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Skepticism

Edited by John Greco (Saint Louis University)
Assistant editor: Krista Hyde (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. Ferenc András (2010). A Kommunikációs Tér Filozófiája. Gondolat.
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  2. Alex Astrov (2005). The Sceptical Idealist: Michael Oakeshott as a Critic of the Enlightenment. Contemporary Political Theory 4 (2):211.
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  3. Philip Atkins & Ian Nance (2014). A Problem for the Closure Argument. International Journal for the Study of Skepticism 4 (1):36-49.
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  4. Alex Barber (2008). Sentence Realization Again. Croatian Journal of Philosophy 8 (2):233-240.
    Against criticism from Georges Rey I defend both my earlier account of sentence realization and my objection to his own ‘folie-a-deux’ account. The latter has two components, one sceptical (sentences and other standard linguistic entities are rarely if ever realized [‘produced’, ‘tokened’, ‘uttered’]) and the other optimistic (this is a benign outcome since communication is unaffected by our being mistaken in assuming that they are realized). Both components are flawed, notwithstanding Rey’s defence. My non-sceptical account of sentence realization avoids the (...)
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  5. Paul Benacerraf (1985). Skolem and the Skeptic. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 59:85-115.
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  6. Telma Souza Birchadel (2008). A figura do filósofo: ceticismo e subjetividade em Montaigne. Kriterion 49 (117):243-248.
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  7. Tad Brennan (2013). Casey Perin's The Demands of Reason. International Journal for the Study of Skepticism 3 (4):283-293.
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  8. 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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  9. Anthony Brueckner (2011). A Defense of Burge's "Self-Verifying Judgments". International Journal for the Study of Skepticism 1 (1):27-32.
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  10. Patrick Burke (1996). Skepticism and the Question of Community. Research in Phenomenology 26 (1):98-115.
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  11. Charles Arthur Campbell (1931). Scepticism and Construction. London, G. Allen & Unwin, Ltd..
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  12. Quassim Cassam, Foreword to P.F. Strawson's Scepticism and Naturalism: Some Varieties.
    In that book I had two different, though not unrelated aims. The first chapter was concerned with traditional scepticisms about, e.g., the external world and induction. In common with Hume and Wittgenstein (and even Heidegger) I argued that the attempt to combat such doubts by rational argument was misguided: for we are dealing here with the presuppositions, the framework, of all human thought and enquiry. In the other chapters my target was different. It was that species of naturalism which tended (...)
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  13. Quassim Cassam (1985). Foreword. In P. F. Strawson (ed.), Scepticism and Naturalism: Some Varieties. Routledge.
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  14. Erwin Chargaff (1986). Serious Questions: An Abc of Skeptical Reflections. Birkhäuser.
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  15. Ross E. Cheit (1999). Junk Skepticism and Recovered Memory: A Reply to Piper. Ethics and Behavior 9 (4):295 – 318.
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  16. Riccardo Chiaradonna (2011). Quel savoir apres le scepticisme? Plotin et ses predecesseurs sur la connaissance de soi, Histoire des doctrines de lantiquite classique 37. International Journal of the Platonic Tradition 5 (1):165-171.
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  17. Michael Clark (1967). Review of E. Laszlo, Beyond Scepticism and Realism. [REVIEW] Philosophical Quarterly 17.
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  18. Tammy clewell (2004). Cavell and the Endless Mourning of Skepticism. Angelaki 9 (3):75 – 87.
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  19. Adrian Coates (1929). A Sceptical Examination of Contemporary British Philosophy. London, New York [Etc.]Brentano's Ltd..
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  20. Lorraine Code (2006). Skepticism and the Lure of Ambiguity. Hypatia 21 (3):222-228.
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  21. Annalisa Coliva (2012). Scetticismo: Dubbio, Paradosso E Conoscenza. Laterza.
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  22. S. C. Coval (1966). Scepticism and the First Person. London, Methuen.
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  23. 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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  24. F. Davies (1998). How Sceptical is Kripke's 'Sceptical Solution'. Philsophia 26 (1-2):119-40.
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  25. Mario De Caro & Emidio Spinelli (eds.) (2007). Scetticismo: Una Vicenda Filosofica. Carocci.
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  26. Peter Robert Dear (1984). Marin Mersenne and the Probabilistic Roots of "Mitigated Scepticism". Journal of the History of Philosophy 22 (2):173-205.
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  27. Douglas J. den Uyl (1995). Between Universalism and Skepticism. Review of Metaphysics 49 (1).
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  28. Nicholas Denyer (1991). Symbolic Scepticism. [REVIEW] Phronesis 36 (3):313-318.
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  29. Nicholas Denyer (1991). Symbolic Scepticism. [REVIEW] Phronesis 36 (3):313 - 318.
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  30. Fred Dretske (1989). The Need to Know. In Marjorie Clay & Keith Lehrer (eds.), Knowledge and Skepticism. Westview Press.
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  31. Fred I. Dretske (1981). Scepticism: A Critical Appraisal. Philosophical Topics 12 (2):299-303.
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  32. Keith Dromm (2000). Rule-Following and Scepticism. Southwest Philosophy Review 17 (1):153-158.
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  33. Guillaume Dye (2013). Scepticisme et langage. By Lorenzo Corti. International Journal for the Study of Skepticism 3 (1):63-67.
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  34. Santiago Echeverri (2011). McDowell's Conceptualist Therapy for Skepticism. European Journal of Philosophy 19 (3):357-386.
    Abstract: In Mind and World, McDowell conceives of the content of perceptual experiences as conceptual. This picture is supposed to provide a therapy for skepticism, by showing that empirical thinking is objectively and normatively constrained. The paper offers a reconstruction of McDowell's view and shows that the therapy fails. This claim is based on three arguments: 1) the identity conception of truth he exploits is unable to sustain the idea that perception-judgment transitions are normally truth conducing; 2) it could be (...)
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  35. Roger E. Eichorn (2012). Nietzsche and the Ancient Skeptical Tradition. By Jessica N. Berry. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011. Pp. Xii+ 230. ISBN: 978-0-19-536842-0. [REVIEW] International Journal for the Study of Skepticism 2 (1):79-82.
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  36. Reinaldo Elugardo (2008). Review of Anandi Hattiangadi, Oughts and Thoughts: Scepticism and the Normativity of Meaning. [REVIEW] Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 2008 (4).
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  37. Engel (2000). Intemalism, the Gettier Problem, and Metaepistemological Skepticism. Grazer Philosophische Studien 60:99-117.
    When it comes to second-order knowledge (i.e. knowing that one knows), internalists typically contend that when we know that p, we can, by reflecting, directly know that we are knowing it. Gettier considerations are employed to challenge this internalistic contention and to make out a prima facie case for internalistic metaepistemological skepticism, the thesis that no one ever intemalistically knows that one internalistically knows that p. In particular, I argue that at the metaepistemological second-order level, the Gettier problem generates three (...)
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  38. Luiz Eva (2013). Michel de Montaigne: la culminación del escepticismo en el Renacimiento. By Manuel Bermúdez Vásquez. International Journal for the Study of Skepticism 3 (2):145-149.
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  39. István Faragó-Szabó (2005). Az Újkori Szkepticizmus Története. Áron.
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  40. Gail Fine (2013). Belief and Truth: A Skeptic Reading of Plato. International Journal for the Study of Skepticism 3 (2):131-144.
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  41. Michael Fischer (1989). Stanley Cavell and Literary Skepticism. University of Chicago Press.
    Stanley Cavell's work is distinctive not only in its importance to philosophy but also for its remarkable interdisciplinary range. Cavell is read avidly by students of film, photography, painting, and music, but especially by students of literature, for whom Cavell offers major readings of Thoreau, Emerson, Shakespeare, and others. In this first book-length study of Cavell's writings, Michael Fischer examines Cavell's relevance to the controversies surrounding poststructuralist literary theory, particularly works by Jacques Derrida, J. Hillis Miller, Paul de Man, and (...)
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  42. Richard E. Flathman (1983). Egalitarian Blood and Skeptical Turnips. Ethics 93 (2):357-366.
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  43. Antony Flew (1968). Scepticism and the First Person. By S. Coval. (Methuen. Pp. Xv + 116. Price 25s.). Philosophy 43 (164):170-.
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  44. Tito Flores (2009). Epistemic Levels, the Problem of Easy Knowledge and Skepticism. Veritas 54 (2).
    O problema do conhecimento fácil tem sido definido na literatura epistemológica contemporânea com um problema que nasce de duas formas distintas. O propósito deste ensaio é mostrar que essas supostas maneiras diferentes de gerar o mesmo problema em verdade originam dois problemas distintos, que requerem respostas distintas. Um deles está relacionado à aquisição fácil (inaceitável) de conhecimento de primeira-ordem e o outro à aquisição fácil (inaceitável) de conhecimento de segunda-ordem. Além disso, é apresentada a maneira como o infinitismo, a teoria (...)
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  45. Luciano Floridi (2010). Information, Possible Worlds and the Cooptation of Scepticism. Synthese 175 (1):63 - 88.
    The article investigates the sceptical challenge from an informationtheoretic perspective. Its main goal is to articulate and defend the view that either informational scepticism is radical, but then it is epistemologically innocuous because redundant; or it is moderate, but then epistemologically beneficial because useful. In order to pursue this cooptation strategy, the article is divided into seven sections. Section 1 sets up the problem. Section 2 introduces Borei numbers as a convenient way to refer uniformly to (the data that individuate) (...)
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  46. Luciano Floridi (1995). Cupiditas Veri Videndi: Pierre de Villemandy's Dogmatic Vs. Cicero's Sceptical Interpretation of 'Man's Desire to Know. British Journal for the History of Philosophy 3 (1):29 – 56.
    (1995). Cupiditas veri videndi: Pierre de Villemandy's dogmatic vs. Cicero's sceptical interpretation of ‘man's desire to know. British Journal for the History of Philosophy: Vol. 3, No. 1, pp. 29-56.
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  47. Bernard Flynn (2009). Merleau-Ponty and the Philosophical Position of Skepticism. In Robert Vallier, Wayne Jeffrey Froman & Bernard Flynn (eds.), Merleau-Ponty and the Possibilities of Philosophy: Transforming the Tradition. State University of New York Press.
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  48. Robert J. Fogelin (1984). Taking Skepticism Seriously. Journal of Philosophy 81 (10):552.
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  49. Richard Foley (1992). Can Metaphysics Solve the Problem of Skepticism? Philosophical Issues 2:131-147.
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  50. Graeme Forbes (1984). Nozick on Scepticism. Philosophical Quarterly 34 (134):43-52.
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