This work, written from a neo-Pyrrhonian perspective, is an examination of contemporary theories of knowledge and justification. It takes ideas primarily found in Sextus Empiricus's Outlines of Pyrrhonism, restates them in a modern idiom, and then asks whether any contemporary theory of knowledge meets the challenges they raise. The first part, entitled "Gettier and the Problem of Knowledge," attempts to rescue our ordinary concept of knowledge from those philosophers who have assigned burdens to it that it cannot bear. Properly understood, (...) Fogelin shows that the concept of knowledge is unproblematic. The second part of this study, called "Agrippa and the Problem of Justification," examines Agrippa's contribution to Pyrrhonism, a systematic reduction of its procedures which came to be known as the "Five Modes Leading to the Suspension of Belief." These modes present a completely general procedure for refuting any claim a dogmatist might make. Though largely unnoticed, there is, according to Fogelin, an uncanny resemblance between problems posed by Agrippa's "Five Modes" and those that contemporary epistemologists address under the heading of a theory of justification. Fogelin examines the strongest contemporary theories of justification--in both foundationalist and anti-foundationalist forms. The conclusion is that recent philosophical writings on justification have made no significant progress in responding to the Pyrrhonian problems these writings have addressed. (shrink)
Arguing that criticisms have--from the very start--rested on misreadings, Fogelin begins by providing a narrative of the way Hume’s argument actually unfolds. What Hume’s critics (and even some of his defenders) have failed to see is that Hume’s primary argument depends on fixing the appropriate standards of evaluating testimony presented on behalf of a miracle. Given the definition of a miracle, Hume quite reasonably argues that the standards for evaluating such testimony must be extremely high. Hume then argues that, as (...) a matter of fact, no testimony on behalf of a religious miracle has even come close to meeting the appropriate standards for acceptance. (publisher, edited). (shrink)
No serious philosopher or student of philosophy can afford to neglect Wittgenstein's work. Professor Fogelin provides an authoritative critical evaluation of both the _Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus_ and _Philosophical Investigations_, enabling the reader to come to grips with these difficult yet key works. Fogelin explains Wittgenstein's attempt in the _Tractatus_ to combine a picture theory of propositional structure, and also explores Wittgenstein's own criticisms of the Tractarian synthesis. He gives particular attention to topics in the philosophy of language, logic, psychology and the (...) foundations of mathematics, examining Wittgenstein's work on these fields and arguing that Wittgenstein's criticisms in these areas form the basis for a radically new standpoint in philosophy. (shrink)
In this updated edition of his brief, engaging book, Robert J. Fogelin examines figures of speech that concern meaning-irony, hyperbole, understatement, similes, metaphors, and others-to show how they work and to explain their attraction.
Taking Wittgenstein at His Word is an experiment in reading organized around a central question: What kind of interpretation of Wittgenstein's later philosophy emerges if we adhere strictly to his claims that he is not in the business of presenting and defending philosophical theses and that his only aim is to expose persistent conceptual misunderstandings that lead to deep philosophical perplexities? Robert Fogelin draws out the therapeutic aspects of Wittgenstein's later work by closely examining his account of rule-following and how (...) he applies the idea in the philosophy of mathematics.The first of the book's two parts focuses on rule-following, Wittgenstein's "paradox of interpretation," and his naturalistic response to this paradox, all of which are persistent and crucial features of his later philosophy. Fogelin offers a corrective to the frequent misunderstanding that the paradox of interpretation is a paradox about meaning, and he emphasizes the importance of Wittgenstein's often undervalued appeals to natural responses. The second half of the book examines how Wittgenstein applies his reflections on rule-following to the status of mathematical propositions, proofs, and objects, leading to remarkable, demystifying results.Taking Wittgenstein at His Word shows that what Wittgenstein claims to be doing and what he actually does are much closer than is often recognized. In doing so, the book underscores fundamental--but frequently underappreciated--insights about Wittgenstein's later philosophy. (shrink)
Human beings are both supremely rational and deeply superstitious, capable of believing just about anything and of questioning just about everything. Indeed, just as our reason demands that we know the truth, our skepticism leads to doubts we can ever really do so. In Walking the Tightrope of Reason, Robert J. Fogelin guides readers through a contradiction that lies at the very heart of philosophical inquiry. Fogelin argues that our rational faculties insist on a purely rational account of the universe, (...) yet at the same time, the inherent limitations of these faculties ensure that we will never fully satisfy that demand. As a result of being driven to this point of paradox, we either comfort ourselves with what Kant called "metaphysical illusions" or adopt a stance of radical skepticism. No middle ground seems possible and, as Fogelin shows, skepticism, even though a healthy dose of it is essential for living a rational life, "has an inherent tendency to become unlimited in its scope, with the result that the edifice of rationality is destroyed." In much Postmodernist thought, for example, skepticism takes the extreme form of absolute relativism, denying the basis for any value distinctions and treating all truth-claims as equally groundless. How reason avoids disgracing itself, walking a fine line between dogmatic belief and self-defeating doubt, is the question Fogelin seeks to answer. Reflecting upon the ancient Greek skeptics as well as such thinkers as Hume, Kant, Wittgenstein, Nietzsche, and Whitman, this book takes readers into--and through--some of philosophy's most troubling paradoxes. (shrink)
This collection of essays on themes in the work of John Locke , George Berkeley , and David Hume , provides a deepened understanding of major issues raised in the Empiricist tradition. In exploring their shared belief in the experiential nature of mental constructs, The Empiricists illuminates the different methodologies of these great Enlightenment philosophers and introduces students to important metaphysical and epistemological issues including the theory of ideas, personal identity, and skepticism. It will be especially useful in courses devoted (...) to the history of modern philosophy. (shrink)
David Lewis has argued that there must be a difference between indicative and counterfactual conditionals beyond an indication of truth-value commitments. He cites the following contrast to show this: If Oswald did not shoot Kennedy, then someone else did. If Oswald had not shot Kennedy, then someone else would have. In response, it is shown that this difference is better explained by shifts in context. Keep context fixed, the contrast disappears. EG: If Oswald was not the one who shot Kennedy, (...) then someone else was. If Oswald had not been the one who shot Kennedy, then someone else would have been. (shrink)
In *Cognition and Commitment in Hume's Philosophy*, Don Garrett argues for the coherence of Hume's philosophy when it is viewed as work in cognitive psychology. Without denying this, I argue that there is more to Hume's standpoint than cognitive psychology. Specifically, Hume's standpoint shifts as the level of inquiry changes. A descriptive cognitive psychology is one standpoint that he occupies. However, he occupies other standpoints as well: the commonsense standpoint of the vulgar is one; the radical doubt of the skeptic (...) is another. Such a radical perspectivism is central to Hume's writings. (shrink)
Since both berkeley and hume are committed to the view that a line is composed of finitely many fundamental parts, They must find responses to the standard geometrical proofs of infinite divisibility. They both repeat traditional arguments intended to show that infinite divisibility leads to absurdities, E.G., That all lines would be infinite in length, That all lines would have the same length, Etc. In each case, Their arguments rest upon a misunderstanding of the concept of a limit, And thus (...) are not successful. Berkeley, However, Adds a further ingenious argument to the effect that the standard geometrical proofs of infinite divisibility misread the unlimited representational capacity of geometrical diagrams as a substantive feature of the objects that these diagrams represent. The article concludes that berkeley is right on this matter, And that the traditional proofs of infinite divisibility do not show what they are intended to show. (shrink)
This essay explains a Pyrrhonian skepticism in contrast with Cartesian skepticism, and then argues that what externalists and contextualists oppose is only Cartesian skepticism. It contends that externalists and contextualists actually back themselves into a Pyrrhonist position because externalists give up the search for reasons for belief, and contextualists admit that believers have no reasons for their beliefs within epistemological contexts, which is whenever skepticism is at issue.
Contrary to the standard interpretations, this essay shows that Hume, in Section X of the Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, explicitly put forward an a priori argument intended to show that, by the nature of the case, there must always be adequate empirical evidence establishing that a reported miracle could not have taken place.
The basic thesis ofMichaelWilliams'book Unnatural Doubts is that sceptical doubts, at least of a Cartesian variety, are neither natural nor intuitive, but are, instead, the product of 'contentious and possibly dispensable theoretical preconceptions'. In particular, for Williams, scepticism arises because of a commitment to what he calls 'epistemic realism'. A fundamental thesis of my book Pyrrhonian Reflections on Knowledge and Justification is that scepticism (in its most challenging forms) is not based upon such prior theoretical commitments, but rather is the (...) natural outcome of unrestricted exploitation of a feature already present in our everyday concept of knowledge. Specifically, our everyday epistemic practices contain a useful mechanism that raises the level of evidential scrutiny in problematic settings. However, in the absence of psychological constraints (as in Hume) or pragmatic constraints (as in Peirce), this mechanism can generate an ever-widening range of undefeated possible defeaters- and with this, radical forms of scepticism emerge.Scepticism is not the result ofmounting the wronghorse (as Williams thinks),but the result of riding a serviceable horse too hard. With respect to Williams'own contextualist response, it is not clear whether, in the end, he avoids or embraces a strong version of scepticism. He claims that Cartesian doubts arise in a particular context, namely, the context of pursuing an epistemically realistic programme. In that context, according to Williams, Cartesian scepticism is unanswerable. His central claim, I take it, is that nothing compels us to do philosophy under these contextual constraints. In arguingthisway,however,Williamsseemsto have adopted a strongversion of relativism of just the sort traditionally exploited for sceptical purposes. To the claim 'It is all a matter of context', the correct response is, 'It had better not be- at least if you are trying to refute scepticism.'Perhaps Williams can produce a strongly contextualist position that does not slide into scepticism, and perhaps his appeal- rather late his book- to externalist consideration is intended to do this.But just as it is unclear whether contextualism can avoid scepticism, it is also unclear whether externalism has force against sensibly stated (even very strong) versions of scepticism. (shrink)
Fallacies are things people commit, and when they commit them they do something wrong. What kind of activities are people engaged in when they commit fallacies, and in what way are they doing something wrong? Many different things are called fallacies. The diversity of the use of the concept of a fallacy suggests that we are dealing with a family of cases not related by a common essence. However, we suggest a simple account of the nature of fallacies which encompasses (...) them all, viz., the term “fallacy” is our most general term for criticizing any general procedure used for the fixation of beliefs that has an unacceptably high tendency to generate false or unfounded beliefs, relative to that method of fixing beliefs. Very different sorts of things called fallacies are examined in the light of this account, e.g., denying the antecedent, circular arguments, so-called informal fallacies, and propositions said to be fallacies. We do not provide a theory of fallacies. Still, on our account pretty much all of those things that have been called fallacies are fallacies, and they have been called fallacies for pretty much the same reasons. (shrink)