Graduate studies at Western
Inquiry 18 (4):409 – 436 (1975)
|Abstract||The word 'sceptic' usually refers to a theoretical figure whose philosophical importance lies exclusively in his challenge to any attempt to justify the belief in the possibility of knowledge. But the label was once applied to living persons - the so-called Pyrrhonists - whose scepticism encompassed a way of life. Following Sextus Empiricus's portrayal of the Pyrrhonists, Arne Naess has provided comprehensive arguments both in rebuttal of the frequent claims either that scepticism is logically inconsistent or that at least it is impossible to put into practice, and in support of scepticism as a fruitful philosophical attitude. The present essay attempts a critical consolidation of Naess's case for scepticism by drawing more explicitly than he does on his work in empirical semantics. The notion of degrees of preciseness is used to outline a philosophically interesting rationale for the Pyrrhonist's persistent abstention from any act or action that commits him to the truth of a proposition, and also to indicate why possible, or even inevitable lapses on the Pyrrhonist's part need not seriously prejudice either his status as a sceptic or the philosophical value of his sceptical ideal.|
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