Natural doubts

Metaphilosophy 39 (3):305–324 (2008)
Abstract
Many philosophers now argue that the doubts of the philosophical sceptic are unnatural ones, in that they are not forced on us by considerations that any reasonable person would have to accept as compelling but only arise if one has already accepted certain controversial theoretical commitments. In this article I defend the naturalness of philosophical scepticism against such criticisms. After defining "global ontological scepticism," I examine the work of a number of anti-sceptical philosophers—Michael Huemer, Michael Williams, and John McDowell. Although McDowell does move the debate to a deeper level by interpreting scepticism as a challenge to the very possibility of the mind's apprehending reality by being in a rational rather than a merely causal relation to it, none of them succeeds in showing that global ontological scepticism is, in the relevant sense, unnatural. This is not to say that the sceptic is correct; simply that it has not been shown that we can reasonably dismiss the sceptical questions and thereby evade the need to engage seriously with the sceptical arguments.
Keywords scepticism  brain in a vat  Michael Williams  foundationalism  John McDowell
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