David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Journal of Philosophical Research 22:11-28 (1997)
Michael WiIliams maintains that skepticism about the extemal worId is vitiated by a commitment to foundationalism and epistemological realism. (The latter is, approximately, the view that there is such a thing as knowledge of the extemal world in general, which the skeptic can take as a target). I argue that skepticism is not encumbered in the ways Williams supposes. What matters, first of all, is that we can’t perceive the difference between being in an ordinary environment and being in the sort of situation the skeptic describes (e.g. having one’s brain manipulated by deceitful experimenters). This point can be upheld without embracing any substantial foundationalist tenet, such as the existence of basic beliefs, the availabiIity of something “given,” or the epistemic priority of experience. As to “epistemological realism,” I find that Williams has offered no principled way to distinguish between ordinary chaIIenges to knowledge and skeptical challenges which, supposedly, have no cIaim on our concem
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