The Practical Price of Pyrrhonism

Philosophies 8 (6):104 (2023)
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Abstract

Sextus Empiricus presents Pyrrhonism as a skeptical lifestyle that is appealing, in large part, because of the tranquility it appears to afford. Addressing concerns about the practicality of such a lifestyle, Sextus suggests that Pyrrhonists can lead sufficiently ordinary lives while suspending belief about everything unclear. Here, I aim to offer a partial examination of the practicality and appeal of Pyrrhonism from the Pyrrhonist’s perspective. In particular, I examine how a skeptic would likely respond if asked to consider his potential use of problematic concepts in his daily life. I argue that, even if the Pyrrhonist’s skepticism is limited to certain types of controversial theoretical commitments, consideration of this issue would likely still cause him to worry that he is relying on beliefs about things unclear in his ordinary life. Along the way, I also hope to highlight some of the difficulties that a philosophically reflective person is likely to encounter if he is resistant to taking on philosophical commitments.

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Jeremy Byrd
Tarrant County College

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