The Impossibility of Skepticism

Philosophical Review 121 (3):317-358 (2012)
Abstract
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 that this conflict does arise and that it creates problems for traditional skeptical views in epistemology. In particular, it argues that on certain popular views about the nature of belief, it is impossible to adopt the near-global agnosticism recommended by the skeptical epistemologist. On other plausible views, it is possible only in special circumstances, and this limitation undermines skeptical epistemological claims. The only views about the nature of belief on which there are no metaphysical hurdles to adopting the agnosticism recommended by the skeptic are views that face powerful objections—objections that are completely independent of antiskeptical epistemological considerations.
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Citations of this work BETA
Daniel Greco (2014). A Puzzle About Epistemic Akrasia. Philosophical Studies 167 (2):201-219.
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Peter Kung (2011). On the Possibility of Skeptical Scenarios. European Journal of Philosophy 19 (3):387-407.
Stephen Hetherington, Fallibilism. Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Daniel Greco (2014). A Puzzle About Epistemic Akrasia. Philosophical Studies 167 (2):201-219.
Jill Rusin (2012). Characterizing Skepticisms Import. International Journal for the Study of Skepticism 2 (2):99-114.
Michael Lopresto (2011). The Ethics of Belief. Emergent Australasian Philosophers (4):9.
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