the basic error of the metaphysical views that depend on absolute cognitive meaning. It also provides the basis for an account of how we can integrate meaning. Each new time we connect an experience to a symbol we (...)
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  26. Robert M. Ellis (2012). Middle Way Philosophy 1: The Path of Objectivity. Lulu.
    The first of a planned series of 5 volumes on Middle Way Philosophy. Middle Way Philosophy was originally inspired by the Middle Way of the Buddha but is developed in an entirely Western context. It addresses the questions of objectivity, justification, facts and values, and the relationship of philosophy and psychology. It develops the concept of experiential adequacy to provide a non-metaphysical resolution of the dichotomy between absolutism and relativism in both facts and values.
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  27. Glenn W. Erickson (1990). Negative Dialectics and the End of Philosophy. Longwood Academic.
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  28. Bryan Frances (forthcoming). Philosophical Renegades. In Jennifer Lackey & David Christensen (eds.), The Epistemology of Disagreement: New Essays. OUP.
    If you retain your belief upon learning that a large number and percentage of your recognized epistemic superiors disagree with you, then what happens to the epistemic status of your belief? I investigate that theoretical question as well has the applied case of philosophical disagreement—especially disagreement regarding purely philosophical error theories, theories that do not have much empirical support and that reject large swaths of our most commonsensical beliefs. I argue that even if all those error theories are false, either (...)
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  29. Bryan Frances (2012). Discovering Disagreeing Epistemic Peers and Superiors. International Journal of Philosophical Studies 20 (1):1 - 21.
    Suppose you know that someone is your epistemic peer regarding some topic. You admit that you cannot think of any relevant epistemic advantage you have over her when it comes to that topic; you admit that she is just as likely as you to get P's truth-value right. Alternatively, you might know that she is your epistemic superior regarding the topic. And then after learning this about her you find out that she disagrees with you about P. In those situations (...)
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  30. Bryan Frances (2010). The Reflective Epistemic Renegade. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 81 (2):419 - 463.
    Philosophers often find themselves in disagreement with contemporary philosophers they know full well to be their epistemic superiors on the topics relevant to the disagreement. This looks epistemically irresponsible. I offer a detailed investigation of this problem of the reflective epistemic renegade. I argue that although in some cases the renegade is not epistemically blameworthy, and the renegade situation is significantly less common than most would think, in a troublesome number of cases in which the situation arises the renegade is (...)
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  31. Bryan Frances (2008). Live Skeptical Hypotheses. In John Greco (ed.), Oxford Handbook of Skepticism. Oxford.
    Those of us who take skepticism seriously typically have two relevant beliefs: (a) it’s plausible (even if false) that in order to know that I have hands I have to be able to epistemically neutralize, to some significant degree, some skeptical hypotheses, such as the brain-in-a-vat (BIV) one; and (b) it’s also plausible (even if false) that I can’t so neutralize those hypotheses. There is no reason for us to also think (c) that the BIV hypothesis, for instance, is plausible (...)
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  32. Bryan Frances (2005). Preface to 'Scepticism Comes Alive'. OUP.
    I once overheard a telling conversation between two of my colleagues. One asked the other about a new book on a topic of some importance to both of them. He asked whether they would have to do anything different because of the book. The second colleague said not, so the first colleague said he would not read the book. The conversation encapsulates an excellent test of the worth of a philosophical work: an idea is important if as a result of (...)
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  33. Bryan Frances (2005). When a Skeptical Hypothesis is Live. Noûs 39 (4):559–595.
    I’m going to argue for a set of restricted skeptical results: roughly put, we don’t know that fire engines are red, we don’t know that we sometimes have pains in our lower backs, we don’t know that John Rawls was kind, and we don’t even know that we believe any of those truths. However, people unfamiliar with philosophy and cognitive science do know all those things. The skeptical argument is traditional in form: here’s a skeptical hypothesis; you can’t epistemically neutralize (...)
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  34. Alfred J. Freddoso, Fides Et Ratio: A 'Radical' Vision of Intellectual Inquiry.
    Commentators on Pope John Paul II's encyclical Fides et Ratio(1) have not failed to notice the incongruity that envelops the Pope's defense of the powers of reason against contemporary forms of skepticism. As Nicholas Wolterstorff has put it: "How surprising and ironic that roughly two centuries after Voltaire and his cohorts mocked the church as the bastion of irrationality, the church, in the person of the pope, should be the one to put in a good word for reason." (2) In (...)
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  35. Richard Fumerton (1998). Review: Précis of Metaepistemology and Skepticism. [REVIEW] Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 58 (4):905 - 906.
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  36. Walter S. Gamertsfelder (1933). Current Skepticism of Metaphysics. The Monist 43 (1):105-118.
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  37. Carl Gillett (2001). The Methodological Role of Physicalism: A Minimal Skepticism. In Carl Gillett & Barry M. Loewer (eds.), Physicalism and its Discontents. Cambridge University Press.
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  38. Alan H. Goldman (1974). Can a Priori Arguments Refute the Sceptic? Dialogue 13 (01):105-109.
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  39. Daniel Greco (2012). The Impossibility of Skepticism. Philosophical Review 121 (3):317-358.
    Epistemologists and philosophers of mind both ask questions about belief. Epistemologists ask normative questions about belief—which beliefs ought we to have? Philosophers of mind ask metaphysical questions about belief—what are beliefs, and what does it take to have them? While these issues might seem independent of one another, there is potential for an interesting sort of conflict: the epistemologist might think we ought to have beliefs that, according to the philosopher of mind, it is impossible to have. This essay argues (...)
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  40. Thomas Grundmann (2013). Doubts About Philosophy? The Alleged Challenge From Disagreement. In Tim Henning & David Schweikard (eds.), Knowledge, Virtue, and Action. Essays on Putting Epistemic Virtues to Work. Routledge. 72-98.
    In philosophy, as in many other disciplines and domains, stable disagreement among peers is a widespread and well-known phenomenon. Our intuitions about paradigm cases, e.g. Christensen's Restaurant Case, suggest that in such controversies suspension of judgment is rationally required. This would prima facie suggest a robust suspension of judgment in philosophy. But we are still lacking a deeper theoretical explanation of why and under what conditions suspension is rationally mandatory. In the first part of this paper I will focus on (...)
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  41. Jani Hakkarainen (2012). Why Hume Cannot Be A Realist. Journal of Scottish Philosophy 10 (2):143-161.
    In this paper, I argue that there is a sceptical argument against the senses advanced by Hume that forms a decisive objection to the Metaphysically Realist interpretations of his philosophy – such as the different naturalist and New Humean readings. Hume presents this argument, apparently starting with the primary/secondary qualities distinction, both in A Treatise of Human Nature, Book 1, Part 4, Section 4 (Of the modern philosophy) (1739) and An Enquiry concerning Human Understanding, Section 12 (Of the Academical or (...)
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  42. Philip Hugly & Charles Sayward (1987). Relativism and Ontology. Philosophical Quarterly 37 (148):278-290.
    This paper deals with the question of whether there is objectivist truth about set-theoretic matters. The dogmatist and skeptic agree that there is such truth. They disagree about whether this truth is knowable. In contrast, the relativist says there is no objective truth to be known. Two versions of relativism are distinguished in the paper. One of these versions is defended.
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  43. John Kekes (1971). Scepticism, Rationalism, and Language. Metaphilosophy 2 (3):227–240.
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  44. Alexander Kelly (2013). Ramseyan Humility, Scepticism and Grasp. Philosophical Studies 164 (3):705-726.
    In ‘Ramseyan Humility’ David Lewis argues that a particular view about fundamental properties, quidditism, leads to the position that we are irredeemably ignorant of the identities of fundamental properties. We are ignorant of the identities of fundamental properties since we can never know which properties play which causal roles, and we have no other way of identifying fundamental properties other than by the causal roles they play. It has been suggested in the philosophical literature that Lewis’ argument for Humility is (...)
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  45. Peter D. Klein (2003). Coherence, Knowledge and Skepticism. In Olsson Erik (ed.), The Epistemology of Keith Lehrer. Kluwer. 281--297.
  46. Jennifer Lackey & David Christensen (eds.) (forthcoming). An OUP Volume on Disagreement. OUP.
  47. Rodrigo Laera (ed.) (2011). Los Desvíos de la Razón: El Lugar de la Facticidad En la Cadena de Justificaciones. Miño y Dávila.
    Moviéndose con libertad entre distintas tradiciones filosóficas, ajeno a cualquier división escolar del pensamiento, el autor describe las formas que toma el simulacro en un recorrido de gran alcance, que abarca desde teoría de la referencia hasta la ontología existencial. "`Todo lo que es profundo ama la máscara´, escribió Nietzsche. En efecto, ¿qué es nuestra existencia, sino una inmensa mascarada? Vivimos como si entendiéramos lo que sucede a nuestro alrededor. Nos comportamos como si pudiéramos prever las consecuencias de nuestros actos. (...)
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  48. Barry Lam (2011). On the Rationality of Belief-Invariance in Light of Peer Disagreement. Philosophical Review 120 (2):207 - 245.
    This paper considers two questions. First, what is the scope of the Equal Weight View? Is it the case that meeting halfway is the uniquely rational method of belief-revision in all cases of known peer disagreement? The answer is no. It is sometimes rational to maintain your own opinion in the face of peer disagreement. But this leaves open the possibility that the Equal Weight View is indeed sometimes the uniquely rational method of belief revision. Precisely what is the skeptical (...)
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  49. Stephen Law (2007). Enlightened Scepticism. The Philosophers' Magazine 38 (38):55-57.
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  50. Jimmy Alfonso Licon (2012). Sceptical Thoughts on Philosophical Expertise. Logos and Episteme 3 (3):449-458.
    My topic is two-fold: a reductive account of expertise as an epistemic phenomenon, and applying the reductive account to the question of whether or not philosophers enjoy expertise. I conclude, on the basis of the reductive account, that even though philosophers enjoy something akin to second-order expertise (i.e. they are often experts on the positions of other philosophers, current trends in the philosophical literature, the history of philosophy, conceptual analysis and so on), they nevertheless lack first-order philosophical expertise (i.e. expertise (...)
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