Skepticism, Externalism, and Inference to the Best Explanation

Abstracta 4 (1):5-26 (2008)
This paper focuses on a combination of the antiskeptical strategies offered by semantic externalism and the inference to the best explanation. I argue that the most difficult problems of the two strategies can be solved, if the strategies are combined: The strategy offered by semantic externalism is successful against standard skeptical brain-in-a-vat arguments. But the strategy is ineffective, if the skeptical argument is referring to the recent-envatment scenario. However, by focusing on the scenario of recent envatment the most difficult problems of the antiskeptical strategy posed by the inference to the best explanation can be solved. The most difficult problems with this strategy are: (1) Why is an explanation of our experience offered by the skeptical hypothesis more complex than our standard explanation? (2) Why is the more complex explanation less likely to be true? By focussing on the recent envatment hypothesis both questions can be answered satisfactorily. Therefore, the combination of semantic externalism and the inference to the best explanation yields a powerful antiskeptical argument.
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