Neo-mooreanism, contextualism, and the evidential basis of scepticism

Acta Analytica 20 (2):3-25 (2005)
Abstract
Two of the main forms of anti-scepticism in the contemporary literature—namely, neo-Mooreanism and attributer contextualism—share a common claim, which is that we are, contra the sceptic, able to know the denials of sceptical hypotheses. This paper begins by surveying the relative merits of these views when it comes to dealing with the standard closure-based formulation of the sceptical problem that is focussed on the possession of knowledge. It is argued, however, that it is not enough to simply deal with this version of the sceptical challenge, since there is a more fundamental sceptical problem underlying the standard closure-based sceptical argument that can be expressed in terms of the evidential basis of our beliefs. Whilst it is argued that neo-Mooreanism has a slight edge over attributer contextualism when it comes to dealing with the closure-based formulation of the sceptical problem, it is claimed that this view is in an ever stronger dialectical position when it comes to the more pressing evidential formulation of the sceptical problem. It is shown that this is so even if one adapts the attributer contextualist thesis along the lines suggested by Michael Williams and Ram Neta so that it is explicitly designed to deal with the evidential variant of the sceptical problem.
Keywords contextualism  epistemology  evidence  neo-mooreanism  scepticism
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