Epistemological Realism as the Skeptic’s Heart of Darkness

Journal of Philosophical Research 23:165-217 (1998)
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Abstract

Michael Williams has argued that radical “external world” skepticism, far from being an interesting philosophical discovery about knowledge, is actually a philosophical artifact, a by-product of “Epistemological Realism,” the view that there are objective epistemological relations able to group distinct kinds of “knowledge” (e.g., “experiential” vs. “external worldly”) into a context-invariant evidential order. I argue against this thesis. It is the skeptic’s conception of the world’s objectivity, not his conception of knowledge’s objectivity as a singular unified context-invariant structure, I maintain, that ultimately underlies the skeptic’s result. And where Epistemological Realism does enter the picture, it enters mainly as a consequence of Metaphysical Realism itself. Maintaining that the metaphysical realism at issue here is a natural, indeed platitudinous, doctrine, I argue that skepticism is better viewed as a philosophical discovery about knowledge than as an artifact of contentious philosophical dogma

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Ronald Wilburn
University of Calgary

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