Noûs 39 (4):559–595 (2005)

Bryan Frances
United Arab Emirates University
I’m going to argue for a set of restricted skeptical results: roughly put, we don’t know that fire engines are red, we don’t know that we sometimes have pains in our lower backs, we don’t know that John Rawls was kind, and we don’t even know that we believe any of those truths. However, people unfamiliar with philosophy and cognitive science do know all those things. The skeptical argument is traditional in form: here’s a skeptical hypothesis; you can’t epistemically neutralize it, you have to be able to neutralize it to know P; so you don’t know P. But the skeptical hypotheses I plug into it are “real, live” scientific-philosophical hypotheses often thought to be actually true, unlike any of the outrageous traditional skeptical hypotheses (e.g., ‘You’re a brain in a vat’). So I call the resulting skepticism Live Skepticism. Notably, the Live Skeptic’s argument goes through even if we adopt the clever anti-skeptical fixes thought up in recent years such as reliabilism, relevant alternatives theory, contextualism, and the rejection of epistemic closure. Furthermore, the scope of Live Skepticism is bizarre: although we don’t know the simple facts noted above, many of us do know that there are black holes and other amazing facts.
Keywords disagreement  skepticism  metaphilosophy  eliminative materialism
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1111/j.0029-4624.2005.00540.x
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

 PhilArchive page | Other versions
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Brainstorms.Daniel C. Dennett - 1978 - MIT Press.
Knowledge and Lotteries.John P. Hawthorn - 2003 - Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.

View all 49 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Imagining as a Guide to Possibility.Peter Kung - 2010 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 81 (3):620-663.
Disagreement.Jonathan Matheson & Bryan Frances - 2018 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
The Reflective Epistemic Renegade.Bryan Frances - 2010 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 81 (2):419 - 463.
Skepticism About Persons.John M. Doris - 2009 - Philosophical Issues 19 (1):57-91.

View all 15 citations / Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Living Without Closure.Krista Lawlor - 2005 - Grazer Philosophische Studien 69 (1):25-50.
Live Skeptical Hypotheses.Bryan Frances - 2008 - In John Greco (ed.), Oxford Handbook of Skepticism. Oxford University Press. pp. 225-245.
External World Skepticism.John Greco - 2007 - Philosophy Compass 2 (4):625–649.
Skeptical Success.Troy Cross - 2010 - Oxford Studies in Epistemology 3:35-62.
Skeptical Theism.Justin P. McBrayer - 2010 - Philosophy Compass 5 (7):611-623.


Added to PP index

Total views
807 ( #7,521 of 2,455,626 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
41 ( #19,618 of 2,455,626 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes