The purpose of this paper is twofold: to discuss some challenging issues concerning Sextus’ works and outlook, and to offer an overview of the influence exerted by Sextan Pyrrhonism on both early modern and contemporary philosophy.
In his Pyrrhonian Outlines , Sextus Empiricus employs an argument based upon the possibility of disagreement in order to show that one should not assent to a Dogmatic claim to which at present one cannot oppose a rival claim. The use of this argument seems to be at variance with the Pyrrhonian stance, both because it does not seem to accord with the definition of Skepticism and because the argument appears to entail that the search for truth is doomed to (...) failure. In the present paper, I examine the passages in which Sextus utilizes the argument from possible disagreement and offer an interpretation that makes the use of this argument compatible with the Pyrrhonian outlook. (shrink)
The present paper has two, interrelated objectives. The first is to analyze the different senses in which arguments are characterized as persuasive in the extant writings of Sextus Empiricus. The second is to examine the Pyrrhonist’s therapeutic use of arguments in the discussion with his Dogmatic rivals – more precisely, to determine the sense and basis of Sextus’ distinction between therapeutic arguments that appear weighty and therapeutic arguments that appear weak in their persuasiveness.
In this paper, I critically engage with Casey Perin's interpretation of Sextan Pyrrhonism in his book, The Demands of Reason: An Essay on Pyrrhonian Scepticism. From an approach that is both exegetical and systematic, I explore a number of issues concerning the Pyrrhonist's inquiry into truth, his alleged commitment to the canons of rationality, and his response to the apraxia objection.
The purpose of the present paper is twofold. First, to examine what beliefs, if any, underlie (a) the Pyrrhonist’s desire for ataraxia and his account of how this state may be attained, and (b) his philanthropic therapy, which seeks to induce, by argument, ejpochv and ataraxia in the Dogmatists. Second, to determine whether the Pyrrhonist’s philanthropy and his search for and attainment of ataraxia are, as scholars have generally believed, essential aspects of his stance.
Disagreement is a pervasive feature of human life whose skeptical implications have been emphasized particularly by the ancient Pyrrhonists and by contemporary moral skeptics. Although the connection between disagreement and skepticism is also a focus of analysis in the emerging and burgeoning area of epistemology concerned with the significance of controversy, it has arguably not received the full attention it deserves. The present volume explores for the first time the possible skeptical consequences of disagreement in different areas and from different (...) perspectives, with an emphasis in the current debate over the epistemic impact of disagreement. The thirteen new essays collected here examine the Pyrrhonian approach to disagreement and its relevance to the present epistemological discussions of the topic; the relationship between disagreement and moral realism and antirealism; disagreement-based skeptical arguments in contemporary epistemology; and disagreement and the possibility of philosophical knowledge and justified belief. Given the ever-growing interest in both the significance of disagreement and the challenge of skepticism, this volume makes a new contribution by conjugating two important trends in current philosophical research. (shrink)
This paper approaches the current epistemological debate on peer disagreement from a neo-Pyrrhonian perspective, thus adopting a form of skepticism which is more radical than those discussed in the literature. It makes use of argumentative strategies found in ancient Pyrrhonism both to show that such a debate rests on problematic assumptions and to block some maneuvers intended to offer an efficacious way of settling a considerable number of peer disputes. The essay takes issue with three views held in the peer (...) disagreement debate: there is an objective fact of the matter about at least most controversial questions; we possess theory-neutral evidence bearing on those questions which grants us access to the truth of the matter; and many peer controversies are resolved by attending to which disputant has correctly evaluated the objective evidence. With respect to the first two views, it is argued that the belief in both objective facts and theory-neutral evidence is subject to fierce dispute, and should not therefore be taken for granted in the discussion of peer disagreement. As for the third view, it is argued that from either a first- or a third-person perspective, there seems to be epistemic symmetry between the disputants which makes it necessary to suspend judgment. (shrink)
It is generally thought that suspension of judgment about a proposition p is the doxastic attitude one is rationally compelled to adopt whenever the epistemic reasons for and against p are equipollent or equally credible, that is, whenever the total body of available evidence bearing on p epistemically justifies neither belief nor disbelief in p. However, in a recent contribution to this journal, Jan Wieland proposes “to broaden the conditions for suspension, and argue that it is rational to suspend belief (...) on a certain issue even if one’s current evidence is not neutral (or even close to neutral)”. My aim in this paper is to point to a number of problems in Wieland’s position, some of which in connection with the account of Pyrrhonian skepticism found in the extant works of Sextus Empiricus. (shrink)
This paper argues for the following three claims. First, the Agrippan mode from disagreement does not play a secondary role in inducing suspension of judgment. Second, the Pyrrhonist is not committed to the criteria of justification underlying the Five Modes of Agrippa, which nonetheless does not prevent him from non-doxastically assenting to them. And third, some recent objections to Agrippan Pyrrhonism raised by analytic epistemologists and experimental philosophers fail to appreciate the Pyrrhonist's ad hominem style of argumentation and the real (...) challenge posed by the mode from disagreement. (shrink)
It is sometimes claimed that conciliatory views on disagreement ultimately lead to either global or widespread scepticism. This is deemed to be a serious problem for conciliationism either because scepticism of either kind is a patently untenable stance or because it poses a serious threat to our intellectual and social lives. In this paper, I first argue that the alleged untenability of both types of scepticism is far from being obvious and should therefore be established rather than taken for granted, (...) and then that those who reject them because of the threat they pose surprisingly confuse pragmatic reasons with epistemic reasons. (shrink)
This paper argues that Sextus Empiricus’s Pyrrhonism is a form of relativism markedly different from the positions typically referred to by this term. The scholars who have explored the relativistic elements found in Sextus’s texts have claimed that his outlook is not actually a form of relativism, or that those elements are inconsistent with his account of Pyrrhonism, or that he is confusing skepticism with relativism. The reason for these views is twofold: first, when employing the term ‘relativism’ one hardly (...) has in mind the sort of relativist stance adopted by the Pyrrhonist; and second, those scholars have misinterpreted Sextus’s relativistic remarks. The purpose of this paper is to show that he adopts a ‘phenomenological’ kind of relativism that is compatible with his account of Pyrrhonism. (shrink)
An objection that has been raised to the conciliatory stance on the epistemic significance of peer disagreement known as the Equal Weight View is that it is self-defeating, self-undermining, or self-refuting. The proponent of that view claims that equal weight should be given to all the parties to a peer dispute. Hence, if one of his epistemic peers defends the opposite view, he is required to give equal weight to the two rival views, thereby undermining his confidence in the correctness (...) of the Equal Weight View. It seems that the same objection could be leveled against those who claim to suspend judgment in the face of pervasive unresolvable disagreements, as do the Pyrrhonian skeptics. In this paper, I explore the kind of response to the objection that could be offered from a neo-Pyrrhonian perspective, with the aim of better understanding the intriguing character of Pyrrhonian skepticism. (shrink)
This translation of the two books that make up Against the Logicians is a valuable addition to the ever increasing literature on Pyrrhonism. The only previous complete English version of these two books is that of R. G. Bury, which appeared in 1935 in the Loeb Classical Library as the second volume of..
Julia Annas has affirmed that the kind of modern moral skepticism which denies the existence of objective moral values rests upon a contrast between morality and some other system of beliefs about the world which is not called into doubt. Richard Bett, on the other hand, has argued that the existence of such a contrast is not a necessary condition for espousing that kind of moral skepticism. My purpose in this paper is to show that Bett fails to make a (...) good case against Annas’ thesis. To accomplish this, it will be helpful to consider the Pyrrhonean attitude towards morality as expounded in Sextus Empiricus’ work. (shrink)
Particularly during the past twenty five years, there has been an outstanding advance in the study of ancient skepticism, both in its Pyrrhonian and Academic varieties. This is reflected in the publication of a considerable number of works about the nature and consistency of those philosophical outlooks, as well as about their influence on the development of early modern philosophy and their relevance to present day epistemological discussions. Most of these works concern Pyrrhonian skepticism. This predominance of interest in Pyrrhonism (...) over Academic skepticism also manifests itself in the fact that, whereas in recent years several new translations of Sextus Empiricus' writings (our principal source for Pyrrhonism) have appeared in the most important European languages, the same has not happened with Cicero's Academica, which is our main source of information about the philosophy of the skeptical Academy. Even though Sextus'. (shrink)