Skepticism, Self-knowledge and Responsibility

In Stephen Hetherington (ed.), Aspects of Knowing. Elsevier 97 (2006)
Modern skepticism can be usefully divided into two camps: the Cartesian and the Humean.1 Cartesian skepticism is a matter of a theoretical doubt that has little or no practical import in our everyday lives. Its employment concerns whether or not we can achieve a special kind of certain knowledge – something Descartes calls “scientia” 2—that is far removed from our everyday aims or standards of epistemic appraisal. Alternatively, Humean skepticism engages the ancient skeptical concern with whether we have good reason, or any reason at all, for our beliefs, including the common or garden beliefs that are presupposed in our ordinary practical affairs. On this traditional conception, philosophical doubt is a projection of everyday doubt and the lessons of the study are potentially lessons for the street. In this paper I shall focus on the Humean strain of skepticism whose focus concerns whether we have adequate reasons for our beliefs. Henceforth when I speak of skepticism it is this variety of skepticism that I am primarily referring to.3 I want to relate skepticism, so understood, to two kinds of self-knowledge. I shall argue that the failure of past solutions and dissolutions of skepticism to provide a satisfying response to the skeptic can be accounted for in terms of two stances that we can take towards our own..
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