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Summary Pyrrhonism is the most prominent and influential form of skepticism in the history of Western philosophy. It was an important philosophical movement in the Hellenistic and Imperial periods, had a tremendous impact on modern philosophy, and some of its arguments continue to be a central topic of discussion in the contemporary scene. This form of skepticism does not deny the possibility of knowledge or justified belief tout court or in a specific area, but recommends across-the-board suspension of judgment. This subcategory covers works that examine the philosophical aspects of ancient Pyrrhonism and/or discuss Pyrrhonian skepticism in relation to current epistemological discussions.
Key works Fogelin 1994 offers an “updated” version of Sextus Empiricus's Pyrrhonism so as to make it applicable to contemporary debates about justification. Sinnott-Armstrong 2004 is a Festschrift for Robert Fogelin. While some of the essays either compare his neo-Pyrrhonism with its ancient ancestor or refer to this interpretation of certain modern and contemporary philosophers, others critically examine his neo-Pyrrhonism as expounded in Fogelin 1994Sinnott-Armstrong 2006 defends a moderate moral skepticism, characterized as Pyrrhonian, that is based on the notion of "contrast class."
Introductions Machuca Diego 2011 Machuca 2011
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  1. added 2020-02-12
    Greek Skepticism: A Study in Epistemology.Michael Frede - 1973 - Journal of Philosophy 70 (21):805-810.
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  2. added 2020-02-08
    Sextus Empiricus and Pyrrhonean Scepticism.Jonathan Barnes - 2003 - Mind 112 (447):496-499.
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  3. added 2020-01-31
    Sextus Empiricus on the Siren Song of Reason and the Skeptical Defense of Ordinary Life.Harald Thorsrud - 2019 - Logos and Episteme 10 (1):15-29.
    By understanding the sense in which Sextus thinks reason is deceptive we may clarify his attitude towards ordinary life. The deception, like that of the Siren's song, is practical rather than epistemic. It is not a matter of leading us to assent to false or unjustified conclusions but is rather a distraction from, or even corruption of, ordinary life.
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  4. added 2019-06-14
    Pyrrhonian Reflections on Knowledge and Justification.Robert J. Fogelin - 1997 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 57 (2):395-400.
  5. added 2019-06-07
    Die Züge des Skeptikers. Der Dialektische Charakter von Sextus Empiricus' Werk. [REVIEW]Luca Castagnoli - 2007 - The Classical Review 57 (2):370-372.
  6. added 2019-06-06
    Belief and Truth: A Skeptic Reading of Plato, by Katja Maria Vogt.: Book Reviews. [REVIEW]Jan Willem Wieland - 2013 - Mind 122 (488):1204-1207.
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  7. added 2019-06-06
    Sextus, Montaigne, Hume: Exercises in Skeptical Cartography.Brian Ribeiro - 2009 - Modern Schoolman 86 (1):7-34.
    Despite their divergences, I argue that Sextus, Montaigne, and Hume are committed to several substantive points of commonality and that these commonalities justify us in speaking of them as belonging to a unitary Pyrrhonist tradition. In this tradition, Pyrrhonizing doubt serves to chart the boundary of that-which-resists-doubt, thereby simultaneously charting the shape of that complex of nature and custom which constitutes the bedrock of human life — the life that remains after doubt has done its worst.
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  8. added 2019-06-06
    Skepticism in Nietzsche’s Earliest Work: Another Look at Nietzsche’s “On Truth and Lies in an Extra-Moral Sense”.Jessica N. Berry - 2006 - International Studies in Philosophy 38 (3):33-48.
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  9. added 2019-06-06
    The Pyrrhonian Skeptic’s Telos.Dan Moller - 2004 - Ancient Philosophy 24 (2):425-441.
    Early on in the Outlines of Pyrrhonism (PH), Sextus Empiricus offers an account of τὸ τέλος τῆς σκεπτικῆς—the aim or final end of Pyrrhonian skepticism. Having previously explained such crucial aspects of Pyrrhonism as the sense in which Skeptics do not hold any beliefs and what its constitutive principles are, in sections I 25-30 Sextus turns to what he seems to regard as the equally important matter of what the aim of Skepticism is. He tells us, An aim [τέλος] is (...)
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  10. added 2019-06-06
    Greek Scepticism: Anti-Realist Trends in Ancient Thought. [REVIEW]Jonathan Barnes - 1991 - The Classical Review 41 (2):500-501.
  11. added 2019-06-06
    The Toils of Scepticism.Greek Scepticism: Anti-Realist Trends in Ancient Thought.Jonathan Barnes & Leo Groarke - 1991 - Philosophical Quarterly 41 (165):512-513.
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  12. added 2019-06-06
    The High Road to Pyrrhonism. [REVIEW]B. H. G. - 1980 - Review of Metaphysics 34 (2):396-398.
    In his preface to The High Road to Pyrrhonism, Popkin tells us his book is a "partial fulfillment" of the promise he made in his earlier History of Scepticism to extend into the eighteenth century his investigation of his intent "to show how historical research can illuminate certain major issues in philosophy and the ideas of certain major thinkers." Anyone familiar with The History of Scepticism must surely have been impressed with the scholarly care that went into its writing. We (...)
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  13. added 2019-06-06
    The Problem of the Criterion. [REVIEW]D. J. - 1973 - Review of Metaphysics 27 (2):377-377.
    A major epistemological puzzle is that of the "diallelus," namely, how does one decide when one genuinely possesses knowledge of whatever. This problem vexed many Louvain philosophers at the turn of the century, and Chisholm attempts to effect a tentative solution to the problem by expanding upon some insights contained in Mercier’s Critériologie générale ou théorie générale de la certitude.
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  14. added 2019-06-06
    Patrick's Sextus Empiricus. [REVIEW]R. D. Hicks - 1900 - The Classical Review 14 (3):166-168.
  15. 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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  16. added 2019-05-23
    Scepticisme, apraxia et rationalité.Diego E. Machuca - 2019 - In Diego E. Machuca & Stéphane Marchand (eds.), Les raisons du doute: études sur le scepticisme antique. Paris: Classiques Garnier. pp. 53-87.
    La présente étude a deux objectifs. Le premier est d’examiner les différentes formulations de l’objection de l’ἀπραξία telle qu’elle fut soulevée contre le scepticisme académicien et le pyrrhonisme, ainsi que les réponses à cette objection proposées par Arcésilas et Sextus Empiricus. Le second objectif consiste à évaluer la force de la version de l’objection de l’ἀπραξία selon laquelle le sceptique ne peut réaliser les actions rationnelles propres à l’être humain.
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  17. added 2019-04-29
    Sextus on Ataraxia Revisited.Diego E. Machuca - forthcoming - Ancient Philosophy.
    My purpose in this article is to revisit an issue concerning the state of undisturbedness or tranquility (ἀταραξία) in ancient Pyrrhonism as this skeptical stance is depicted in Sextus Empiricus’s extant works. The issue in question is whether both the pursuit and the attainment of undisturbedness in matters of opinion should be regarded as defining features of Pyrrhonism not merely from a systematic standpoint that examines Pyrrhonism as a kind of philosophy, but mainly according to Sextus’s own account of that (...)
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  18. added 2019-04-29
    Les raisons du doute: études sur le scepticisme antique.Diego E. Machuca & Stéphane Marchand (eds.) - 2019 - Paris: Classiques Garnier.
    Le scepticisme est une véritable constante de l’histoire de la philosophie depuis l’Antiquité. En se nourrissant des désaccords philosophiques, il ne cesse de se transformer pour mieux remettre en cause les certitudes du dogmatisme. Ce volume présente des contributions en langue française de spécialistes de la pensée sceptique dans l’antiquité, domaine qui s’est considérablement développé ces dernières années. Les études ici présentées portent aussi bien sur le pyrrhonisme que sur la nouvelle Académie ou l’empirisme médical ; elles utilisent une variété (...)
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  19. added 2019-03-27
    Does Pyrrhonism Have Practical or Epistemic Value?Diego E. Machuca - 2019 - In Giuseppe Veltri, Racheli Haliva, Stephan Franz Schmid & Emidio Spinelli (eds.), Sceptical Paths: Enquiry and Doubt from Antiquity to the Present. Berlin, Germany: Walter de Gruyter. pp. 43-66.
    My purpose in this paper is to examine whether Pyrrhonian skepticism, as this stance is described in Sextus Empiricus’s extant works, has practical or epistemic value. More precisely, I would like to consider whether the Pyrrhonist’s suspension of judgment (ἐποχή) and undisturbedness (ἀταραξία) can be deemed to be of practical or epistemic value. By ‘practical’ value I mean both moral value and prudential value. Moral value refers to moral rightness and wrongness; prudential value to the value of well-being, personal or (...)
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  20. added 2019-03-16
    Sources of Doxastic Disturbance in Sextus Empiricus.Diego E. Machuca - 2019 - Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy 56:193–214.
    In his account of Pyrrhonism, Sextus Empiricus talks about the disturbance concerning matters of opinion that afflicts his dogmatic rivals and that he himself was afflicted by before his conversion to Pyrrhonism. The aim of the present paper is to identify the distinct sources of doxastic disturbance that can be found in that account, and to determine whether and, if so, how they are related. The thesis to be defended is that it is possible to discern three sources of doxastic (...)
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  21. added 2019-02-19
    Neo-Pyrrhonism.Markus Lammenranta - 2018 - In Diego E. Machuca & Baron Reed (eds.), Skepticism: From Antiquity to the Present. London: Bloomsbury Academic. pp. 565-580.
    Fogelin’s neo-Pyrrhonism is skepticism about epistemology and philosophy more generally. Philosophical reflection on ordinary epistemic practices leads us to deny the possibility of knowledge and justified belief. However, instead of accepting the dogma that knowledge and justified beliefs are impossible, a neo-Pyrrhonist rejects the philosophical premises that lead to this conclusion. Fogelin argues in particular that contemporary theories of justification cannot avoid dogmatic skepticism, because they are committed to the premises of the skeptical argument deriving from the modes of Agrippa. (...)
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  22. added 2019-02-19
    Epoché as the Erotic Conversion of One Into Two.Rachel Aumiller - 2017 - In Giuseppe Veltri (ed.), Yearbook of the Maimonides Centre for Advanced Studies. Berlin, Germany: pp. 3-13.
    This essay interprets the epoché of ancient scepticism as the perpetual conversion of the love of one into the love of two. The process of one becoming two is represented in Plato’s Symposium by Diotima’s description of the second rung of ‘the ladder,’ by which one ascends to the highest form of philosophical devotion (Pl. Sym. 209e-210e). Diotima’s ladder offers a vision of philosophy as a total conversion of both the lover and the object of love (or philosopher and object (...)
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  23. added 2019-02-19
    Skepticism and Disagreement.Markus Lammenranta - 2011 - In Diego E. Machuca (ed.), Pyrrhonism in Ancient, Modern, and Contemporary Philosophy. Dordrecht: Springer. pp. 203-216.
    Though ancient Pyrrhonian skepticism is apparently based on disagreement, this aspect of skepticism has been widely neglected in contemporary discussion on skepticism. The paper provides a rational reconstruction of the skeptical argument from disagreement that can be found in the books of Sextus Empiricus. It is argued that this argument forms a genuine skeptical paradox that has no fully satisfactory resolution. All attempts to resolve it make knowledge or justified belief either intuitively too easy or impossible.
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  24. 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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  25. added 2018-11-20
    Hjumovo shvatanje odnosa između skepticizma i filozofije.Aleksandra Davidović - 2018 - Theoria: Beograd 61 (3):93-118.
    U ovom radu istražujem kako su se Hjumova gledišta o odnosu između skepticizma i filozofije razvijala i kako su sazrevala tokom njegovog filozofskog rada. Hjumovo prvo delo, Rasprava o ljudskoj prirodi, ostavlja otvoreno pitanje zašto bi se iko bavio filozofijom u svetlu otkrića da su skeptički argumenti neoborivi. Cilj mi je da pokažem da, iako se Hjumov stav o skepticizmu i njegova skeptička pozicija nisu suštinski menjali tokom godina, Istraživanje o ljudskom razumu i Dijalozi o prirodnoj religiji, kao i nekoliko (...)
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  26. added 2018-10-12
    Life Without Belief: A Madhyamaka Defense of the Livability of Pyrrhonism.Robin Brons - 2018 - Philosophy East and West 68 (2):329-351.
    Despite the striking similarities between Pyrrhonian skepticism and Madhyamaka Buddhism, few lessons have been drawn from the parallels between the two traditions. Here, it is argued that Madhyamaka Buddhism verifies the livability of Pyrrhonian skepticism. After establishing that Pyrrhonism and Madhyamaka can be understood as undertaking the same project, it is shown that Madhyamaka philosophy is able to refute objections to the viability of Pyrrhonism. Finally, it is demonstrated that Madhyamaka is still a lived practice in Tibetan Buddhism, and it (...)
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  27. 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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  28. added 2018-08-13
    Pyrrhonian Argumentation: Therapy, Dialectic, and Inquiry.Diego E. Machuca - 2019 - Apeiron 52 (2):199-221.
    The Pyrrhonist’s argumentative practice is characterized by at least four features. First, he makes a therapeutic use of arguments: he employs arguments that differ in their persuasiveness in order to cure his dogmatic patients of the distinct degrees of conceit and rashness that afflict them. Secondly, his arguments are for the most part dialectical: when offering an argument to oppose it to another argument advanced by a given dogmatist, he accepts in propria persona neither the truth of its premises and (...)
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  29. added 2018-07-15
    Epistemology in Latin America.Diego E. Machuca - 2018 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
    After presenting the current situation of epistemological research in Latin America and part of its history, this entry will address five topics: skepticism (especially in its Pyrrhonian stripe), core epistemology, formal epistemology, Wittgenstein’s thought in connection with epistemology and skepticism, and epistemology of law. It should be noted from the outset that the entry does not purport to provide a comprehensive account of epistemology in Latin America, but rather to paint a general picture of it by focusing on the main (...)
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  30. added 2018-06-27
    Virtue-Theoretic Responses to Skepticism.Guy Axtell - 2008 - In John Greco (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Skepticism. Oxford University Press.
    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 (...)
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  31. added 2018-06-05
    Book Review: The Possibility of Philosophical Understanding: Reflections on the Thought of Barry Stroud, Edited by Jason Bridges, Niko Kolodny, and Wai-Hung Wong. [REVIEW]Mikael Janvid - 2014 - International Journal for the Study of Skepticism 4 (2):145-151.
  32. added 2018-06-03
    22 Skepticism and the Possibility of Knowledge Barry Stroud.Barry Stroud - 1998 - In Alcoff Linda (ed.), Epistemology: The Big Questions. Blackwell. pp. 360.
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  33. added 2018-06-03
    Skepticism and the Possibility of Knowledge.Barry Stroud - 1984 - Journal of Philosophy 81 (10):545.
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  34. added 2018-03-08
    Scylla and Charybdis of the Epistemic Relativist: Why the Epistemic Relativist Still Cannot Use the Sceptic’s Strategy.Markus Seidel - 2013 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 44 (1):145-149.
    In a reply to Howard Sankey I have maintained that the epistemic relativist cannot use the strategy of the sceptic since the relativist is at pains not to draw the sceptical solution. Sankey has objected to my argument by distinguishing between weak and strong justification: according to Sankey, the relativist using the sceptic’s strategy aims to provide an argument against the latter form of justification but still maintains that we can have the former.In this counter-response I argue that if this (...)
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  35. added 2018-03-08
    Why the Epistemic Relativist Cannot Use the Sceptic’s Strategy. A Comment on Sankey.Markus Seidel - 2013 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 44 (1):134-139.
    In two recent papers in Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Howard Sankey has argued that there is an intimate relationship between Pyrrhonian skepticism and recent approaches to epistemic relativism.Though the general argument and idea of Sankey’s papers is very much appreciated, it is argued that the epistemic relativist’s recourse to the skeptical strategy outlined by the Pyrrhonian is not a good one. This diagnosis gives rise to an objection against the epistemic relativist who argues on the basis of (...)
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  36. 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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  37. added 2018-03-02
    Scepticism.Arne Naess - 1969 - Routledge.
    Originally published in 1968. Scepticism is generally regarded as a position which, if correct, would be disastrous for our everyday and scientific beliefs. According to this view, a sceptical argument is one that leads to the intuitively false conclusion that we cannot know anything. But there is another, much neglected and more radical form of scepticism, Pyrrhonism, which neither denies nor accepts the possibility of knowledge and is to be regarded not as a philosophical position so much as the expression (...)
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  38. added 2018-03-02
    Scepticism.Arne Naess - 1969 - Routledge.
    Originally published in 1968. Scepticism is generally regarded as a position which, if correct, would be disastrous for our everyday and scientific beliefs. According to this view, a sceptical argument is one that leads to the intuitively false conclusion that we cannot know anything. But there is another, much neglected and more radical form of scepticism, Pyrrhonism, which neither denies nor accepts the possibility of knowledge and is to be regarded not as a philosophical position so much as the expression (...)
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  39. added 2018-02-27
    Moral Skepticism, Fictionalism, and Insulation.Diego E. Machuca - 2018 - In Diego E. Machuca (ed.), Moral Skepticism: New Essays. New York: Routledge. pp. 213-234.
    It has been claimed that a key difference between ancient and contemporary skepticism is that, unlike the ancient skeptics, contemporary skeptics consider ordinary beliefs to be insulated from skeptical doubt. In the case of metaethics, this issue is related to the following question: what attitude towards ordinary moral thought and discourse should one adopt if one is a moral skeptic? Whereas moral abolitionists claim that one should do away with ordinary moral thought and discourse altogether, moral fictionalists maintain that, given (...)
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  40. added 2018-02-17
    30. There is No Good Reason to Be an Academic Skeptic.Peter D. Klein - 2003 - In Steven Luper (ed.), Essential Knowledge: Readings in Epistemology. Longman. pp. 299.
  41. added 2018-02-17
    The Problem of the Criterion.G. J. Mattey - 1997 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 57 (1):226-229.
    This book offers the first historical treatment and analytic analysis of the problem of the criterion. It provides analyses of the ancient and modern characterizations of the problem and a resolution of each. My purpose is to show that there are at least two versions of the problem, one posed by a Pyrrhonian sceptic and one by a dogmatic sceptic. I show that both versions have a dissolution. Then, by examining the presuppositions of the dogmatic sceptic, I demonstrate that the (...)
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  42. added 2017-11-07
    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 (...)
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  43. added 2017-11-07
    The Problem of the Criterion, Skepticism, and the Cartesian Circle.Timo Kajamies - 2006 - SATS 7 (2).
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  44. added 2017-11-07
    Scepticism and Epistemic Kinds.John Greco - 2000 - Philosophical Issues 10 (1):366-376.
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  45. added 2017-11-07
    Taking Skepticism Seriously.Robert J. Fogelin - 1984 - Journal of Philosophy 81 (10):552.
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  46. added 2017-05-31
    Kontekstualistinen vastaus Agrippan argumentille.Jani Hakkarainen - 2009 - In Ahti Pietarinen, Sami Pihlström & Pilvi Toppinen (eds.), Usko. Tampere: Juvenes Print. pp. 93-98.
    Title in English: : A Contextualist Answer to Agrippa's Argument.
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  47. added 2017-05-31
    Scepticism as Epochê.Jani Hakkarainen - 2004 - In Kaisa Luoma, Erna Oesch & Risto Vilkko (eds.), Philosophical Studies in honorem Leila Haaparanta. Tampere: Tampereen yliopistopaino. pp. 233-242.
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  48. added 2017-05-31
    Humen pyrrhonismin kielto.Jani Hakkarainen - 2004 - In Heta Gylling, S. Albert Kivinen & Risto Vilkko (eds.), Kielto. Helsinki: Helsinki University Press. pp. 29-35.
    Title in English: Hume's Denial of Pyrrhonism.
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  49. added 2017-05-29
    Pick Your Poison: Beg the Question or Embrace Circularity.Kevin Mccain & William Rowley - 2013 - International Journal for the Study of Skepticism 3 (4).
    According to Roderick Chisholm, there are three ways of responding to the Problem of the Criterion and they all leave something to be desired. Michael DePaul, Paul Moser, and Earl Conee have each proposed variations of a fourth way of responding to this problem that rely on reflective equilibrium. We argue that these four options for responding to the Problem of the Criterion leave one with a tough choice: accept one of the three that Chisholm describes or DePaul’s reflective equilibrium (...)
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  50. added 2017-05-29
    Roderick M. Chisolm, "The Problem of the Criterion". [REVIEW]Anthony J. Lisska - 1974 - The Thomist 38 (4):988.
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1 — 50 / 287