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Skepticism

Edited by John Greco (Saint Louis University)
Assistant editor: Everett Fulmer (Saint Louis University)
About this topic
Summary Skepticism involves doubt, or at least a reluctance to commit. For example, some philosophers are moral skeptics, claiming that no one can know what is right or wrong. Skepticism about the "external world" is more general, denying that there is knowledge of the world “outside our minds.”  Even more generally, some skeptics claim that there is no knowledge at all.  Philosophers have long explored reasons for and against various skeptical positions and argued about the consequences of adopting various skeptical stances.   In the ancient world, skepticism was recommended as a way of life.  The general claim was that living with an attitude of skeptical doubt is superior (morally and/or practically) to living with an attitude of dogmatic certainty.  In the modern world (i.e., the 1600s through the 1800s), skepticism was more often treated as something to be avoided, and considerable philosophical energy was put into strategies for doing so.  In contemporary philosophy, skepticism is typically framed as a theoretical problem rather than a practical one. The concern is to closely consider the best arguments for skepticism and to explore how best to respond to them.  Attempts to answer skeptical arguments have inspired philosophers to adopt substantive positions in epistemology, but also in ontology, philosophy of mind, philosophy of language, and moral philosophy.  
Key works The Oxford Handbook of Skepticism provides a comprehensive introduction to skeptical arguments and responses to skepticism.  Influential volumes include Popkin 1964Unger 1975Stroud 1984; and Williams 1991.   
Introductions Useful introductory articles include DeRose 1995; Greco 2007Pritchard 2002.
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Subcategories:See also:History/traditions: Skepticism
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  1. Laurence BonJour (1987). Nozick, Externalism, and Skepticism. In Luper-Foy Steven (ed.), The Possibility of Knowledge: Nozick and His Critics. Rowman & Littlefield
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  2. Laurence BonJour (1982). Review of James Cornman, Skepticism, Justification, and Explanation. [REVIEW] Philosophical Review 91 (4):612-615.
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  3. Aryeh Botwinick (1990). Skepticism. Temple University Press.
    Aryeh Botwinick argues for the recovery of a radical democratic tradition that emphasizes the role of individual participation in the development and control of social and political institutions. Such involvement implies philosophical skepticism—the assumption that the truth about what is the best course of action cannot be known with certainty and that, therefore, every person’s opinion has an equal claim to be considered. The crucial stumbling block to reappropriating this radical egalitarian tradition is the supposed unviability of a consistent skepticism. (...)
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  4. Jochen Briesen (2012). Skeptische Paradoxa –– Die philosophische Skepsis, kognitive Projekte und der epistemische Konsequentialismus. Mentis.
    Die These der philosophischen Skepsis besagt, dass Menschen über keinerlei Wissen bzw. Rechtfertigung verfügen. So unplausibel diese These klingen mag, so überraschend ist es, dass sie gleich durch eine Vielzahl an Argumenten verteidigt werden kann. Die besten dieser Argumente lassen sich in gewisser Hinsicht als Paradoxa verstehen: Aus äußerst plausiblen Prämissen werden in logisch einwandfreier Weise Konklusionen abgeleitet, die sehr unplausibel – ja, geradezu absurd sind. Befriedigende Lösungen skeptischer Paradoxa sind daher unerlässlich, um ein kohärentes Verständnis von Wissen und Rechtfertigung (...)
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  5. H. G. Campbell (1905). Ogers on Scepticism. [REVIEW] Journal of Philosophy 2 (3):80.
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  6. George Chatalian & Roderick M. Chisholm (1991). Epistemology and Skepticism: An Enquiry Into the Nature of Epistemology. Southern Illinois University.
    Convinced that both epistemology and philosophy have gone astray in the twentieth century, George Chatalian seeks to restore the classical tradition in both, in part by marshaling a mass of data about philosophical skepticism throughout the history of philosophy, data which taken as a whole are not to be found in any other work. Despite the extensive historical and linguistic investigations, however, the work is essentially a philosophical one. After outlining the theses he sees as central to the epistemology of (...)
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  7. Ross E. Cheit (1999). Junk Skepticism and Recovered Memory: A Reply to Piper. Ethics and Behavior 9 (4):295 – 318.
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  8. Michael Clark (1967). Review of E. Laszlo, Beyond Scepticism and Realism. [REVIEW] Philosophical Quarterly 17.
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  9. James Cleve (1977). Probability and Certainty: A Reexamination of the Lewis-Reichenbach Debate. Philosophical Studies 32 (4):323 - 334.
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  10. Tammy clewell (2004). Cavell and the Endless Mourning of Skepticism. Angelaki 9 (3):75 – 87.
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  11. Lorraine Code (2006). Skepticism and the Lure of Ambiguity. Hypatia 21 (3):222-228.
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  12. Stewart Cohen (1991). Skepticism, Relevance, and Relativity. In Brian P. McLaughlin (ed.), Dretske and His Critics. Basil Blackwell 17--37.
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  13. David John Cole (1979). Skepticism and Meaning. Dissertation, University of California, San Diego
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  14. Annalisa Coliva (2012). Scetticismo: Dubbio, Paradosso E Conoscenza. Laterza.
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  15. Juan Comesar'ia (2013). Reply to Pryor. In Matthias Steup & John Turri (eds.), Contemporary Debates in Epistemology. Blackwell 239.
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  16. S. C. Coval (1966). Scepticism and the First Person. London, Methuen.
    Originally published in 1966. This book considers the perceived asymmetries between the self and others, or between self and things. An indepth analysis of scepticism, dualism, belief, knowledge and semantics. A topic which is central to both epistemology but also the whole of contemporary philosophy.
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  17. Frederick Crews, José Guilherme Merquior, Rafe Champion, Leslie Graves & G. B. Madison (1990). Correspondence. Critical Review 4 (1-2):284-294.
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  18. Troy Cross (2007). Comments on Vogel. Philosophical Studies 134 (1):89 - 98.
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  19. Joseph Cruz (2010). 12 Is There a Reason for Skepticism? In Joseph Keim Campbell, Michael O.’Rourke & Harry S. Silverstein (eds.), Knowledge and Skepticism. MIT Press 287.
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  20. Fred D'Agostino & John Watkins (1987). Science and Scepticism. Philosophical Quarterly 37 (146):104.
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  21. J. Dancy (1986). Grayling, A. C., "The Refutation of Scepticism". [REVIEW] Mind 95:263.
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  22. Mario De Caro & Emidio Spinelli (eds.) (2007). Scetticismo: Una Vicenda Filosofica. Carocci.
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  23. Manuel de Pinedo & Hilan Bensusan (2009). The Sceptic as an Alarm Clock for Dreams in the Third Person. Teorema: International Journal of Philosophy 28 (1):68-74.
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  24. Douglas J. den Uyl (1995). Between Universalism and Skepticism. Review of Metaphysics 49 (1):150-151.
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  25. Barry S. Fagin, Leemon C. Baird, Jeffrey W. Humphries & Dino L. Schweitzer (2007). Skepticism and Cryptography. Knowledge, Technology and Policy 20 (4):231-242.
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  26. István Faragó-Szabó (2005). Az Újkori Szkepticizmus Története. Áron.
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  27. Richard Feldman (1982). "Skepticism, Justification, and Explanation" by James Cornman. [REVIEW] Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 43 (1):111.
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  28. Richard E. Flathman (1983). Egalitarian Blood and Skeptical Turnips. Ethics 93 (2):357-366.
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  29. Graeme Forbes (1985). Response to Mazoué and Brueckner. Philosophical Quarterly 35 (39):196.
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  30. Graeme Forbes (1984). Nozick on Scepticism. Philosophical Quarterly 34 (134):43-52.
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  31. Corbin Fowler (1987). Scepticism Revisited. Philosophy 62 (241):385 - 388.
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  32. Bruce Freed (1986). Modest Scepticism. Dialogue 25 (02):353-.
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  33. Brian Garrett (1999). A Sceptical Tension. Analysis 59 (263):205–206.
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  34. Lutz Geldsetzer (1971). Metaphysics, Scepticism, Science. Philosophy and History 4 (1):46-47.
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  35. Ken Gemes (2009). A Refutation of Global Scepticism. Analysis 69 (2):218-219.
    Various possibilities, that one is dreaming, that one is being deceived by a deceitful demon, that one is a brain in the vat being stimulated to think one has a body and is in a regular world, have been invoked to show that all one's experience-based beliefs might be false. Descartes in Meditation I advises that in order not to lapse into his careless everyday view of things he, or at least his meditator, should pretend that all his experience-based beliefs, (...)
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  36. Benjamin A. Gorman (2007). Review of Skepticism, Knowledge, and Forms of Reasoning. [REVIEW] Philosophy in Review 27 (6):411-412.
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  37. Anthony Grayling, Scepticism and Justification.
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  38. T. Greenwood (1971). Reason and Scepticism, By Michael A. Slote. (London: George Allen and Unwin, 1970. Pp.224. £3.). Philosophy 46 (178):363-.
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  39. A. Phillips Griffiths (1986). Stroud on Philosophical Scepticism. Inquiry 29 (1-4):377-381.
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  40. Sidney A. Gross (1969). The Scepticism of George Santayana. Tulane Studies in Philosophy 18:51-57.
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  41. Shefali Gupta (1974). Between Scepticism and Rationalism. Scientific Book Agency.
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  42. Philip P. Hanson (2004). Idealism, Scepticism, and Internal Relations: Remarks on Hymers's Philosophy and its Epistemic Neuroses. Dialogue 43 (3):577-586.
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  43. Gilbert Harman (1990). Skepticism and the Definition of Knowledge. Garland Pub..
    First Published in 1990. Routledge is an imprint of Taylor & Francis, an informa company.
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  44. Georges Hélal (1967). Beyond Scepticism and Realism. By Ervin Laszlo. The Hague, Martinus Nijhoff, 1966, 237 Pages. 26.30 Florins. [REVIEW] Dialogue 5 (4):671-673.
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  45. Robert Holyer (1989). Scepticism and Reasonable Doubt. Southwest Philosophy Review 5 (2):91-95.
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  46. Christopher Hookway (2000). Replies to Greco, Corbí, Moya, Grimaltos. Noûs 34:395 - 399.
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  47. Vincent Hope (1981). Ii. Scepticism as Tragedy. Inquiry 24 (4):470 – 480.
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  48. Peter Horban (1998). Faith, Scepticism, and Personal Identity J. J. MacIntosh and H. A. Meynell, Editors Calgary: University of Calgary Press, 1994, Xviii + 304 Pp. [REVIEW] Dialogue 37 (02):398-.
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  49. Terence E. Horgan, John L. Tienson & George Graham (2006). Internal-World Skepticism and Mental Self-Presentation. In Uriah Kriegel & Kenneth Williford (eds.), Self-Representational Approaches to Consciousness. MIT Press 41-61.
  50. Terry Horgan & Matjaž Potrč (2013). Epistemological Skepticism, Semantic Blindness, and Competence-Based Performance Errors. Acta Analytica 28 (2):161-177.
    The semantic blindness objection to contextualism challenges the view that there is no incompatibility between (i) denials of external-world knowledge in contexts where radical-deception scenarios are salient, and (ii) affirmations of external-world knowledge in contexts where such scenarios are not salient. Contextualism allegedly attributes a gross and implausible form of semantic incompetence in the use of the concept of knowledge to people who are otherwise quite competent in its use; this blindness supposedly consists in wrongly judging that there is genuine (...)
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