Cartesian Skepticism

Edited by Christopher Ranalli (VU University Amsterdam, University of Edinburgh)
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Summary

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.
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322 found
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  1. added 2020-05-11
    Idealism and Illusions.Robert Smithson - forthcoming - European Journal of Philosophy.
    According to the idealist, facts about phenomenal experience determine facts about the physical world. Any such view must account for illusions: cases where there is a discrepancy between the physical world and our experiences of it. In this paper, I critique some recent idealist treatments of illusions before presenting my own preferred account. I then argue that, initial impressions notwithstanding, it is actually the realist who has difficulties properly accounting for illusions.
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  2. added 2020-02-29
    We Can't Know.Markus Lammenranta - 2020 - In Steven Cowan (ed.), Problems in Epistemology and Metaphysics : An Introduction to Contemporary Debates. London: Bloomsbury Academic. pp. 38-51.
    The paper defends Cartesian skepticism by an argument relying on internalism and infallibilism. It argues that this sort of skepticism gives the best explanation of our intuitions and ordinary epistemic practices.
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  3. added 2020-02-11
    Putting Skeptics in Their Place: The Nature of Skeptical Arguments and Their Role in Philosophical Inquiry.Jonathan Vogel - 2004 - Mind 113 (451):552-555.
  4. added 2020-01-31
    Wenn ich mich nicht irre. Ein Versuch über die menschliche Fehlbarkeit.Geert Keil - 2019 - Stuttgart: Reclam.
    Jeder Mensch irrt – ausgenommen der Papst, wenn er Glaubenssätze verkündet. So jedenfalls befand einst das erste Vatikanische Konzil. Nun waren die Kardinäle, so bemerkt Keil frech, selbst keineswegs Träger der päpstlichen Unfehlbarkeit. »Woher wussten sie dann, dass der Papst unfehlbar ist?« Niemand weiß vorher, wann und wo er sich irren wird. Viele Philosophen haben daraus geschlossen, dass Menschen nichts wissen, sondern immer nur vermuten. Das ist aber ein Irrtum, den dieser kluge und kurzweilige Essay aufklärt.
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  5. added 2019-12-14
    Review of Janet Broughton, Descartes's Method of Doubt. [REVIEW]Peter Murphy - 2005 - Essays in Philosophy 10 (1):8.
    The book has two parts. The first looks at the destructive use to which Descartes puts the method of doubt. But this is just half the story since, according to Broughton, Descartes also uses the method of doubt constructively. The second part of the book takes up the constructive use. Both uses fit into an overarching claim that is set out in the introduction. According to this claim, Descartes employs the method of doubt in order to establish fundamental metaphysical claims (...)
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  6. added 2019-11-20
    Questions, Topics and Restricted Closure.Peter Hawke - 2016 - Philosophical Studies 173 (10):2759-2784.
    Single-premise epistemic closure is the principle that: if one is in an evidential position to know that P where P entails Q, then one is in an evidential position to know that Q. In this paper, I defend the viability of opposition to closure. A key task for such an opponent is to precisely formulate a restricted closure principle that remains true to the motivations for abandoning unrestricted closure but does not endorse particularly egregious instances of closure violation. I focus (...)
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  7. added 2019-11-08
    Commentary on "Non-Cartesian Frameworks&Quot.James Phillips - 1996 - Philosophy, Psychiatry, and Psychology 3 (3):187-189.
  8. added 2019-10-25
    My Ordinary Anti-Sceptical Beliefs Are Not Insensitive.Changsheng Lai - 2019 - Frontiers of Philosophy in China 14 (3):469-489.
    An orthodox sceptical hypothesis claims that one’s belief that “I am not a brain-in-a-vat (BIV)” (or any other ordinary anti-sceptical belief) is insensitive. A form of sensitivity-based scepticism, can thus be constructed by combining this orthodox hypothesis with the sensitivity principle and the closure principle. Unlike traditional solutions to the sensitivity-based sceptical problem, this paper will propose a new solution—one which does not reject either closure or sensitivity. Instead, I argue that sceptics’ assumption that one’s ordinary anti-sceptical beliefs are insensitive (...)
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  9. added 2019-10-25
    The Self-Hollowing Problem of the Radical Sceptical Paradox.Changsheng Lai - 2018 - Erkenntnis:1-20.
    The purpose of this paper is to provide a new solution to the radical sceptical paradox. A sceptical paradox purports to indicate the inconsistency within our fundamental epistemological commitments that are all seemingly plausible. Typically, sceptics employ an intuitively appealing epistemic principle to derive the sceptical conclusion. This paper will reveal a dilemma intrinsic to the sceptical paradox, which I refer to as the self-hollowing problem of radical scepticism. That is, on the one hand, if the sceptical conclusion turns out (...)
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  10. added 2019-09-24
    Historical Dictionary of Descartes and Cartesian Philosophy. [REVIEW]Kristopher G. Phillips - 2017 - British Journal for the History of Philosophy 25 (1):209-211.
    A review of the Historical Dictionary as a research resource.
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  11. added 2019-06-06
    XII—Is There a Problem of Other Minds?Anil Gomes - 2011 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 111 (3pt3):353-373.
    Scepticism is sometimes expressed about whether there is any interesting problem of other minds. In this paper I set out a version of the conceptual problem of other minds which turns on the way in which mental occurrences are presented to the subject and situate it in relation to debates about our knowledge of other people's mental lives. The result is a distinctive problem in the philosophy of mind concerning our relation to other people.
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  12. added 2019-06-06
    The Skeptical Deal with our Concept of External Reality.Cláudio Costa - 2009 - Abstracta 5 (1):43-76.
    The following paper contains a new refutation of the skeptical argument concerning our knowledge of the external world. The central idea is that the argument fails because it presupposes ambiguous attributions of reality. Once these ambiguities are identified, they make the argument either trivial or equivocal. Differently from others, this refutation does not lead us to undesired results.
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  13. added 2019-06-06
    Explaining Perceptual Knowledge: Reply to Quassim Cassam.Barry Stroud - 2009 - European Journal of Philosophy 17 (4):590-596.
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  14. added 2019-06-06
    Descartes, Madness and Method: A Reply to Ablondi.David Scott - 2009 - International Philosophical Quarterly 49 (2):153-171.
    This paper replies to Fred Ablondi’s discussion of Descartes’s treatment of madness in the Meditations. Against Ablondi’s interpretation that Descartes never seriously takes on board the skeptical hypothesis that he might be mad, because to do so would be for him to undermine the logical thought processes required to realize his agenda in the Meditations, I contend that Descartes does employ madness as a skeptical device, by assimilating its skeptical essentials into the dream argument. I maintain that while Descartes does (...)
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  15. added 2019-06-06
    Kant's Criticism of Descartes in the “Reflexionen Zum Idealismus”.Luigi Caranti - 2006 - Kant-Studien 97 (3):318-342.
    Kant devotes to the problem of Cartesian skepticism a constant attention throughout his philosophical career. His first attempt to refute the skeptic goes back to the 1755 Nova Delucidatio, while other arguments, both in the pre-critical and in the critical period, follow one another in a rather erratic effort to remove the “scandal” of philosophy, that is, our inability to prove the existence of the external world beyond doubt. This on-going struggle against the skeptic does not end with the 1787 (...)
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  16. added 2019-06-06
    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.
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  17. added 2019-06-06
    Rocking the Foundations of Cartesian Knowledge: Critical Notice of Janet Broughton, Descartes’s Method of Doubt.Lex Newman - 2004 - Philosophical Review 113 (1):101-125.
    Janet Broughton’s Descartes’s Method of Doubt1 is a systematic study of the role of doubt in Descartes’s epistemology. The book has two parts. Part 1 focuses on the development of doubt in the First Meditation, exploring such topics as the motivation behind methodic doubt; the targeted audience; the method’s game-like character (on her view); its relations to ancient skepticism, its reasonableness; the method’s presuppositions relative to commonsense belief; Michael Williams’s recent criticisms of Descartes; and more. Part 2 focuses on how (...)
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  18. added 2019-06-06
    Anti-Cartesian Epistemology: Davidson’s Naturalism.Deborah Hansen Soles - 2003 - Southwest Philosophy Review 19 (1):1-22.
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  19. added 2019-06-06
    An Exorcism of an Evil Demon of Skepticism.Claude Gratton - 1998 - Critica 30 (90):77-87.
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  20. added 2019-06-06
    Skepticism and Closure: Why the Evil Genius Argument Fails.Peter Klein - 1995 - Philosophical Topics 23 (1):213-236.
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  21. added 2019-06-06
    Skepticism and Subjectivity: Two Critiques of Traditional Epistemology Reconsidered.José Luis Bermúdez - 1995 - International Philosophical Quarterly 35 (2):141-158.
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  22. added 2019-06-06
    Skepticism and Epistemic Closure.Anthony L. Brueckner - 1985 - Philosophical Topics 13 (3):89-117.
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  23. added 2019-06-06
    E. M. Curley, "Descartes Against the Skeptics". [REVIEW]Richard A. Watson - 1980 - Journal of the History of Philosophy 18 (2):228.
  24. added 2019-06-06
    Descartes, the Sceptics, and the Rejection of Vitalism in Seventeenth-Century Physiology.Phillip R. Sloan - 1977 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 8 (1):1.
  25. added 2019-06-06
    Our Knowledge of the External World.Bertrand Russell - 1929 - Routledge.
    _'Philosophy, from the earliest times, has made greater claims, and acheived fewer results than any other branch of learning... I believe that the time has now arrived when this unsatisfactory state of affairs can be brought to an end'_ - _Bertrand Russell_ So begins _Our Knowledge of the Eternal World_, Bertrand Russell's classic attempt to show by means of examples, the nature, capacity and limitations of the logico-analytical method in philosophy.
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  26. added 2019-06-05
    Duncan Pritchard’s Epistemic Angst.John Greco - 2018 - International Journal for the Study of Skepticism 8 (1):51-61.
    _ Source: _Volume 8, Issue 1, pp 51 - 61 _Epistemic Angst: Radical Skepticism and the Groundlessness of our Believing_. By Duncan Pritchard. Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press, 2016. Pp. xv + 239. ISBN 978-0-691-16723-7.
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  27. added 2019-06-05
    Shattering a Cartesian Sceptical Dream.Stephen Hetherington - 2004 - Principia: An International Journal of Epistemology 8 (1):103-117.
    Scepticism about external world knowledge is frequently claimed to emerge from Descartes’s dreaming argument. That argument supposedly challenges one to have some further knowledge — the knowledge that one is not dreaming that p — if one is to have even one given piece of external world knowledge that p. The possession of that further knowledge can seem espe-cially important when the dreaming possibility is genuinely Cartesian. But this paper shows why that Cartesian use of that possi-bility is not at (...)
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  28. added 2019-06-05
    Doubt Undogmatized.Duncan Pritchard - 2000 - Principia: An International Journal of Epistemology 4 (2):187-214.
    It has become almost a conventional wisdom to argue that Cartesian scepticism poses a far more radical sceptical threat than its classical Pyrrhonian counterpart. Such a view fails to recognise, however, that there is a species of sceptical concern that can only plausibly be regarded as captured by the Pyrrhonian strategy. For whereas Cartesian scepticism is closely tied to the contentious doctrine of epistemological internalism, it is far from obvious that Pyrrhonian scepticism bears any such theoretical commitments. It is argued (...)
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  29. added 2019-06-05
    Review of Harald Delius, Self-Awareness: A Semantical Inquiry. [REVIEW]Barry Smith - 1985 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 46:170-173.
    The thesis of Delius's book is that statements of self-awareness such as "I am aware that I see a cat" possess what he calls 'Cartesian characteristics' of indubitability or absolute self-evidence. He argues that this is the case in virtue of the fact that such statements are not about anything independent of themselves. The book is described as a 'semantical inquiry', but it is not by any means a contribution to the philosophy of language of the predictable sort. Statements of (...)
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  30. added 2019-05-03
    The External World and the Self.Laurence J. Rosán - 1953 - Review of Metaphysics 6 (4):539 - 550.
    Speculations of this last type have existed from a much earlier period in the Eastern civilizations, particularly in those areas affected by Hindu philosophy. For example, in the Sánkhya or Yoga-Sútras by Patánjali, we find a very radical distinction between the external world and the individual soul or self. But for Sánkhya, the "external world" includes everything that could possibly be an object of consciousness--physical objects and their relationships, sensations and imaginations, dreams, memories, expectations, etc. In other words, for Sánkhya, (...)
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  31. added 2019-05-01
    Radical Scepticism and the Epistemology of Confusion.J. Adam Carter - 2019 - International Journal for the Study of Skepticism (3):1-15.
    The lack of knowledge—as Timothy Williamson (2000) famously maintains—is ignorance. Radical sceptical arguments, at least in the tradition of Descartes, threaten universal ignorance. They do so by attempting to establish that we lack any knowledge, even if we can retain other kinds of epistemic standings, like epistemically justified belief. If understanding is a species of knowledge, then radical sceptical arguments threaten to rob us categorically of knowledge and understanding in one fell swoop by implying universal ignorance. If, however, understanding is (...)
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  32. added 2019-03-24
    Formal Epistemology and Cartesian Skepticism: In Defense of Belief in the Natural World, Written by Tomoji Shogenji.Gerhard Schurz - 2019 - International Journal for the Study of Skepticism 9 (1):83-89.
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  33. added 2019-02-13
    The External World and Induction.Everett J. Nelson - 1942 - Philosophy of Science 9 (3):261-267.
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  34. added 2018-12-16
    Quatro Desafios Céticos ao Saber.Luis R. G. Oliveira - forthcoming - In Antonio José Pêcego (ed.), Direito e Filosofia: Em Busca do Saber. Uberlândia, State of Minas Gerais, Brazil:
    O ceticismo é por vezes descartado como uma doutrina absurda e merecedora do seu lugar distante na antiguidade. Nada poderia ser menos correto. O ceticismo continua extremamente relevante para o pensamento filosófico e científico de hoje, servindo como um lembrete de que a sabedoria não é barata nem segura. Nesse texto, o meu objetivo principal é reproduzir o raciocínio das discussões clássicas sobre o ceticismo, mas de uma maneira coloquial e contemporânea. Após seguir as linhas de pensamento de Sexto Empírico, (...)
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  35. added 2018-10-02
    Epistemological Reflection on Knowledge of the External World.Review author[S.]: Barry Stroud - 1996 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 56 (2):345-358.
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  36. added 2018-09-06
    Descartes and the Suspension of Judgment–Considerations of Cartesian Skepticism and Epoché.Jan Forsman - 2018 - In Konstantinos Boudouris (ed.), Proceedings of the XXIII World Congress of Philosophy. Greek Philosophical Society. pp. 15-20.
    In this paper I will argue how Descartes in the First and Second Meditation of the Meditations uses a very clear suspension of judgments or assent that in many ways resembles the epoché of the ancient skepticism, especially that of pyrrhonistic variant. First I show how the pyrrhonistic epoché works and what purpose it was used. After that I show how this Cartesian epoché both resembles and differs from the ancient epoché. My main argument is that Descartes, when using the (...)
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  37. added 2018-06-03
    A World Without a Past: New Challenges to Kant's Refutation of Idealism.Justin Remhof - 2018 - Southwest Philosophy Review 34 (1):171-180.
    In the Refutation of Idealism, Kant aims to defeat the Cartesian radical skeptical hypothesis that empirical reality might not exist and we cannot have knowledge of it. Kant intends to demonstrate that conscious experience presupposes direct experience of empirical reality. This paper presents new challenges to the conclusions Kant reaches in the Refutation. Kant’s argument turns on the claim that the past must exist, and my challenges concern the possibility that there is no past.
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  38. added 2018-06-03
    Epistemology and External World Skepticism.Roger Vasquez - 2008 - Questions: Philosophy for Young People 8:13-13.
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  39. added 2018-06-03
    Evaluational Illusions and Skeptical Arguments.Steven L. Reynolds - 1998 - Philosophical and Phenomenological Research 58 (3):529-558.
    A traditional diagnosis of the error in the Cartesian skeptical arguments holds that they exploit our tendencies to take a representationalist view of perception. Thinking that we perceive only our own sensory states, it seems to us that our perceptual beliefs about physical objects must be justified qua explanations of those sensory states. Such justification requires us to have reasons to reject rival explanations, such as the skeptical hypotheses, which we lack. However, those who adopt the direct realist view of (...)
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  40. added 2018-03-02
    Skepticism and Elegance.Kevin McCain - 2016 - International Journal for the Study of Skepticism 6 (1):30-43.
    _ Source: _Page Count 14 Jonathan Vogel has argued in support of an explanationist response to skepticism in several works. Central to this explanationist response is the fact that our non-skeptical view of the world is a better explanation of our experiences than its skeptical rivals. Despite the plausibility of this response to skepticism, it is not without its critics. Recently, Matthew Gifford has argued that Vogel’s response has problems on two fronts. First, Gifford argues that Vogel’s strategy for showing (...)
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  41. added 2018-03-02
    Chapter 2. Radical Skepticism and Underdetermination.Duncan Pritchard - 2016 - In Epistemic Angst: Radical Skepticism and the Groundlessness of Our Believing. Princeton University Press. pp. 29-60.
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  42. added 2018-03-02
    Skepticism and Elegance.Kevin McCain - 2016 - International Journal for the Study of Skepticism 6 (1):30-43.
    _ Source: _Page Count 14 Jonathan Vogel has argued in support of an explanationist response to skepticism in several works. Central to this explanationist response is the fact that our non-skeptical view of the world is a better explanation of our experiences than its skeptical rivals. Despite the plausibility of this response to skepticism, it is not without its critics. Recently, Matthew Gifford has argued that Vogel’s response has problems on two fronts. First, Gifford argues that Vogel’s strategy for showing (...)
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  43. added 2018-03-02
    Skepticism: The Central Issues.Charles Landesman - 2002 - Wiley-Blackwell.
    This book presents and analyzes the most important arguments in the history of Western philosophy's skeptical tradition. It demonstrates that, although powerful, these arguments are quite limited and fail to prove their core assertion that knowledge is beyond our reach. Argues that skepticism is mistaken and that knowledge is possible Dissects the problems of realism and the philosophical doubts about the accuracy of the senses Explores the ancient argument against a criterion of knowledge, Descartes' skeptical arguments, and skeptical arguments applied (...)
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  44. added 2018-03-02
    The Significance of Philosophical Scepticism.Richard Feldman - 1986 - Philosophical Review 95 (2):305.
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  45. added 2018-03-02
    Skepticism Without Indubitability.Margaret D. Wilson - 1984 - Journal of Philosophy 81 (10):537.
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  46. added 2018-03-02
    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. (...)
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  47. added 2018-03-02
    Sceptical Essays.Bertrand Russell - 1928 - Routledge.
    _'These propositions may seem mild, yet, if accepted, they would absolutely revolutionize human life.'_ With these words Bertrand Russell introduces what is indeed a revolutionary book. Taking as his starting-point the irrationality of the world, he offers by contrast something 'wildly paradoxical and subversive' - a belief that reason should determine human actions. Today, besieged as we are by the numbing onslaught of twenty-first-century capitalism, Russell's defence of scepticism and independence of mind is as timely as ever. In clear, engaging (...)
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  48. added 2018-02-18
    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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  49. added 2018-02-17
    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 (...)
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  50. added 2018-02-17
    Descartes: Belief, Scepticism and Virtue.Richard Davies - 1997 - Routledge.
    Descartes is often regarded as the founder of modern philosophy, and is credited with placing at centre stage the question of what we know and how we know it. Descartes: Belief, Scepticism and Virtue seeks to reinsert his work and thought in its contemporary ethical and theological context. Richard Davies explores the much neglected notion of intellectual virtue as it applies to Descartes' inquiry as a whole. He examines the textual dynamics of Descartes' most famous writings in relation to background (...)
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