Replies to Skepticism

Edited by Everett Fulmer (Loyola University, New Orleans)
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  1. The Truth Fairy and the Indirect Epistemic Consequentialist.Daniel Y. Elstein & C. S. I. Jenkins - 2020 - In Peter J. Graham & Nikolaj J. L. L. Pedersen (eds.), Epistemic Entitlement. Oxford, UK: pp. 344-360.
    Friends of Wright-entitlement cannot appeal to direct epistemic consequentialism (believe or accept what maximizes expected epistemic value) in order to account for the epistemic rationality of accepting Wright-entitled propositions. The tenability of direct consequentialism is undermined by the “Truth Fairy”: a powerful being who offers you great epistemic reward (in terms of true beliefs) if you accept a proposition p for which you have evidence neither for nor against. However, this chapter argues that a form of indirect epistemic consequentialism seems (...)
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  2. Justification As A Loaded Notion.Yuval Avnur - forthcoming - Synthese 1:1-20.
    The problem of skepticism is often understood as a paradox: a valid argument with plausible premises whose conclusion is that we lack justification for perceptual beliefs. Typically, this conclusion is deemed unacceptable, so a theory is offered that posits conditions for justification on which some premise is false. The theory defended here is more general, and explains why the paradox arises in the first place. Like Strawson’s (Introduction to logical theory, Wiley, New York, 1952) “ordinary language” approach to induction, the (...)
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  3. 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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  4. Augustine's Defence of Knowledge Against the Sceptics.Tamer Nawar - 2019 - Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy 56:215-265.
    In his Contra Academicos, Augustine offers one of the most detailed responses to scepticism to have come down to us from antiquity. In this paper, I examine Augustine’s defence of the existence of infallible knowledge in Contra Academicos 3. I challenge a number of established views (including those of Myles Burnyeat, Gareth Matthews, and Christopher Kirwan) concerning the nature and merit of Augustine’s defence of knowledge and propose a new understanding of Augustine’s response to scepticism (including his semantic response to (...)
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  5. The Power of Appearances.Nenad Popovic - 2019 - International Journal for the Study of Skepticism 9 (1):51-64.
    _ Source: _Page Count 14 One common problem with anti-skepticism and skepticism alike is their failure to account for our sometimes conflicting epistemic intuitions. In order to address this problem and provide a new direction for solving the skeptical puzzle, I consider a modified version of the puzzle that is based on knowledge claims about appearances and does not result in a paradox. I conclude that combining the elements of both the original and modified puzzle can potentially guide us towards (...)
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  6. Disjuntivismo epistemológico e ceticismo radical.Breno Ricardo Guimarães Santos - 2017 - Veritas – Revista de Filosofia da Pucrs 62 (3):624-656.
    Epistemological disjunctivism is a philosophical theory that has received special attention in the recent years. Particularly because it has been seen by many as a way of renewing discussions that range from the nature of justification of our daily beliefs to the possibility of unveiling the structure of the problem of radical skepticism and of responding to it. Duncan Pritchard is one of the authors who have offered a particular view of disjunctivism and ways of conceiving of disjunctivist treatments to (...)
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  7. 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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  8. The Power of Appearances.Nenad Popovic - forthcoming - Brill.
    _ Source: _Page Count 14 One common problem with anti-skepticism and skepticism alike is their failure to account for our sometimes conflicting epistemic intuitions. In order to address this problem and provide a new direction for solving the skeptical puzzle, I consider a modified version of the puzzle that is based on knowledge claims about appearances and does not result in a paradox. I conclude that combining the elements of both the original and modified puzzle can potentially guide us towards (...)
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  9. What Do Philosophers Do? Skepticism and the Practice of Philosophy.Xingming Hu - 2018 - Philosophical Quarterly 68 (273):862-864.
    What do Philosophers do? Skepticism and the Practice of Philosophy. By Maddy Penelope.
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  10. The Problem of Descartes's First Meditation and its Solution.Charles Raff - manuscript
    Descartes’s First Meditation imposes a pressing, currently neglected problem of reconciling its sound central argument that concludes that all the meditator’s current and currently prospective results are doubtful with subsequent Meditations’ results that are not at all doubtful. The problem cannot be addressed by received interpretations that fail to credit the First Meditation with a sound extended central argument; it cannot be solved by interpretations reliant on standard translations that obscure the Second Meditation’s opening argument. This study credits the First (...)
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  11. Scepticism and the Self-Hollowing Problem: A Dichotomous Solution to Sceptical Paradox.Changsheng Lai - 2016 - Dissertation,
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  12. Groundless Belief: An Essay on the Possibility of Knowledge.Paul Horwich - 1982 - Noûs 16 (2):312-316.
  13. Alston’s Practical Rationality Argument.Michael B. Wakoff - 1999 - Journal of Philosophical Research 24:247-284.
    William AIston has argued that the prospects are dim for demonstrating with out epistemic circularity that any of our fundamental doxastic practices are reliable. In response to this predicament, he supplies a pragmatic rationale for our continued engagement in these practices. I argue that either he relativizes the practical rationality of engaging in a doxastic practice to participants, which ill suits his aim of providing a realist account of the practice that provides nonparticipants with are as on to trust that (...)
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  14. Knowledge Under Threat.Tomas Bogardus - 2014 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 88 (2):289-313.
    Many contemporary epistemologists hold that a subject S’s true belief that p counts as knowledge only if S’s belief that p is also, in some important sense, safe. I describe accounts of this safety condition from John Hawthorne, Duncan Pritchard, and Ernest Sosa. There have been three counterexamples to safety proposed in the recent literature, from Comesaña, Neta and Rohrbaugh, and Kelp. I explain why all three proposals fail: each moves fallaciously from the fact that S was at epistemic risk (...)
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  15. Level-Confusions in Epistemology.William P. Alston - 1980 - Midwest Studies in Philosophy 5 (1):135-150.
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Abductive Replies to Skepticism
  1. Does Skepticism Presuppose Explanationism?James R. Beebe - 2017 - In Kevin McCain & Ted Poston (eds.), Best Explanations: New Essays on Inference to the Best Explanation. Oxford University Press. pp. 173-187.
    A common response to radical skeptical challenges to our knowledge of the external world has been that there are explanatory reasons (e.g., simplicity, coherence, explanatory power, conservatism) for favoring commonsense explanations of our sensory experiences over skeptical explanations. Despite the degree of visibility this class of response has enjoyed, it has often been viewed with skepticism [sic] by the epistemological community because of concerns about the epistemic merits of explanatory reasoning. I argue that skeptical challenges that employ skeptical hypotheses presuppose (...)
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  2. Naturalness as a Constraint on Priors.Darren Bradley - 2020 - Mind 129 (513):179-203.
    Many epistemological problems can be solved by the objective Bayesian view that there are rationality constraints on priors, that is, inductive probabilities. But attempts to work out these constraints have run into such serious problems that many have rejected objective Bayesianism altogether. I argue that the epistemologist should borrow the metaphysician’s concept of naturalness and assign higher priors to more natural hypotheses.
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  3. Appearance and Explanation: A Defense of Phenomenal Explanationism (Monograph, in Progress).Kevin McCain & Luca Moretti - manuscript
    Phenomenal Conservatism (PC) is a promising, and popular, internalist theory of epistemic justification. Despite its popularity it faces numerous objections and challenges. In Seemings and Epistemic Justification (Springer, 2020), Moretti suggests that integrating PC with a theory of reflective/inferential justification would have the potential to shield PC from various challenges. Moretti also suggests that this sort of integration is worth exploring because it may allow PC to provide a more forceful response to skepticism and better account for ordinary cognitive practices. (...)
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  4. Skepticism and the Foundations of Empirical Justification.Ali Hasan - 2008 - Dissertation, University of Washington
    A central project of traditional epistemology is to address skeptical questions and concerns regarding the rationality or epistemic justification of our empirical beliefs, especially beliefs regarding the external world, with the aim of understanding what makes it possible for such beliefs to have or lack justification, and of determining how much justification we have. A prominent anti-skeptical view in the history of epistemology, a view I shall call classical foundationalism, can be distinguished from other more contemporary versions of foundationalism in (...)
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  5. Kevin McCain and Ted Poston’s Best Explanations.Frank Cabrera - forthcoming - International Journal for the Study of Skepticism:1-10.
    I give a critical overview of the volume, focusing my attention on the chapters that deal with the explanationist response to skepticism.
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  6. In Defense of the Explanationist Response to Skepticism.Kevin McCain - 2019 - International Journal for the Study of Skepticism 9 (1):38-50.
    _ Source: _Page Count 13 A promising response to the threat of external world skepticism involves arguing that our commonsense view of the world best explains the sensory experiences that we have. Since our commonsense view of the world best explains our evidence, we are justified in accepting this commonsense view of the world. Despite the plausibility of this Explanationist Response, it has recently come under attack. James Beebe has argued that only a version of the Explanationist Response that provides (...)
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  7. Edging Toward ‘Reasonably’ Good Corporate Governance.Donald Nordberg - 2018 - Philosophy of Management 17 (3):353-371.
    Over four decades, research and policy have created layers of understandings in the quest for "good" corporate governance. The corporate excesses of the 1970s sparked a search for market mechanisms and disclosure to empower shareholders. The UK-focused problems of the 1990s prompted board-centric, structural approaches, while the fall of Enron and many other companies in the early 2000s heightened emphasis on director independence and professionalism. With the financial crisis of 2007–09, however, came a turn in some policy approaches and in (...)
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  8. Skepticism and Spatial Objects.Ali Hasan - 2018 - International Journal for the Study of Skepticism 8 (2):73-95.
    I defend external world realism. I assume that the principle of inference to the best explanation is justified: roughly, a hypothesis that provides a better explanation of the total evidence is more probable than one that does not. I argue that the existence of a world of spatial objects provides a systematic explanation of the spatial contents of visual experience, and that it provides a better explanation than traditional skeptical hypotheses. This paper thus pursues the explanationist strategy of Laurence BonJour (...)
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  9. In Defense of Rationalism About Abductive Inference.Ali Hasan - 2017 - In Ted Poston & Kevin McCain (eds.), Best Explanations: New Essays on Inference to the Best Explanation. Oxford University Press.
    Laurence BonJour and more recently James Beebe have argued that the best way to defend the claim that abduction or inference to the best explanation is epistemically justified is the rationalist view that it is justified a priori. However, rationalism about abduction faces a number of challenges. This chapter focuses on one particular, highly influential objection, that there is no interpretation of probability available which is compatible with rationalism about abduction. The rationalist who wants to maintain a strong connection between (...)
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  10. The Reliability of Memory: An Argument From the Armchair.Ali Hasan - forthcoming - Episteme:1-18.
    The “problem of memory” in epistemology is concerned with whether and how we could have knowledge, or at least justification, for trusting our apparent memories. I defend an inductive solution—more precisely, an abductive solution—to the problem. A natural worry is that any such solution would be circular, for it would have to depend on memory. I argue that belief in the reliability of memory can be justified from the armchair, without relying on memory. The justification is, roughly, that my having (...)
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  11. Skepticism, Externalism, and Inference to the Best Explanation.Jochen Briesen - 2008 - Abstracta 4 (1):5-26.
    This paper focuses on a combination of the antiskeptical strategies offered by semantic externalism and the inference to the best explanation. I argue that the most difficult problems of the two strategies can be solved, if the strategies are combined: The strategy offered by semantic externalism is successful against standard skeptical brain-in-a-vat arguments. But the strategy is ineffective, if the skeptical argument is referring to the recent-envatment scenario. However, by focusing on the scenario of recent envatment the most difficult problems (...)
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  12. Inference to the Best Explanation and the Challenge of Skepticism.Bryan C. Appley - unknown
    In this dissertation I consider the problem of external world skepticism and attempts at providing an argument to the best explanation against it. In chapter one I consider several different ways of formulating the crucial skeptical argument, settling on an argument that centers on the question of whether we're justified in believing propositions about the external world. I then consider and reject several options for getting around this issue which I take to be inadequate. I finally conclude that the best (...)
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  13. Cartesian Skepticism and Inference to the Best Explanation.Jonathan Vogel - 1990 - Journal of Philosophy 87 (11):658-666.
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  14. Skepticism and Elegance.Kevin McCain - 2016 - International Journal for the Study of Skepticism 6 (1):30-43.
    _ Source: _Volume 6, Issue 1, pp 30 - 43 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 (...)
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  15. Bertrand Russells „Erkenntnis der Außenwelt“.Hugo Bergmann - 1920 - Kant-Studien 25 (1):50.
  16. 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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  17. 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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  18. Evidentialism and Epistemic Justification.Kevin McCain - 2014 - Routledge.
    Evidentialism is a popular theory of epistemic justification, yet, as early proponents of the theory Earl Conee and Richard Feldman admit, there are many elements that must be developed before Evidentialism can provide a full account of epistemic justification, or well-founded belief. It is the aim of this book to provide the details that are lacking; here McCain moves past Evidentialism as a mere schema by putting forward and defending a full-fledged theory of epistemic justification. In this book McCain offers (...)
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  19. Rationalist Responses to Skepticism: A New Puzzle.Tim Willenken - 2015 - Philosophers' Imprint 15.
    Most promising responses to skepticism fall into “Moorean” or “rationalist” camps. Mooreans believe that some apparently circular forms of reasoning allow us to have justification to believe that skeptical hypotheses are false. Rationalists believe that we have a priori justification to believe that skeptical hypotheses are false. It can seem that anti-skeptics are stuck choosing between fishy circular reasoning and mysterious a priori justification. I present a new difficulty for rationalism by focusing on skeptical scenarios wherein our faculties of a (...)
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  20. One World and the Many Sciences: A Defence of Physicalism.Andrew Melnyk - 1991 - Dissertation, Oxford University
    The subject of this thesis is physicalism, understood not as some particular doctrine pertaining narrowly to the philosophy of mind, but rather as a quite general metaphysical claim to the effect that everything is, or is fundamentally, physical. Thus physicalism explicates the thought that in some sense physics is the basic science. The aim of the thesis is to defend a particular brand of physicalism, which I call eliminative type physicalism. It claims, roughly, that every property is a physical property, (...)
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  21. Michael Williams And The Hypothetical World.E. Brandon - 2002 - Minerva 6:151-161.
    Michael Williams has frequently considered and rejected approaches to “our knowledge of the external world”that see it as the best explanation for certain features of experience.This paper examines the salience of his position to approaches such as Mackie’s that do not deny thepresentational directness of ordinary experience but do permit a gap between how things appear and how theyare that allows for sceptical doubts.Williams’ main argument is that, to do justice to its place in a foundationalist strategy, the external world (...)
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  22. How to Analyse Retrodictive Probabilities in Inference to the Best Explanation.Andrew Holster - manuscript
    IBE ('Inference to the best explanation' or abduction) is a popular and highly plausible theory of how we should judge the evidence for claims of past events based on present evidence. It has been notably developed and supported recently by Meyer following Lipton. I believe this theory is essentially correct. This paper supports IBE from a probability perspective, and argues that the retrodictive probabilities involved in such inferences should be analysed in terms of predictive probabilities and a priori probability ratios (...)
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  23. Skeptical Thoughts Concerning Explanationism and Skepticism.Clayton Littlejohn - 2014 - Symposion: Theoretical and Applied Inquiries in Philosophy and Social Sciences 1 (1):77-87.
    According to the explanationist, we can rely on inference to best explanation to justifiably believe familiar skeptical hypotheses are false. On this view, commonsense beliefs about the existence and character of familiar, medium-sized dry goods provides the best explanation of our evidence and so justifies our belief that we're not brains-in-vats. This explanationist approach seems prima facie plausible until we press the explanationist to tell us what the data is that we're trying to explain by appeal to our beliefs about (...)
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  24. Cartesian Skepticism and the Inference to the Best Explanation.Jonathan Vogel - 1998 - In Alcoff Linda (ed.), Epistemology: The Big Questions. Blackwell. pp. 352--9.
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  25. The Refutation of Skepticism.Jonathan Vogel - 2005 - In Steup Matthias & Sosa Ernest (eds.), Contemporary Debates in Epistemology. Blackwell. pp. 72--84.
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  26. Antiskeptische Trittbrettfahrer des semantischen Externalismus.Jochen Briesen - 2011 - Zeitschrift für Philosophische Forschung 65 (4):100-122.
    Die philosophische Skepsis bezweifelt argumentativ, dass Menschen über Wissen verfügen. Eine interessante und viel beachtete Reaktion auf diese Skepsis basiert auf dem semantischen Externalismus. Obwohl die antiskeptische Strategie des Externalismus im Laufe der Jahre entscheident verbessert wurde, krankt sie in den Augen vieler Philosophen immer noch an einer stark beschränkten Reichweite: Sie ist nur hinsichtlich ganz bestimmter Varianten skeptischer Argumentation erfolgreich – durch geschickte Modifikation des skeptischen Arguments ist der Skeptiker in der Lage, sein Argument gegen den externalistischen Angriff zu (...)
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  27. Skepticism and Elegance: Problems for the Abductivist Reply to Cartesian Skepticism.Matthew B. Gifford - 2013 - Philosophical Studies 164 (3):685-704.
    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.
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  28. A Refutation of Skepticism Via Inference to the Best Explanation.Quee Nelson - 2007 - Philosopher's Carnival #82.
  29. BonJour on Explanation and Skepticism.Jonathan Vogel - 2010 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 41 (4):413-421.
    Laurence BonJour, among others, has argued that inference to the best explanation allows us to reject skeptical hypotheses in favor of our common-sense view of the world. BonJour considers several skeptical hypotheses, specifically: our experiences arise by mere chance, uncaused; the simple hypothesis which states merely that our experiences are caused unveridically; and an elaborated hypothesis which explains in detail how our unveridical experiences are brought about. A central issue is whether the coherence of one’s experience makes that experience more (...)
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  30. A Few Words About Knowledge, Scepticism, and Entailment.Charles B. Daniels - 1978 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 8 (2):341 - 342.
    In a recent article entitled “Scepticism and Knowing That One Knows”, Michael Hall poses a sceptical argument based upon two rules of inference:where ‘Kp’ stands for ‘it is known that p'. The argument goes:Hall attacks R2, but he says little about R1. I wish to add a few words of warning about R1 as well.
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  31. The Abductivist Reply to Skepticism.James R. Beebe - 2009 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 79 (3):605-636.
    Abductivists claim that explanatory considerations (e.g., simplicity, parsimony, explanatory breadth, etc.) favor belief in the external world over skeptical hypotheses involving evil demons and brains in vats. After showing how most versions of abductivism succumb fairly easily to obvious and fatal objections, I explain how rationalist versions of abductivism can avoid these difficulties. I then discuss the most pressing challenges facing abductivist appeals to the a priori and offer suggestions on how to overcome them.
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  32. What is a Situation?Tom Burke - 2000 - History and Philosophy of Logic 21 (2):95-113.
    This paper examines the role of ?situations? in John Dewey's philosophy of logic. To do this properly it is necessary to contrast Dewey's conception of experience and mentality with views characteristic of modern epistemology. The primary difference is that, rather than treat experience as peripheral and or external to mental functions (reason, etc.), we should treat experience as a field in and as a part of which thinking takes place. Experience in this broad sense subsumes theory and fact, hypothesis and (...)
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  33. Peacocke’s A Priori Arguments Against Scepticism.B. J. C. Madison - 2011 - Grazer Philosophische Studien 83 (1):1-8.
    In The Realm of Reason (2004), Christopher Peacocke develops a “generalized rationalism” concerning, among other things, what it is for someone to be “entitled”, or justified, in forming a given belief. In the course of his discussion, Peacocke offers two arguments to the best explanation that aim to undermine scepticism and establish a justification for our belief in the reliability of sense perception, respectively. If sound, these ambitious arguments would answer some of the oldest and most vexing epistemological problems. In (...)
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  34. The Matrix as Metaphysics.David J. Chalmers - 2005 - In Christopher Grau (ed.), Philosophers Explore the Matrix. Oxford University Press. pp. 132.
    The Matrix presents a version of an old philosophical fable: the brain in a vat. A disembodied brain is floating in a vat, inside a scientist’s laboratory. The scientist has arranged that the brain will be stimulated with the same sort of inputs that a normal embodied brain receives. To do this, the brain is connected to a giant computer simulation of a world. The simulation determines which inputs the brain receives. When the brain produces outputs, these are fed back (...)
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  35. BonJour’s Abductivist Reply to Skepticism.James R. Beebe - 2007 - Philosophia 35 (2):181-196.
    The abductivist reply to skepticism is the view that commonsense explanations of the patterns and regularities that appear in our sensory experiences should be rationally preferred to skeptical explanations of those same patterns and regularities on the basis of explanatory considerations. In this article I critically examine Laurence BonJour’s rationalist version of the abductivist position. After explaining why BonJour’s account is more defensible than other versions of the view, I argue that the notion of probability he relies upon is deeply (...)
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