Kriterion - Journal of Philosophy 29 (3):23-44 (2015)

Tamás Paár
Central European University
Those who I call meta-skeptics in my paper argue that one should suspend judgment about every philosophical question. Most often they use the argument from disagreement to show that the suspension of our philosophical beliefs is our epistemic obligation. In the present paper I argue against the main motivation for this view and show that since even the meta-skeptics’ stance is a contested philosophical one, their argument cannot succeed without refuting itself. Various meta-skeptics proposed counterobjections to this self-refutation objection. I consider here Jason Brennan’s quite simple and Bryan Frances’s more sophisticated counter-objections. Their proposals are even more interesting because they differ from the typical points of meta-skeptics: Brennan argues for outsider skepticism, that is non-philosophers should suspend judgment about philosophical issues, and Frances relies on the notion of epistemic superior instead of epistemic peer. I consider their points in two ways: whether their counter-objections can help regular meta-skepticism and whether their skepticism can stand on its own. In my replies to these proposals I show why both are problematic in each of these two ways. Brennan says that widespread disagreement is a sign of philosophy’s unreliability. Yet, he can only address the charge that his point is a philosophical one and not the objection that there can be disagreement about it. And since there is good reason to think that even his position is subject to disagreement, it is self-undermining. Furthermore, Brennan does not give any reason why any first-order philosophical theory must lack the virtues that his argument displays. Frances argues that even if the argument from disagreement is self-refuting and meta-skeptics have to suspend judgment about it, they might still remain skeptics after all. In my reply I show how Frances’s defense of his position still relies on principles that could be the objects of further arguments from disagreement.
Keywords skepticism  self-refutation  disagreement
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References found in this work BETA

Ethical Intuitionism.Michael Huemer - 2005 - Palgrave Macmillan.
Peer Disagreement and Higher Order Evidence.Thomas Kelly - 2010 - In Alvin I. Goldman & Dennis Whitcomb (eds.), Social Epistemology: Essential Readings. Oxford University Press. pp. 183--217.
The Epistemic Significance of Disagreement.Thomas Kelly - 2005 - In John Hawthorne & Tamar Gendler (eds.), Oxford Studies in Epistemology, Volume 1. Oxford University Press. pp. 167-196.
Warranted Christian Belief.Alvin Plantinga - 2000 - Philosophia Christi 3 (2):327-328.

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