Jill Rusin
Wilfrid Laurier University
This paper discusses a common contemporary characterization of skepticism and skeptical arguments-that their real importance is instrumental, that they “drive progress in philosophy.“ I explore two possible contrasts to the idea that skepticism's significance is thus wholly methodological. First, I recall for the reader a range of views that can be understood as `truth in skepticism' views. These concessive views are those most clearly at odds with the idea that skepticism is false, but instrumentally valuable. Considering the contributions of such `truth in skepticism' theorists, I argue, shows that the good of furthering philosophical progress is partly achieved by the work of those who would reject the `merely methodological' view of skepticism's import. While this shows such a view of skepticism's import to be partially self-effacing, it is not therefore incoherent. Rather, the characterization is revealed to be wedded to particular diagnoses of skepticism, and not independently innocuous or neutral. Second, I discuss the idea that the `merely methodological' characterization of skepticism's import draws a contrast with philosophical positions or theses that are supposed to have practical teeth. Here, I think the danger of acquiescing too readily to this view is that the normative import of skeptical arguments is obscured. At a time when discussions of the value of knowledge are in ascendency, this in particular seems a loss-a route from consideration of skeptical arguments to broader normative questions worth keeping open is rather more obscured than opened up. Any radically revisionary outcome of an encounter with skepticism is less likely, led by such an understanding, just when there is opportunity instead to connect up with broad questions of epistemic value. For these reasons I argue the characterization is not one to too readily, unthinkingly, endorse
Keywords methodology   epistemic value   Lewis   Greco   skepticism   normativity
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1163/221057012x627249
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 65,593
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

The View From Nowhere.Thomas Nagel - 1986 - Oxford University Press.
Elusive Knowledge.David K. Lewis - 1996 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 74 (4):549 – 567.
Ignorance: A Case for Scepticism.Peter Unger - 1975 - Oxford University Press.
The Skeptic and the Dogmatist.James Pryor - 2000 - Noûs 34 (4):517–549.

View all 38 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Exuberant Skepticism.Paul Kurtz - 2010 - Prometheus Books 59 John Glenn Drive.
Skepticism, Self-Knowledge and Responsibility.David Macarthur - 2006 - In Stephen Hetherington (ed.), Aspects of Knowing. Elsevier. pp. 97.
The Oxford Handbook of Skepticism.John Greco (ed.) - 2008 - Oxford University Press.
Skeptical Theism, Moral Skepticism, and Divine Deception.Joshua Seigal - 2010 - Forum Philosophicum: International Journal for Philosophy 15 (2):251-274.
Evidentialism and Skeptical Arguments.Dylan Dodd - 2012 - Synthese 189 (2):337-352.
Two Skeptical Arguments or Only One?Kevin McCain - 2013 - Philosophical Studies 164 (2):289-300.
The Value of Teaching Moral Skepticism.Daniel Callcut - 2006 - Teaching Philosophy 29 (3):223-235.
Skepticism About Practical Reason.Christine M. Korsgaard - 1986 - Journal of Philosophy 83 (1):5-25.
Why Reasons Skepticism is Not Self‐Defeating.Stan Husi - 2011 - European Journal of Philosophy 21 (3):424-449.
Skepticism: A Contemporary Reader.Keith DeRose & Ted A. Warfield (eds.) - 1999 - Oxford University Press.


Added to PP index

Total views
43 ( #253,772 of 2,462,064 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
2 ( #298,852 of 2,462,064 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes