This paper applies speech-act theory to craft a new response to Pyrrhonian skepticism and diagnose its appeal. Carefully distinguishing between different levels of language-use and noting their interrelations can help us identify a subtle mistake in a key Pyrrhonian argument.
In “Perceptual Entitlement, Reliabilism, and Scepticism,“ Frank Barel explores some important and under-discussed questions regarding the relation between Tyler Burge's views on perceptual entitlement, on the one hand, and the problem of skepticism, on the other. In this note, I would like to comment on a couple of aspects of Barel's article. First, I have my own take, different from Barel's, on the question of whether we can sketch an a priori anti-skeptical argument proceeding from perceptual anti-individualism. Second, I (...) discuss the question whether Barel's “Rationalistic“ anti-skeptical argument is successful. (shrink)
This chapter focuses on the responses that proponents of virtue epistemology (VE) make to radical skepticism and particularly to two related forms of it, Pyrrhonian skepticism and the “underdetermination-based” argument, both of which have been receiving widening attention in recent debate. Section 1 of the chapter briefly articulates these two skeptical arguments and their interrelationship, while section 2 explains the close connection between a virtue-theoretic and a neo-Moorean response to them. In sections 3 and 4 I advance arguments (...) for improving the prospects of virtue-theoretic responses, sketching a particular version of VE that by recasting somewhat how we understand the “externalist turn in epistemology” also suggests ways of improving the adequacy of philosophical diagnoses and responses to skepticism. (shrink)
In this paper, the author defends Peter van Inwagen’s modal skepticism. Van Inwagen accepts that we have much basic, everyday modal knowledge, but denies that we have the capacity to justify philosophically interesting modal claims that are far removed from this basic knowledge. The author also defends the argument by means of which van Inwagen supports his modal skepticism, offering a rebuttal to an objection along the lines of that proposed by Geirrson. Van Inwagen argues that Stephen Yablo’s (...) recent and influential account of the relationship between conceivability and possibility supports his skeptical claims. The author’s defence involves a creative interpretation and development of Yablo’s account, which results in a recursive account of modal epistemology, what the author calls the “safe explanation” theory of modal epistemology. (shrink)
The main claim of this essay is that knowledge is no more valuable than lasting true belief. This claim is surprising. Doesn't knowledge have a unique and special value? If the main claim is correct and if, as it seems, knowledge is not lasting true belief, then knowledge does not have a unique value: in whatever way knowledge is valuable, lasting true belief is just as valuable. However, this result does not show that knowledge is worthless, nor does it undermine our knowledge gathering practices. There (...) is, rather, a positive philosophical payoff: skepticism about knowledge is defused. Assuming one can have lasting true belief, then even if one cannot have knowledge, one can have something just as valuable. . (shrink)
In this paper I criticize libertarianism and skepticism about free will. The criticism of libertarianism takes some steps towards filling in an argument that is often mentioned but seldom developed in any detail, the argument that libertarianism is a scientifically implausible view. I say "take some steps" because I think the considerations I muster (at most) favor a less ambitious relative of that argument. The less ambitious claim I hope to motivate is that there is little reason to believe (...) that extant libertarian accounts satisfy a standard of naturalistic plausibility, even if they do satisfy a standard of naturalistic compatibility. The argument against skepticism about free will tries to show (1) perhaps the most prominent form of skeptical argument against the existence of free will does not work, and (2) there is a good general argument against skepticism about free will. (shrink)
Few philosophers believe that G. E. Moore's notorious proof of an external world can give us justification to believe that skepticism about perceptual beliefs is false. The most prominent explanation of what is wrong with Moore's proof—as well as some structurally similar anti-skeptical arguments—centers on conservatism: roughly, the view that someone can acquire a justified belief that p on the basis of E only if he has p-independent justification to believe that all of the skeptical hypotheses that undermine the (...) support lent by E to p are false. In this paper I argue that conservatism does not make trouble for Moore's proof. I do this by setting up a dilemma concerning the notion of "justification to believe" that figures in conservatism. On one understanding of justification to believe, conservatism is subject to obvious counterexamples. On another understanding of justification to believe, conservatism is consistent with Moore's "proof conferring justification upon its conclusion. Since these two understandings exhaust the logical space, the conservative indictment of Mooreanism fails. (shrink)
Reprinted in Philosophy of Religion: An Anthology, Wadsworth, 2013, 6th edition, eds. Michael Rea and Louis Pojman. In this essay, I argue that the moral skepticism objection to what is badly named "skeptical theism" fails.
Fallibilism is ubiquitous in contemporary epistemology. I argue that a paradox about knowledge, generated by considerations of truth, shows that fallibilism can only deliver knowledge in lucky circumstances. Specifically, since it is possible that we are brains-in-vats (BIVs), it is possible that all our beliefs are wrong. Thus, the fallibilist can know neither whether or not we have much knowledge about the world nor whether or not we know any specific proposition, and so the warrant of our knowledge-claims is much (...) reduced and second-order skepticism is generated. Since this is the case in both skeptical and everyday contexts, contextualism cannot resolve the paradox. (shrink)
Abstract: This essay explores the relation between feminist epistemology and the problem of philosophical skepticism. Even though feminist epistemology has not typically focused on skepticism as a problem, I argue that a feminist contextualist epistemology may solve many of the difficulties facing recent contextualist responses to skepticism. Philosophical skepticism appears to succeed in casting doubt on the very possibility of knowledge by shifting our attention to abnormal contexts. I argue that this shift in context constitutes an (...) attempt to exercise unearned social and epistemic power and that it should be resisted on epistemic and pragmatic grounds. I conclude that skepticism is a problem that feminists can and should take up as they address the social aspects of traditional epistemological problems. (shrink)
This article argues that introductory ethics classes can unwittingly create or confirm skeptical views toward morality. Introductory courses frequently include critical discussion of skeptical positions such as moral relativism and psychological egoism as a way to head off this unintended outcome. But this method of forestalling skepticism can have a residual (and unintended) skeptical effect. The problem calls for deeper pedagogical-cum-philosophical engagement with the underlying sources of skepticism. The paper provides examples of how to do this and explains (...) the additional benefits of teaching moral skepticism. (shrink)
Abstract: In Mind and World, McDowell conceives of the content of perceptual experiences as conceptual. This picture is supposed to provide a therapy for skepticism, by showing that empirical thinking is objectively and normatively constrained. The paper offers a reconstruction of McDowell's view and shows that the therapy fails. This claim is based on three arguments: 1) the identity conception of truth he exploits is unable to sustain the idea that perception-judgment transitions are normally truth conducing; 2) it could (...) be plausible only from an externalist point of view that is in tension with the view of normativity that motivates conceptualism; 3) the identity conception of truth is incompatible with McDowell's recent version of conceptualism in terms of ‘non-propositional intuitive contents’. (shrink)
Skeptical theists purport to undermine evidential arguments from evil by appealing to the fact that our knowledge of goods, evils, and their interconnections is significantly limited. Michael J. Almeida and Graham Oppy have recently argued that skeptical theism is unacceptable because it results in a form of moral skepticism which rejects inferences that play an important role in our ordinary moral reasoning. In this reply to Almeida and Oppy's argument we offer some reasons for thinking that skeptical theism need (...) not lead to any such objectionable form of moral skepticism. (shrink)
From a number of quarters have come attempts to answer some form of skepticism—about knowledge of the external world, freedom of the will, or moral reasons—by showing it to be performatively self-defeating. Examples of this strategy are subject to a number of criticisms, in particular the criticism that they fail to shift the burden of proof from the anti-skeptical position, and so fail to establish the epistemic entitlement they seek. To these approaches I contrast one way of understanding Kant’s (...) core anti-skeptical arguments in the Critique of Pure Reason. Kant’s goal is the more modest one of showing the applicability of the concepts of substance and cause to experience, against those who might call such application incoherent, or a category mistake. I explain why this goal makes Kant’s approach more promising than those of neo-Kantian practitioners of otherwise structurally-similar strategies. (shrink)
In the history of philosophical thought, few themes loom as large as skepticism. Skepticism has been the most visible and important part of debates about knowledge. Skepticism at its most basic questions our cognitive achievements, challenges our ability to obtain reliable knowledge; casting doubt on our attempts to seek and understand the truth about everything from ethics, to other minds, religious belief, and even the underlying structure of matter and reality. Since Descartes, the defense of knowledge against (...)skepticism has been one of the primary tasks not just of epistemology but philosophy itself. The Oxford Handbook of Skepticism features twenty-six newly commissioned chapters by top figures in the field. Part One contains articles explaining important kinds of skeptical reasoning. Part Two focuses on responses to skeptical arguments. Part Three concentrates on important contemporary issues revolving around skepticism. As the first volume of its kind, the articles make significant contributions to the debate on skepticism. (shrink)
I argue that Cartesian skepticism about the external world leads to a vicious regress of skeptical attitudes, the only principled and unproblematic response to which requires refraining from taking the very first skeptical step.
Abstract: Ernest Sosa has recently articulated an insightful response to skepticism and, in particular, to the dream argument. The response relies on two independent moves. First, Sosa offers the imagination model of dreaming according to which no assertions are ever made in dreams and no beliefs are involved there. As a result, it is possible to distinguish dreaming from being awake, and the dream argument is blocked. Second, Sosa develops a virtue epistemology according to which in appropriately normal conditions (...) our perceptual beliefs will be apt. Hence, in these conditions, we will have at least animal knowledge, and the conclusion of the dream argument is undermined. In this article, I examine various moves that the skeptic can make to resist Sosa's challenge, and I contrast the proposal to a neo-Pyrrhonian stance. In the end, there is surprisingly little disagreement about the status of ordinary perceptual beliefs in the two stances. (shrink)
According to global skepticism, we know nothing. According to local skepticism, we know nothing in some particular area or domain of discourse. Unlike their global counterparts, local skeptics think they can contain our invincible ignorance within limited bounds. I argue that they are mistaken. Local skepticism, particularly the kinds that most often get defended, cannot stay local: if there are domains whose truths we cannot know, then there must be claims outside those domains that we cannot know (...) even if they are true. My argument focuses on one popular form of local skepticism, ethical skepticism, but I believe that the argument generalizes to cover other forms as well. (shrink)
Throughout the history of philosophy, skepticism has posed one of the central challenges of epistemology. Opponents of skepticism--including externalists, contextualists, foundationalists, and coherentists--have focussed largely on one particular variety of skepticism, often called Cartesian or Academic skepticism, which makes the radical claim that nobody can know anything. However, this version of skepticism is something of a straw man, since virtually no philosopher endorses this radical skeptical claim. The only skeptical view that has been truly held--by (...) Sextus, Montaigne, Hume, Wittgenstein, and, most recently, Robert Fogelin--has been Pyrrohnian skepticism. Pyrrhonian skeptics do not assert Cartesian skepticism, but neither do they deny it. The Pyrrhonian skeptics' doubts run so deep that they suspend belief even about Cartesian skepticism and its denial. Nonetheless, some Pyrrhonians argue that they can still hold "common beliefs of everyday life" and can even claim to know some truths in an everyday way. This edited volume presents previously unpublished articles on this subject by a strikingly impressive group of philosophers, who engage with both historical and contemporary versions of Pyrrhonian skepticism. Among them are Gisela Striker, Janet Broughton, Don Garrett, Ken Winkler, Hans Sluga, Ernest Sosa, Michael Williams, Barry Stroud, Robert Fogelin, and Roy Sorensen. This volume is thematically unified and will interest a broad spectrum of scholars in epistemology and the history of philosophy. (shrink)
Disjunctivism is the view that perceptual experience is either constituted by fact in the world or mere appearance. This view is said to be able to guarantee our cognitive contact with the world, and thus remove a crucial “prop” upon which skepticism depends. This paper has two aims. First, it aims to show that disjunctivism is a solution to Cartesian skepticism. Cartesian skepticism is an epistemological thesis, not an ontological one. Therefore, if there is an external world, (...) we may well undergo a veridical experience, and thus we can take advantage of disjunctivism to adopt an anti-evidential-skepticism strategy to counter Cartesian skepticism. Second, this paper argues that disjunctivism fails to solve Pyrrhonian skepticism. To counter Pyrrhonian skepticism, one has to give reasons both for his belief and for his believing. But disjunctivism can only account the former, that is, the reason for the content of perceptual belief. Given that one’s experience in good case and bad case is subjectively indistinguishable, one cannot just use his experience to justify his believing. This shows that disjunctivism cannot meet the requirement to provide an adequate account for reflective knowledge. (shrink)
Skeptical theism combines theism with skepticism about the ability of human beings to know God’s reasons for permitting suffering. In recent years, it has become perhaps the most prominent theistic response from philosophers to the evidential argument from evil. Some critics of skeptical theism charge that it implies positions that theists and many atheists alike would reject, such as skepticism about our knowledge of the external world and about our knowledge of our moral obligations. I discuss these charges, (...) with emphasis on the charge of moral skepticism. I argue that the charges have merit, and I conclude by rebutting the claim that God’s commands could give skeptical theists moral guidance despite the morally skeptical implications of their position. (shrink)
We revisit an important exchange on the problem of radical skepticism between Richard Rorty and Michael Williams. In his contribution to this exchange, Rorty defended the kind of transcendental approach to radical skepticism that is offered by Donald Davidson, in contrast to Williams’s Wittgenstein-inspired view. It is argued that the key to evaluating this debate is to understand the particular conception of the radical skeptical problem that is offered in influential work by Barry Stroud, a conception of the (...) skeptical problem which generates metaepistemological ramifications for anti-skeptical theories. In particular, we argue that, contra Williams, Rorty’s view that Davidson was offering a theoretical diagnosis of radical skepticism can be consistently maintained with his transcendental approach. (shrink)
In his early writings, Kant says that the solution to the puzzle of how morality can serve as a motivating force in human life is nothing less than the “philosophers’ stone.” In this dissertation I show that for years Kant searched for the philosophers’ stone in the concept of “respect” (Achtung), which he understood as the complex effect practical reason has on feeling. I sketch the history of that search in Chapters 1-2. In Chapter 3 I show that Kant’s analysis (...) in Groundwork I is incomplete because it does not explain how respect functions as a feeling in motivating choice. In Chapter 4 I argue that Kant’s subsequent attempt to sidestep this explanation in Groundwork III is unsuccessful, and that his position remains open to a skeptical threat. The argument in the second Critique, which I reconstruct in Chapters 5-6, overcomes this threat, and in doing so explains how the feeling of respect is both painful and pleasurable. -/- In the course of defending these claims, I provide an alternative reading of the shift in Kant’s ethical project from the Groundwork of 1785 to the second Critique of 1788 Against a common view in the literature, I argue that the shift does not concern the direction of Kant’s deduction (from freedom to morality, or morality to freedom); rather, it concerns his view of human sensibility and the resources he thinks we have to make our practical self-understanding intelligible. In the second Critique, I argue, Kant develops a novel approach to moral feeling from the perspective of the human agent; and this in turn clears room in his ethics for a new kind of a priori knowledge—namely, knowledge of what the activity of practical reason must feel like. By way of conclusion, I offer a few reasons for why the form of Kant’s argument in the second Critique is still relevant today, as it shows why we can only address moral skepticism from a first-personal perspective. (shrink)
Although Kripke’s skepticism leads to the conclusion that meaning does not exist, his argument relies upon the supposition that more than one interpretation of words is consistent with linguistic evidence. Relying solely on metaphors, he assumes that there is a multiplicity of possible interpretations without providing any strict proof. In his book The Taming of the True, Neil Tennant pointed out that there are serious obstacles to this thesis and concluded that the skeptic’s nonstandard interpretations are “will o’ wisps.” (...) In this paper, contra Tennant, I demonstrate how to construct alternative interpretations of the language of algebra. These constructed interpretations avoid Tennant’s objections and are shown to be interdefinable with the standard interpretation. Kripke’s skepticism is, as it were, an incarnate demon. In contrast, it is currently uncertain whether the same technique is generally applicable to the construction of an alternative interpretation of natural language. However, the reinterpretation of those aspects of natural language that directly relate to numbers seems to be a promising candidate for the development of nonstandard interpretations of natural language. (shrink)
Radical skepticism about the external world is founded on two assumptions: one is that the mind and the external world are logically independent; the other is that all our evidence for the nature of that world consists of facts about our minds. In this paper, I explore the option of denying the epistemic, rather than the logical assumption. I argue that one can do so only by embracing externalism about justification, or, after all, by rejecting the logical independence assumption. (...) Since (I argue) externalism is not a solution to the problem of skepticism, this means that skepticism is false only if the mind and the world are not logically independent. (shrink)
In ' Unnatural Doubts' Michael Williams argues that Cartesian skepticism is not truly an "intuitive problem" (that is, one which we can state with little or no appeal to contentious theories) at all. According to Williams, the skeptic has rich theoretical commitments all his own, prominent among which is the epistemic priority thesis. I argue, however, that Williams's diagnostic critique of the epistemic priority thesis fails on his own conception of what is required for success. Furthermore, in a brief (...) "Afterword" I argue that the later Wittgenstein (to whom Williams sometimes appeals) would concur with my critique of Williams's antiskeptical efforts. (shrink)
Some philosophers argue that we are justified in rejecting skepticism because it is explanatorily inferior to more commonsense hypotheses about the world. Focusing on the work of Jonathan Vogel, I show that this “abductivist” or “inference to the best explanation” response rests on an impoverished explanatory framework which ignores the explanatory gap between an object's having certain properties and its appearing to have those properties. Once this gap is appreciated, I argue, the abductivist strategy is defeated.
Epistemic contextualism was originally motivated and supported by the response it provides to skeptical paradox. Although there has been much discussion of the contextualist response to skeptical paradox, not much attention has been paid to the argument from skepticism for contextualism. Contextualists argue that contextualism accounts for the plausibility and apparent inconsistency of a set of paradoxical claims better than any classical invariantist theory. In this paper I focus on and carefully examine the argument from skepticism for contextualism. (...) I argue not only that the prima facie advantage of contextualism is specious, but also that contextualism is in fact at a competitive disadvantage with respect to two classical invariantist views. I also argue that contextualism takes an arbitrary and unsatisfying strategy in its response to skepticism. That contextualism is alone in taking this arbitrary strategy marks a second competitive disadvantage for it. In addition, I argue that the contextualist response to skeptical paradox regenerates a skeptical paradox which contextualism is powerless to solve. Consequently, the argument from skepticism for contextualism fails. Furthermore, this feature of the contextualist response to skeptical paradox completely undermines the motivation and support for contextualism deriving from its treatment of skeptical paradox. I conclude that the argument from skepticism for contextualism fails, and that the contextualist response to skeptical paradox fails to motivate contextualism, pending the success of another argument for the contextualist thesis. (shrink)
According to a Moorean response to skepticism, the standards for knowledge are invariantly comparatively low, and we can know across contexts all that we ordinarily take ourselves to know. It is incumbent upon the Moorean to defend his position by explaining how, in contexts in which S seems to lack knowledge, S can nevertheless have knowledge. The explanation proposed here relies on a warranted-assertability maneuver: Because we are warranted in asserting that S doesn’t know that p, it can seem (...) that S does in fact lack that piece of knowledge. Moreover, this warranted-assertability maneuver is unique and better than similar maneuvers because it makes use of H. P. Grice’s general conversational rule of Quantity—“Do not make your contribution more informative than is required”—in explaining why we are warranted in asserting that S doesn’t know that p. (shrink)
People -- Who was Huet? -- The censura : why and when? -- The birth of skepticism -- Malebranche's surprising silence -- The downfall of cartesianism -- Kinds -- Huet a cartesian? -- Descartes and skepticism : the standard interpretation -- Descartes and skepticism : the texts -- Thoughts -- The cogito : an inference? -- The transparency of mind -- The cogito as pragmatic tautology -- Doubts -- The reality of doubt -- The generation of doubt (...) -- The response to doubt -- Rules -- The criterion of truth -- The trump argument -- Circles -- The simple circularity of the meditations -- The inner circle(s) -- Gods -- Gassendist influences -- The objections of objections -- The rejection of intentionality -- Virtues -- Descartes's voice -- Betting the family farm -- The propagation of light -- The heart-beat -- The moving earth -- Faith and reason -- Descartes as methodological academic skeptic. (shrink)
These lectures by one of the most influential and original philosophers of the twentieth century constitute a sustained argument for the philosophical basis of romanticism, particularly in its American rendering. Through his examination of such authors as Emerson, Thoreau, Poe, Wordsworth, and Coleridge, Stanley Cavell shows that romanticism and American transcendentalism represent a serious philosophical response to the challenge of skepticism that underlies the writings of Wittgenstein and Austin on ordinary language.
Baron Reed has developed a new argument for skepticism: (1) contemporary epistemologists are all committed to two theses, fallibilism and attributabilism; unfortunately, (2) these two theses about knowledge are incompatible; therefore, (3) knowledge as conceived by contemporary epistemologists is impossible. In this brief paper I suggest that Reed's argument appears to rest on an understanding of attributabilism that is so strong (call it maximal attributabilism) that it's doubtful that many contemporary epistemologists actually embrace it. Nor does Reed offer any (...) direct argument for the truth of maximal attributabilism. Therefore, we need not be persuaded by Reed's new argument for skepticism. (shrink)
The theory of recognition arises within Hegel's confrontation with epistemological skepticism and aims at responding to the questions raised by modern skepticism concerning the accessibility of the external world, of other minds, and of one's own mind. This is possible to the extent that the theory of recognition is the guiding thread of a critique of the modern foundational theory of knowledge and, at the same time, the point of departure for an alternative approach. In this article I (...) will dwell on six stages of the evolution of Hegel's thought prior to the Phenomenology (1797-1806),stages shed great light on the direction taken by his argumentative strategy. Synthetically, the stages are as follows: 1. Hegel naturalizes the epistemological questions; 2. to do so he critiques foundationalism qua theory of empirical knowledge; 3. and qua theory of epistemic justification; 4. the critique of foundationalism is linked to a critique of the corresponding representationalistic theory of perception; 5. this, in turn, is linked to a critique of the monological theories of self-consciousness and to the development of a model of the rise of self-conscious knowing; 6. finally, Hegel synthesizes these epistemological views in a theory of knowledge qua recognition and in a metaphilosophical theory of philosophical rationality qua self-recognition: knowledge without foundation is thus the condition of possibility of philosophy’s self-justification. (shrink)
In this paper, I defend a non-skeptical intuitionist approach to moral epistemology from recent criticisms. Starting with Sinnott-Armstrong's skeptical attacks, I argue that a familiar sort of skeptical argument rests on a problematic conception of the evidential grounds of our moral judgments. The success of his argument turns on whether we conceive of the evidential grounds of our moral judgments as consisting entirely of non-normative considerations. While we cannot avoid skepticism if we accept this conception of our evidential grounds, (...) that's because accepting this conception of our evidential grounds is tantamount to accepting the skeptic's conclusion. We have nothing to fear from arguments for skepticism from skepticism. (shrink)
Disagreement is a pervasive feature of human life whose skeptical implications have been emphasized particularly by the ancient Pyrrhonists and by contemporary moral skeptics. Although the connection between disagreement and skepticism is also a focus of analysis in the emerging and burgeoning area of epistemology concerned with the significance of controversy, it has arguably not received the full attention it deserves. The present volume explores for the first time the possible skeptical consequences of disagreement in different areas and from (...) different perspectives, with an emphasis in the current debate over the epistemic impact of disagreement. The thirteen new essays collected here examine the Pyrrhonian approach to disagreement and its relevance to the present epistemological discussions of the topic; the relationship between disagreement and moral realism and antirealism; disagreement-based skeptical arguments in contemporary epistemology; and disagreement and the possibility of philosophical knowledge and justified belief. Given the ever-growing interest in both the significance of disagreement and the challenge of skepticism, this volume makes a new contribution by conjugating two important trends in current philosophical research. (shrink)
In this paper I examine, and reject, one of the chief philosophical arguments that purports to show that Pyrrhonian Skepticism is incompatible with possessing any beliefs. That argument, first put forward by Jonathan Barnes and since accepted by many philosophers, focuses on the skeptic's resolute suspension of judgment concerning one philosophical issue, namely whether criteria of truth exist. In short, the argument holds that, because skeptics suspend judgment whether criteria of truth exist, they have no basis on which to (...) discriminate between their impressions, which is a necessary condition for belief formation. I show that this argument fails because it misunderstands both the nature of criteria of truth and the epistemic consequences of suspending judgment concerning their existence. Thus, I clear the main philosophical obstacle preventing an interpretation of Pyrrhonism as consistent with possessing beliefs (associated most famously with Michael Frede). (shrink)
As a way of participating in the discussion on the disciplinary nature of philosophy of education, this article attempts to find another distinctive way of relating philosophy to education for the studies in philosophy of education. Recasting philosophical skepticism, which has been dismissed by Dewey and Rorty in their critiques of modern epistemology, it explores whether Cavell's romantic interpretation of it can allow us to conceive of skepticism as an exemplary practice of education, especially internal to the learner. (...) This opens up the possibility of viewing the disciplinary nature of philosophy of education as congenial to other humanities like literature or religious studies, rather than to social sciences as usually considered. (shrink)
Those of us who have followed Fred Dretske's lead with regard to epistemic closure and its impact on skepticism have been half-wrong for the last four decades. But those who have opposed our Dretskean stance, contextualists in particular, have been just wrong. We have been half-right. Dretske rightly claimed that epistemic status is not closed under logical implication. Unlike the Dretskean cases, the new counterexamples to closure offered here render every form of contextualist pro-closure maneuvering useless. But there is (...) a way of going wrong under Dretske's lead. As the paper argues, Cartesian skepticism thrives on closure failure in a way that is yet to be acknowledged in the literature. The skeptic can make do with principles which are weaker than the familiar closure principles. But I will further claim that this is only a momentary reprieve for the skeptic. As it turns out, one of the weaker principles on which a skeptical modus tollens must rest can be shown false. (shrink)
This essay deals with a selected part of an epistemological controversy provided by Tūsī in response to the skeptical arguments reported by Rāzī that is related to what might be called "intellectual skepticism," or skepticism regarding the judgments of the intellect, particularly in connection with self-evident principles. It will be shown that Rāzī has cited and exposed a position that seems to be no less than a medieval version of empiricism. Tūsī, in contrast, has presented us with a (...) position that rejects such empiricism. The comparative aim of this essay is to draw attention to some similarities as well as some points of divergence between the kind of skeptical debate we are focusing on here, and some relevant epistemological discussions in the later traditions in the West. ". (shrink)
An apparently increasing number of philosophers take free will skepticism to pose a serious challenge to some of our practices. This must seem odd to many—why should anyone think that free will skepticism is relevant for our practices, when nobody seems to think that other canonical forms of philosophical skepticism (for example, skepticism about induction or other minds) are relevant for our practices? Part of the explanation may be epistemic, but here I focus on a metaethical (...) explanation. Free will skepticism is special because it is compatible with ‘basic moral reasons’—moral reasons acknowledged by all mainstream ethicists—and other minds and induction skepticism are not. One example is our reason not to intentionally harm others. Practical seriousness about other minds and induction skepticism undermines this reason, but practical seriousness about free will skepticism only undermines a potential overrider of this reason, that is, the reason of retribution. (shrink)
It may be possible to scientifically test philosophical skepticism; at least this is what I shall maintain. The argument develops the naturalistic insight that there may be no particular reason to suppose that nature has selected Homo sapiens’ epistemic capacities such that we are ideally suited to forming a true theory of everything, or indeed, a true theory of much of anything. Just as chimpanzees are cognitively limited - there are many concepts, ideas, and theories beyond their grasp - (...) so too might our conception of the universe seem limited from the point of view of some creature more “evolved” than humans. On the other hand, some physicists (et al.) have argued that humans are on the verge of discovering a “final theory of everything”. Such epistemic “optimism” seems to directly contradict the idea that we might be cognitively limited. To adjudicate between these views I shall suggest the outlines of several “crucial tests” that involve attempting to create creatures who stand to us, with respect to intelligence and wisdom, as we do to apes. A positive result from any of these experiments will indicate that the skeptical view is correct, while failure to create “higher” intelligences lends support to the epistemic optimists’ position. 2. (shrink)