Stroud's Proposal for Removing the Threat of Skepticism

In W. Wong, N. Kolodny & J. Bridges (eds.), The Possibility of Philosophical Understanding: Essays for Barry Stroud. Oxford University Press (forthcoming)
Barry Stroud is well known as a critic of philosophers who purport to answer, or otherwise deflate, the threat of skepticism of the external world. He is most famous in this regard for his seminal paper on transcendental arguments, in which he argues that the prospects of defeating the skeptic with such arguments typically depend upon an implausible form of verification principle. There he mostly focuses upon Strawson and Shoemaker. But since then, Stroud has addressed strategies taken against skepticism as varied as those proposed by Kant, Moore, Austin, Carnap, Quine, Cavell, Davidson, and Sosa, in each case meticulously articulating precisely why the strategy could not ultimately succeed. It is not surprising, then, that Stroud has come to be thought of as the quintessential skeptic. Epistemologists will be surprised to learn, then, that in several recent papers Stroud now argues that we face no threat of skepticism after all. If he who has been so carefully critical of enterprises that purport to answer, or otherwise deflate, the threat of skepticism has something now to say as to why we face no such threat at all, it is a proposal that comes with good pedigree and perhaps even a presumption in its favor.
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