Deceptive Worlds, Skepticism, and Axiarchism

Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy:1-36 (forthcoming)
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Abstract

Axiarchism holds that fundamental concrete reality is necessarily ordered toward goodness. I argue that it is not fully rational to reject axiarchism while also rejecting radical skepticism. A key premise in the argument is that among conceivable worlds that contain one’s internal duplicate, ‘epistemically inhospitable’ worlds (i.e. worlds where all or most of one’s internal duplicates are radically deceived) are predominant. This predominance of inhospitable worlds provides a prima facie reason for thinking that the actual world is probably inhospitable. To avoid skepticism, this prima facie support for inhospitableness must be countered by a good reason to think that the actual world is probably epistemically hospitable. I argue that opponents of axiarchism lack any such reason. I consider various non-axiarchic ways of dismissing the inhospitable world hypothesis, including appeals to simplicity considerations and to a certain ‘representationalist’ theory of phenomenal consciousness, and find them wanting.

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John Pittard
Yale University

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