Can the Pyrrhonian Sceptic Suspend Belief Regarding Scientific Definitions?

History of Philosophy & Logical Analysis 23 (1):253-288 (2020)
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Abstract

In this article, I tackle a heretofore unnoticed difficulty with the application of Pyrrhonian scepticism to science. Sceptics can suspend belief regarding a dogmatic proposition only by setting up opposing arguments for and against that proposition. Since Sextus provides arguments exclusively against particular geometrical definitions in Adversus Mathematicos III, commentators have argued that Sextus’ method is not scepticism, but negative dogmatism. However, commentators have overlooked the fact that arguments in favour of particular geometrical definitions were absent in ancient geometry, and hence unavailable to Sextus. While this might explain why they are also absent from Sextus’ text, I survey and evaluate various strategies to supply arguments in support of particular geometrical definitions.

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Benjamin Wilck
Hebrew University of Jerusalem

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