David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Philosophical Studies 148 (1):39 - 60 (2010)
Modern-day heirs of the Cartesian revolution have been fascinated by the thought that one could utilize certain hypotheses – that one is dreaming, deceived by an evil demon, or a brain in a vat – to argue at one fell swoop that one does not know, is not justified in believing, or ought not believe most if not all of what one currently believes about the world. A good part of the interest and mystique of these discussions arises from the contention that the seeds of such arguments lie in our ordinary epistemic practices, so that external world skepticism can arise “from within”. But is this contention correct? I doubt it. Taking skepticism seriously requires that we address this question head on. To do so, I will approach skeptical arguments from a certain vantage point. I will try to stand, as far as possible, with both feet squarely in ordinary life. I will start out with all of our ordinary commitments about what is the case, about what we know or have reason to believe, about when someone knows, is justified, or has good reason to believe something, and about how one should proceed in deciding what to believe. My question, then, will be this. From within that vantage point can I somehow be moved in a reasonable way to accept the conclusion that I know far less about the world around me than I thought, or that epistemically speaking, I really ought not believe much of what I have believed about the world around me? In order for such movement to take place, I will have to find reason from within my ordinary standpoint to discount or reject much of what I ordinarily accept. And of course, that reason will have to come from some..
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