Cartesian Skepticism

Edited by Christopher Ranalli (VU University Amsterdam, VU University Amsterdam)
About this topic

Cartesian skepticism is the problem of explaining how knowledge of (or justified belief about) the external world is possible given the challenge that we cannot know (or justifiably believe) the denials of skeptical hypotheses. The problem has its source in Rene Descartes’ Meditations on First Philosophy, and in particular, the First Meditation. In general, a Cartesian skeptical hypothesis is a possibility which is incompatible with the truth of what we believe about the world (or incompatible with what we believe being knowledge), but which is indistinguishable from what we take to be our normal circumstances, where our beliefs are not systematically false (or systematically unknowable). For example, in the First Meditation, Descartes considers the hypothesis that there is a powerful evil demon who renders his beliefs about the world false, while making it seem to him just as if they are true. The challenge Descartes raises is: how can we know that the evil demon hypothesis is false, if such a scenario is indistinguishable from what we take to be our actual scenario? Skepticism about the external world, then, is the thesis that knowledge of (or justified belief) about the external world is impossible. And a proponent of this form of skepticism is a Cartesian skeptic if they appeal to skeptical hypotheses in order to show that we cannot know (or justifiably believe) anything about the external world. The Cartesian skeptical argument is often presented as follows: (1) if we know that a proposition about the external world P is true, then we know the denial of the skeptical hypothesis SH. But (2) we do not (or cannot) know the denial of SH. Therefore, (3) we do not (or cannot) know that P. We can organize the literature on Cartesian skepticism around two central areas of focus: (a) the nature and structure of Cartesian skeptical arguments, and (b) responses to the Cartesian skeptical argument. Epistemologists are divided on the nature of the Cartesian skeptical argument. Proponents of the closure-principle formulation of the Cartesian skeptical argument maintain that the argument depends on a suitable closure principle for knowledge or justification. Proponents of the underdetermination-principle formulation maintain that the argument depends on a suitable underdetermination principle. Responses to the Cartesian skeptical argument can be divided into those which maintain that premise (1) is defective and those which maintain that premise (2) is defective. Moorean's reject premise (2), and argue that since we can know that P (e.g., I have two hands), and we know that P implies that SH is false, we are in a position to know that SH is false. Externalist Moorean’s reject premise (2), and argue that we can know that P if our believing that P is the product of a reliable belief-forming process (reliabilism), or if our belief that P is safe (safety theories). We can thus make a knowledge-preserving deduction from P to the denial of SH. Knowledge-first varieties reject premise (2), and argue that our evidence for P in our actual case is different from our evidence in the case in which SH is true, because our evidence is what we know, and in the actual case, we know that P, whereas, in SH, we do not know that P. Internalist Moorean's reject premise (2), and argue that our perceptual experiences provide us with knowledge (or justification) to believe P, and so deduce ~SH. Dogmatist varieties argue that these perceptual experiences alone provide us with prima facie justification to believe P, even though the strength of this justification is the same in the actual case as it is in the case in which SH is true. Epistemological Disjunctivist’s argue that the strength of the epistemic justification is different in the actual case than the case in which SH is true, and that the strength of our justification in our actual case is factive and accessible to us. A priorist’s reject premise (2), and argue that we can know that SH is false, even though this is not grounded in empirical evidence or reasons. Entitlement varieties ague that we have a default, non-evidential entitlement to reject SH. A priori argument varieties argue that there is an a priori argument for the conclusion that SH is false (e.g., from considerations about meaning or content). Explanationist’s reject premise (2), and argue that SH fails to explain our experiential evidence and beliefs better than what we take to be our actual scenario. Tracking theorist’s reject premise (1), and argue that our belief that P can track its truth even though our belief that SH is false fails to track its truth. Relevant alternatives theorist’s argue that SH is not a relevant epistemic alternative to P, so that even though our evidence is not sufficient for rejecting SH, it is sufficient for P. Contextualist’s argue that the truth-conditions of our knowledge-ascriptions are sensitive to context, allowing that, in ordinary contexts, ascriptions of “S knows that P” can be true even though, in skeptical contexts, ascriptions of “S knows that P” are false.

Key works

For the original presentation of Cartesian skepticism and the Cartesian skeptical argument, see Descartes 1996. For work on the nature of the Cartesian skeptical argument, see Unger 1975 , Nozick 1981, Stroud 1984, Williams 1991, and Pryor 2000. For work on closure-based and underdetermination-based formulations of the argument, see Yalçin 1992, Brueckner 1994, Cohen 1998, Vogel 2004, and Pritchard 2005. A classic response to Cartesian skepticism is Moore 1959. For Moorean responses from epistemic externalism, see Hill 1996, Sosa 1999, Greco 2000, and Pritchard 2005. For knowledge-first variants, see Williamson 2000. For dogmatist responses, see Pryor 2000, and Huemer 2000. For epistemological disjunctivist responses, see McDowell 2008 and Pritchard 2012. For explanationist responses, see Vogel 2005 and Vogel 1990. For entitlement responses, see Wright 2004. For a priori argument responses, see Kant 1998, Putnam 1981, and Davidson 1989. For truth-tracking responses, see Nozick 1981, and Zalabardo 2012. For relevant alternatives responses, see Dretske 1970 and Stine 1976. For contextualist responses, see Cohen 2000, Lewis 1996, and DeRose 1995.

Introductions For the historical context of Cartesian skepticism, see Bermúdez 2008 and Williams 2010. For introductions, see Stroud 1984 (Chapter 1), Luper 2011, Greco 2008, and Hazlett 2014. For collections, see DeRose & Warfield 1999. For recent work, see Pritchard 2002.
Related categories

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  1. Dream Skepticism and the Conditionality Problem.Kristoffer Ahlstrom - 2011 - Erkenntnis 75 (1):45-60.
    Recently, Ernest Sosa (2007) has proposed two novel solutions to the problem of dream skepticism. In the present paper, I argue that Sosa’s first solution falls prey to what I will refer to as the conditionality problem, i.e., the problem of only establishing a conditional—in this case, if x, then I am awake, x being a placeholder for a condition incompatible with dreaming—in a context where it also needs to be established that we can know that the antecedent holds, and (...)
  2. Descartes's Method of Doubt.Leslie Allan - manuscript
    Enlightenment philosopher, René Descartes, set out to establish what could be known with certainty, untainted by a deceiving demon. With his method of doubt, he rejected all previous beliefs, allowing only those that survived rigorous scrutiny. In this essay, Leslie Allan examines whether Descartes's program of skeptical enquiry was successful in laying a firm foundation for our manifold beliefs. He subjects Descartes's conclusions to Descartes's own uncompromising methodology to determine whether Descartes escaped from a self-imposed radical skepticism.
  3. Epistemic Closure, Skepticism and Defeasibility.Claudio Almeida - 2012 - Synthese 188 (2):197-215.
    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 (...)
  4. Transition From Doubt to Knowledge and Comprehension of the Mind Itself in Descartes’ Philosophy.Ilyas Altuner - 2011 - Beytulhikme An International Journal of Philosophy 1 (1):94-109.
    Descartes uses skepticism as a method in the search for truth and afterwards he arrives at the knowledge of truth by conception cogito, which is an intuitive proposition. Comprehension of the mind itself is asserted from which ego cannot be cut from thinking, and this conception is based on the existence of God who does exist to be contained in the mind conceptually. God is stated the most perfect being which does rescue mind from doubt and show its real being (...)
  5. Part Five: Skepticism in Early Cartesianism. Early German Reactions to Huet's Censura.Jean-Robert Armogathe - 2009 - In Maia Neto, José Raimundo, Gianni Paganini & John Christian Laursen (eds.), Skepticism in the Modern Age: Building on the Work of Richard Popkin. Brill.
  6. Skepticism and Theories of Justification.Benjamin Franklin Armstrong - 1980 - Dissertation, University of Pennsylvania
    An equally important part of the discussion concerns the role that doubt must play in inquiries about theories of justification. I argue that Chisholm's efforts to remove such considerations from these inquiries are mistaken. The importance of doubt is a point about which Wittgenstein has much to say in On Certainty. I try to bring to bear some of his insights. ;An important part of my discussion concerns where one is not to start when one is dealing with skeptical arguments. (...)
  7. Undercutting Underdetermination‐Based Scepticism.Natalie Alana Ashton - 2015 - Theoria 81 (4):333-354.
    According to Duncan Pritchard, there are two kinds of radical sceptical problem; the closure-based problem, and the underdetermination-based problem. He argues that distinguishing these two problems leads to a set of desiderata for an anti-sceptical response, and that the way to meet all of these desiderata is by supplementing a form of Wittgensteinian contextualism with disjunctivist views about factivity. I agree that an adequate response should meet most of the initial desiderata Pritchard puts forward, and that some version of Wittgensteinian (...)
  8. Ignorance and Knowledge: The Viability of Externalist Neo-Mooreanism as a Resonse to Radical Scepticism.John Asquith - 2017 - Dissertation, King's College London
    Here, I shall be examining the viability of a Moorean response to the Argument from Ignorance; i.e., one that tries to rebut the argument by denying its first premise that we cannot have knowledge that we are not BIVs. After first explicating the Argument from Ignorance in detail, I then go on to try and motivate this approach by critically examining two alternative approaches to dealing with radical scepticism: closure-denial, and attributer contextualism. Finding them wanting, I then turn to a (...)
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  9. La estrategia intencional de Dennett y el escepticismo.Ignacio Ávila - 2003 - Ideas Y Valores 121:41-63.
    La idea de que la mayoría de nuestras creencias son verdaderas constituye uno de los corolarios más importantes de la doctrina de los sistemas intencionales de Dennett por su significación epistemológica. En este ensayo examino el argumento de Dennett a favor de dicha idea teniendo como marco de referencia el tradicional debate en torno al escepticismo y luego esbozo rápidamente las consecuencias de este examen para la estrategia intencional.
  10. Schaffer's Demon.Nathan Ballantyne & Ian Evans - 2013 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 94 (4):552-559.
    Jonathan Schaffer (2010) has summoned a new sort of demon – which he calls the debasing demon – that apparently threatens all of our purported knowledge. We show that any debasing skeptical argument must attack the justification condition and can do so only if a plausible thesis about justification is false.
  11. Underdetermination and the Argument From Indirect Confirmation.Sorin Bangu - 2006 - Ratio 19 (3):269–277.
    In this paper I criticize one of the most convincing recent attempts to resist the underdetermination thesis, Laudan’s argument from indirect confirmation. Laudan highlights and rejects a tacit assumption of the underdetermination theorist, namely that theories can be confirmed only by empirical evidence that follows from them. He shows that once we accept that theories can also be confirmed indirectly, by evidence not entailed by them, the skeptical conclusion does not follow. I agree that Laudan is right to reject this (...)
  12. Scepticism: The External World and Meaning.Dorit Bar-On - 1990 - Philosophical Studies 60 (3):207 - 231.
    In this paper, I compare and contrast two kinds of scepticism, Cartesian scepticism about the external world and Quinean scepticism about meaning. I expose Quine's metaphysical claim that there are no facts of the matter about meaning as a sceptical response to a sceptical problem regarding the possibility of our knowledge of meanings. I argue that this sceptical response is overkill; for the sceptical problem about our knowledge of meanings may receive a treatment similar to the naturalistic treatment Quine himself (...)
  13. On the Existence of an External World.William Barrett - 1939 - Journal of Philosophy 36 (13):346-354.
  14. Constraints on Sceptical Hypotheses.James Beebe - 2010 - Philosophical Quarterly 60 (240):449-470.
    I examine the conditions which hypotheses must satisfy if they are to be used to raise significant sceptical challenges. I argue that sceptical hypotheses do not have to be logically, metaphysically or epistemically possible: they need only to depict scenarios subjectively indistinguishable from the actual world and to show how subjects can believe what they do while not having knowledge. I also argue that sceptical challenges can be raised against a priori beliefs, even if those beliefs are necessarily true. I (...)
  15. The Hyperbolic Way to the Truth From Balzac to Descartes : "Toute Hyperbole Tend Là, de Nous Amener À la Vérité Par l'Excès de la Vérité, C'est-À-Dire Par la Mensonge".Giulia Belgioioso - 2009 - In Maia Neto, José Raimundo, Gianni Paganini & John Christian Laursen (eds.), Skepticism in the Modern Age: Building on the Work of Richard Popkin. Brill.
  16. Sceptical Essays.Jose Benardete - 1982 - Review of Metaphysics 36 (2):463-464.
  17. Cartesian Skepticism: Arguments and Antecedents.José Luis Bermúdez - 2008 - In John Greco (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Skepticism. Oxford University Press.
    The most frequently discussed skeptical arguments in the history of philosophy are to be found in the tightly argued twelve paragraphs of Descartes’ Meditation One. There is considerable controversy about how to interpret the skeptical arguments that Descartes offers; the extent to which those arguments rest upon implicit epistemological and/or metaphysical presuppositions; their originality within the history of skepticism; and the role they play within Cartesian philosophy and natural science. This chapter begins by tracing the complex argumentation of Meditation One. (...)
  18. The Originality of Cartesian Skepticism: Did It Have Ancient or Mediaeval Antecedents?José Luis Bermúdez - 2000 - History of Philosophy Quarterly 17 (4):333 - 360.
  19. Levels of Scepticism in the First Meditation.José Luis Bermúdez - 1998 - British Journal for the History of Philosophy 6 (2):237-245.
  20. Scepticism and Science in Descartes.José Luis Bermúdez - 1997 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 57 (4):743-772.
    Recent work on Descartes has drastically revised the traditional conception of Descartes as a paradigmatic rationalist and foundationalist. The traditional picture, familar from histories of philosophy and introductory lectures, is of a solitary meditator dedicated to the pursuit of certainty in a unified science via a rigourous process of logical deduction from indubitable first principles. But the Descartes that has emerged from recent studies strikes a more subtle balance between metaphysics, physics, epistemology and the philosophy of science. There is much (...)
  21. Skepticism and Subjectivity.José Luis Bermúdez - 1995 - International Philosophical Quarterly 35 (2):141-158.
  22. Scepticism and Contrast Classes.Alexander Bird - 2001 - Analysis 61 (2):97–107.
    1. Contextualism seeks to acknowledge the power of sceptical arguments while permitting to be true at least some of the assertions of knowledge and justification we commonly make. It seems to me now just as if I am in an office in Edinburgh. According to the sceptic the claim that I am in fact in an office in Edinburgh is unjustified, since there is no reason I can give for this belief that is not also consistent with (or undermined by) (...)
  23. Naturalistic Responses to Skepticism.Carolyn Black - 1999 - Grazer Philosophische Studien 57:67-79.
    One of the many philosophical responses to scepticism is naturalism. It is explored how and to what extent it is successful in discussing these questions as they pertain external world scepticism. One interesting feature of naturalism is that it shares with scepticism the view that we lack proof and knowledge of an external world. The naturalist, however, unlike many sceptics and their more traditional disputants, doesn't think it matters. The first part of the paper contains a description of the naturalistic (...)
  24. Sources of Cartesian Doubt. Aristotle's Perplexity Becomes Descartes's Doubt: Metaphysics 3, 1 and Methodical Doubt in Benito Pereira and René Descartes.Constance Blackwell - 2009 - In Maia Neto, José Raimundo, Gianni Paganini & John Christian Laursen (eds.), Skepticism in the Modern Age: Building on the Work of Richard Popkin. Brill. pp. 231-248.
  25. The History of Scepticism From Erasmus to Descartes.Richard J. Blackwell - 1962 - Modern Schoolman 39 (4):391-393.
  26. A Closer Look at Closure Scepticism.Michael Blome-Tillmann - 2006 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society (Paperback) 106 (3):381-390.
    The most prominent arguments for scepticism in modern epistemology employ closure principles of some kind. To begin my discussion of such arguments, consider Simple Knowledge Closure (SKC): (SKC) (Kxt[p] ∧ (p → q)) → Kxt[q].1 Assuming its truth for the time being, the sceptic can use (SKC) to reason from the two assumptions that, firstly, we don’t know ¬sh and that, secondly, op entails ¬sh to the conclusion that we don’t know op, where ‘op’ and ‘sh’ are shorthand for ‘ordinary (...)
  27. An Empirical Refutation of Cartesian Scepticism.James Bogen & Morton Beckner - 1979 - Mind 88 (351):351-369.
  28. The Basing Relation and the Impossibility of the Debasing Demon.Patrick Bondy & J. Adam Carter - forthcoming - American Philosophical Quarterly.
    Descartes’ demon is a deceiver: the demon makes things appear to you other than as they really are. However, as Descartes famously pointed out in the Second Meditation, not all knowledge is imperilled by this kind of deception. You still know you are a thinking thing. Perhaps, though, there is a more virulent demon in epistemic hell, one from which none of our knowledge is safe. Jonathan Schaffer (2010) thinks so. The “Debasing Demon” he imagines threatens knowledge not via the (...)
  29. Knowledge, Scepticism, and Defeat: Themes From Klein.Rodrigo Borges, Branden Fitelson & Cherie Braden (eds.) - forthcoming - Springer.
    This is a collection of new essays written in honor of the work of Peter D. Klein, who has had and continues to have a tremendous influence in the development of epistemology. The essays reflect the breadth and depth of Klein’s work by engaging directly with his views and with the views of his interlocutors.
  30. Des Cartes' Skepticism of the Senses.O. K. Bouwsma - 1945 - Mind 54 (216):313-322.
  31. Scepticism in the Enlightenment.Harry M. Bracken - 2004 - International Studies in Philosophy 36 (1):252-254.
  32. The External World.C. D. Broad - 1921 - Mind 30 (120):385-408.
  33. Skepticism and the Cartesian Circle.Janet Broughton - 1984 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 14 (4):593 - 615.
    I argue that descartes thinks he can be metaphysically certain about each premise in the argument for god's existence, Even before he draws the argument's final conclusion that all his distinct ideas are metaphysically certain. The certainty of the personal premises is secured in the second meditation. The certainty of the causal premises, I argue, Arises from their central role in generating reasons for doubt of the kind that interest descartes.
  34. Klein on Closure and Skepticism.A. L. Brueckner - 2000 - Philosophical Studies 98 (2):139-151.
  35. A Defense of Burge's "Self-Verifying Judgments".Anthony Brueckner - 2011 - International Journal for the Study of Skepticism 1 (1):27-32.
    People have worried about the compatibility of anti-individualism and knowledge of the contents of one's thoughts. Skepticism about such knowledge rears its ugly head. The first—classic—response to such worries was Tyler Burge's contention that a subclass of judgments about one's own mental states are cogito-like: they are self-verifying, thereby guaranteed to be true. Finn Spicer has recently put forward an interesting argument against Burge's claim. In this paper, I defend Burge's account of self-verification against Spicer's argument.
  36. Essays on Skepticism.Anthony Brueckner - 2010 - Oxford University Press.
    The guiding questions of this volume are: Can we have knowledge of the external world of things outside our minds?
  37. Reply to Coffman on Closure and Skepticism.Anthony Brueckner - 2008 - Synthese 162 (2):167–171.
    E. J. Coffman defends Peter Klein’s work on epistemic closure against various objections that I raised in an earlier paper. In this paper, I respond to Coffman.
  38. Cartesian Skepticism, Content Externalism, and Self-Knowledge.Anthony Brueckner - 2005 - Veritas – Revista de Filosofia da Pucrs 50 (4):53-64.
    Há um argumento cético clássico derivado das Meditações sobre a filosofia primeira. Este artigo oferece uma formulação contemporânea padrão do argumento, pretendendo mostrar que ninguém sabe qualquer coisa sobre o mundo extramental. A obra de Hilary Putnam na filosofia da linguagem e da mente parece fornecer uma resposta a uma versão atualizada do argumento cético cartesiano. Em sua maior parte, este artigo é dedicado a uma análise e crítica das meditações anti-céticas de Putnam. PALAVRAS-CHAVE – Descartes. Putnam. Ceticismo. Cérebros em (...)
  39. Fallibilism, Underdetermination, and Skepticism.Anthony Brueckner - 2005 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 71 (2):384–391.
    Fallibilism about knowledge and justification is a widely held view in epistemology. In this paper, I will try to arrive at a proper formulation of fallibilism. Fallibilists often hold that Cartesian skepticism is a view that deserves to be taken seriously and dealt with somehow. I argue that it turns out that a canonical form of skeptical argument depends upon the denial of fallibilism. I conclude by considering a response on behalf of the skeptic.
  40. Modest Transcendental Arguments.Anthony Brueckner - 1996 - Philosophical Perspectives 10 (Metaphysics):265-280.
    Kantian transcendental arguments are aimed at uncovering the necessary conditions for the possibility of thought and experience. If such arguments are to have any force against Cartesian skepticism about knowledge of the external world, then it would seem that the conditions the transcendental argument uncovers must be non-psychological in nature, and their special status must be knowable a priori. In "Transcendental Arguments", Barry Stroud raised the question whether there are any such conditions., He answered that it was very doubtful that (...)
  41. Review: Skepticism and Foundationalism. [REVIEW]Anthony Brueckner - 1994 - Noûs 28 (4):533 - 547.
  42. Knowledge of Content and Knowledge of the World.Anthony Brueckner - 1994 - Philosophical Review 103 (2):327-343.
    In "Externalism, Self-Knowledge and Skepticism,"' Kevin Falvey and Joseph Owens argue that externalism with respect to mental content does not engender skepticism about knowledge of content. They go on to argue that even when externalism is freed from epistemological difficulties, the thesis cannot be used against Cartesian skepticism about knowledge of the external world. I would like to raise some questions about these claims.
  43. The Structure of the Skeptical Argument.Anthony Brueckner - 1994 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 54 (4):827-835.
    Much has been written about epistemological skepticism in the last ten or so years, but there remain some unanswered questions concerning the structure of what has become the canonical Cartesian skeptical argument. In this paper, I would like to take a closer look at this structure in order to determine just which epistemic principles are required by the argument.
  44. Problems with the Wright Route to Skepticism.Anthony Brueckner - 1992 - Mind 101 (402):309-317.
  45. ``Skepticism and Epistemic Closure&Quot.Anthony Brueckner - 1985 - Philosophical Topics 13 (3):89--117.
  46. Brains in a Vat.Anthony L. Brueckner - 1986 - Journal of Philosophy 83 (3):148-167.
    In chapter 1 of Reason, Truth, and History, Hilary Putnam argues from some plausible assumptions about the nature of reference to the conclusion that it is not possible that all sentient creatures are brains in a vat. If this argument is successful, it seemingly refutes an updated form of Cartesian skepticism concerning knowledge of physical objects. In this paper, I will state what I take to be the most promising interpretation of Putnam's argument. My reconstructed argument differs from an argument (...)
  47. Transmission for Knowledge Not Established.Anthony L. Brueckner - 1985 - Philosophical Quarterly 35 (139):193-195.
    In "Nozick on Scepticism", Graeme Forbes attempts to establish a Transmission Principle for knowledge which has been challenged by a number of anti-sceptical philosophers (such as Nozick). This principle (or something like it) seems to be required by Cartesian sceptical arguments, so if it could be refuted, this would apparently rid us of such scepticism. I do not believe that Nozick or anyone else has refuted the principle, yet I will argue that Forbes has certainly failed to establish it.
  48. Kantian Anti-Skeptical Strategies.Anthony Leo Brueckner - 1981 - Dissertation, University of California, Los Angeles
    I investigate two kinds of reconstruction of Kant's anti-skeptical strategy in the Critique of Pure Reason. On both strategies, an attempt is made to refute Cartesian skepticism about knowledge of physical objects in space by way of arguing from a premise about self-consciousness which the skeptic would accept. I do not assess the strategies on their accuracy of interpretation of Kant, although I do use Kantian texts to set up the problem of the dissertation in chapter I. Rather, I determine (...)
  49. Skepticism: Historical and Contemporary Inquiries.G. Anthony Bruno & A. C. Rutherford (eds.) - 2018 - Routledge.
    Skepticism is one of the most enduring and profound of philosophical problems. With its roots in Plato and the Sceptics to Descartes, Hume, Kant and Wittgenstein, skepticism presents a challenge that every philosopher must reckon with. In this outstanding collection philosophers engage with skepticism in five clear sections: the philosophical history of skepticism in Greek, Cartesian and Kantian thought; the nature and limits of certainty; the possibility of knowledge and related problems such as perception and the debates between objective knowledge (...)
  50. Natural Doubts: Williams's Diagnosis Of Scepticism.Reid Buchanan - 2002 - Synthese 131 (1):57-80.
    Michael Williams believes that scepticism about the external world seems compelling only because the considerations that underpin it are thought to be "mere platitudes" about e.g., the nature and source of human knowledge, and hence, that if it shown through a "theoretical diagnosis" that it does not rest upon such platitudes, but contentious theoretical considerations that we are no means bound to accept, we can simply dismiss the absurd sceptical conclusion. Williams argues that scepticism does presuppose two extremely contentious doctrines, (...)
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