The theoretical diagnosis of skepticism

Synthese 158 (1):19 - 39 (2007)
Abstract
Radical skepticism about the external implies that no belief about the external is even prima facie justified. A theoretical reply to skepticism has four stages. First, show which theories of epistemic justification support skeptical doubts (show which theories, given other reasonable assumptions, entail skepticism). Second, show which theories undermine skeptical doubts (show which theories, given other reasonable assumptions, do not support the skeptic’s conclusion). Third, show which of the latter theories (which non-skeptical theory) is correct, and in so doing show that all of the rival theories of justification, skeptical and non-skeptical alike, are mistaken. Fourth, explain why skeptical doubts are sometimes (or sometimes merely seem) intuitive, and thereby accommodate skeptical doubts without capitulation. Michael Williams has pioneered the very idea of a theoretical reply. A theoretical diagnosis consists in just the first two stages. An adequate reply, which is correct at each stage, would rebut the skeptic entirely. Williams’ own reply, I argue, is inadequate. I offer in its place an exhaustive and accurate diagnosis of skepticism. I distinguish four kinds of skepticism and five theories of justification. I then show which theories do, and which theories do not, support which kinds of skepticism.
Keywords Skepticism  Epistemic Justification  Reliabilism  Contextualism  Michael Williams
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    References found in this work BETA
    Jim Stone (2000). Skepticism as a Theory of Knowledge. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 60 (3):527-545.
    Citations of this work BETA
    John Martin Fischer & Neal A. Tognazzini (2011). The Physiognomy of Responsibility. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 82 (2):381-417.
    Peter Kung (2011). On the Possibility of Skeptical Scenarios. European Journal of Philosophy 19 (3):387-407.
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