Scepticism and its sources

A number of recent philosophers, including Michael Williams, Barry Stroud and Donald Davidson, have argued that scepticism about the external world stems from the foundationalist assumption that sensory experience supplies the data for our beliefs about the world. In order to assess this thesis, I offer abrief characterisation of the logical form of sceptical arguments. I suggest that sceptical arguments rely on the idea that many of our beliefs about the world are ‘underdetermined’ by the evidence on which they are based. Drawing on this characterisation of scepticism, I argue that Williams, Stroud andDavidson are right to see the foundationalist assumption as essential to the sceptic’s argument, but wrong to think that scepticism is inevitable once that assumption is in place. By pursuing an analogy with some recent debates in the philosophy of science, I try to locate the additional assumptions which the sceptic must make, in order to derive her conclusion.
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DOI 10.1111/j.1933-1592.2003.tb00310.x
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References found in this work BETA
John McDowell (1994). Mind and World. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
Keith DeRose (1995). Solving the Skeptical Problem. Philosophical Review 104 (1):1-52.

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