I argue in this paper that philosophers have not clearly introduced the concept of a body in terms of which the problem of other minds and its solutions have been traditionally stated; that one can raise fatal objections to attempts to introduce this concept; and that the particular form of the problem of other minds which is stated in terms of the concept is confused and requires no solution. The concept of a "body" which may or may not be the (...) body of a person, which is required to state the traditional problem, is, on close examination, incoherent and cannot be introduced into a reasonable philosophical discussion. Also published in The Philosophy of the Body, Rejections of Cartesian Dualism, ed. Stuart F. Spicker. (shrink)
This paper compares the treatment of other minds in Strawson and Sartre. Both discussions are presented here as transcendental arguments, and some striking parallels between them are brought out. However the primary significance of the alignment lies in the difference that emerges between two forms of transcendental proof, with the phenomenological treatment in Sartre promising to yield a stronger conclusion than Strawson's argument. The paper goes some way towards bringing out this difference.
This book suggests that to know how Wittgenstein’s post-Tractarian philosophy could have developed from the work of Kant is to know how they relate to each other. The development from the latter to the former is invoked heuristically as a means of interpretation, rather than a historical process or direct influence of Kant on Wittgenstein. Ritter provides a detailed treatment of transcendentalism, idealism, and the concept of illusion in Kant’s and Wittgenstein’s criticism of metaphysics. Notably, it is through the conceptions (...) of transcendentalism and idealism that Wittgenstein’s philosophy can be viewed as a transformation of Kantianism. This transformation involves a deflationary conception of transcendental idealism along with the abandonment of both the idea that there can be a priori 'conditions of possibility' logically detachable from what they condition, and the appeal to an original ‘constitution’ of experience. -/- The closeness of Kant and post-Tractarian Wittgenstein does not exist between their arguments or the views they upheld, but rather in their affiliation against forms of transcendental realism and empirical idealism. Ritter skilfully challenges several dominant views on the relationship of Kant and Wittgenstein, especially concerning the cogency of Wittgenstein-inspired criticism focusing on the role of language in the first Critique, and Kant's alleged commitment to a representationalist conception of empirical intuition. (shrink)
Early in the Logic of Essence, the second main part of Hegelian Logic, Hegel identifies a logical structure, seeming (Schein), with “the phenomenon of scepticism.” The present paper has two aims: first, to flesh this identification out by describing the argument that leads up to it; and, second, to argue that it is mistaken. I will proceed as follows. Section 1 deciphers the opening statement of the Logic of Essence, “the truth of being is essence,” by specifying the meaning (...) of each of its composing terms. The discussion opens the way for deliberation on the meaning of the notion of seeming, since seeming proves to be what remains of being in the structure of essence. This is done in section 2. It is also shown therein that seeming takes two logical forms, dualistic seeming and monistic seeming. Section 3 argues that Hegel identifies scepticism only with dualistic seeming, and that the scepticism he has in mind is what one may call “subjective scepticism,” namely a scepticism grounded in the subject of cognition. The section concludes that Hegel, judged by his own standards, is mistaken in this identification. Finally, section 4 considers Robert Pippin’s objection to the above conclusion and offers a rejoinder. (shrink)
If we add as an extra premise that the agent does know H, then it is possible for her to know E H, we get the conclusion that the agent does not really know H. But even without that closure premise, or something like it, the conclusion seems quite dramatic. One possible response to the argument, floated by both Descartes and Hume, is to accept the conclusion and embrace scepticism. We cannot know anything that goes beyond our evidence, (...) so we do not know very much at all. This is a remarkably sceptical conclusion, so we should resist it if at all possible. A more modern response, associated with externalists like John McDowell and Timothy Williamson, is to accept the conclusion but deny it is as sceptical as it first appears. The Humean argument, even if it works, only shows that our evidence and our knowledge are more closely linked than we might have thought. Perhaps that’s true because we have a lot of evidence, not because we have very little knowledge. There’s something right about this response I think. We have more evidence than Descartes or Hume thought we had. But I think we still need the idea of ampliative knowledge. It stretches the concept of evidence to breaking point to suggest that all of our knowledge, including knowledge about the future, is part of our evidence. So the conclusion really is unacceptable. Or, at least, I think we should try to see what an epistemology that rejects the conclusion looks like. (shrink)
Although Henry Lee is often recognized to be an important early critic of Locke's 'way of ideas', his Anti-Scepticism (1702) has hardly received the scholarly attention it deserves. This paper seeks to fill that lacuna. It argues that Lee's criticism of Locke's alleged representationalism was original, and that it was quite different from the more familiar kind of criticism that was launched against Locke's theory of ideas by such thinkers as John Sergeant and Thomas Reid. In addition, the paper (...) offers an interpretation of Lee’s claim that, pace Locke, attempts to prove the veridicality of our cognitive apparatus are fundamentally misguided. (shrink)
In this paper, we develop a novel response to counterfactual scepticism, the thesis that most ordinary counterfactual claims are false. In the process we aim to shed light on the relationship between debates in the philosophy of science and debates concerning the semantics and pragmatics of counterfactuals. We argue that science is concerned with many domains of inquiry, each with its own characteristic entities and regularities; moreover, statements of scientific law often include an implicit ceteris paribus clause that restricts (...) the scope of the associated regularity to circumstances that are ‘fitting’ to the domain in question. This observation reveals a way of responding to scepticism while, at the same time, doing justice both to the role of counterfactuals in science and to the complexities inherent in ordinary counterfactual discourse and reasoning. (shrink)
I have argued for a kind of ‘counterfactual scepticism’: most counterfactuals ever uttered or thought in human history are false. I briefly rehearse my main arguments. Yet common sense recoils. Ordinary speakers judge most counterfactuals that they utter and think to be true. A common defence of such judgments regards counterfactuals as context-dependent: the proposition expressed by a given counterfactual can vary according to the context in which it is uttered. In normal contexts, the counterfactuals that we utter are (...) typically true, the defence insists, while granting that there may be more rarefied contexts in which they are false. I give a taxonomy of such contextualist replies. One could be a contextualist about the counterfactual connective, about its antecedent, or about its consequent. I offer some general concerns about all these varieties of contextualism. I then focus especially on antecedent-contextualism, as I call it. I firstly raise some high-level objections to it. Then, I look at such a contextualist account due to Sandgren and Steele. I think it has many virtues, but also some problems. I conclude with some avenues for future research. (shrink)
In this paper I introduce and critically examine a paradox about perceiving that is in some ways analogous to the paradox about meaning which Kripke puts forward in his exegesis of Wittgenstein's views on Rule-following. When applied to vision, the paradox of perceiving raises a metaphysical scepticism about which object a person is seeing if he looks, for example, at an apple on a tree directly in front of him. Physical objects can be seen when their appearance is distorted (...) in various ways by illusions. The question therefore arises as to how can we answer the sceptic who suggests the following: although the viewer appears to be seeing the green apple in front of him, he is actually suffering a bizarre illusion of a blue car situated somewhere behind him. The sceptic is not concerned with epistemic problems about how we know which object, if any, the subject is seeing; the sceptic is raising the more fundamental question: whatfact of the matter underlies a person's perceptual relation to the physical world, in virtue of which that person may be justified in arriving at a perceptual belief about the environment? Among the various different issues raised by the sceptic, I focus on the question: what determines the perceiving relation? I canvass a number of possible proposals in answer to it, concentrating mainly on two opposed accounts: the Disjunctive View and the Causal Theory of Perception. I argue in particular for the following two claims: that the paradox highlights the fact that the Disjunctive View fails to provide a coherent positive account of what perceiving is. that the problem of 'deviant causal chains', often thought to raise particular difficulties for the Causal theorist, can also be raised against other accounts of perception, including versions of the Disjunctive View. I conclude that unless the Causal Theory of Perception can be upheld, there will be no way of answering the sceptic. (shrink)
Interpreters of Hume on causation consider that an advantage of the ‘quasi-realist’ reading is that it does not commit him to scepticism or to an error theory about causal reasoning. It is unique to quasi-realism that it maintains this positive epistemic result together with a rejection of metaphysical realism about causation: the quasi-realist supplies an appropriate semantic theory in order to justify the practice of talking ‘as if’ there were causal powers in the world. In this paper, I problematise (...) the quasi-realist reading of Hume on causation by showing how quasi-realism does not speak to inductive scepticism. I also offer evidence that Hume takes inductive scepticism to result from his theory of causation, and that his scepticism is tied to his rejection of metaphysical causal realism. (shrink)
This paper offers a detailed criticism of different versions of modal scepticism proposed by Van Inwagen and Hawke, and, against these views, attempts to vindicate our reliance on thought experiments in philosophy. More than one different meaning of “ modal scepticism” will be distinguished. Focusing mainly on Hawke’s more detailed view I argue that none of these versions of modal scepticism is compelling, since sceptical conclusions depend on an untenable and, perhaps, incoherent modal epistemology. With a detailed (...) account of modal defeaters at hand I argue that Van Inwagen and Hawke’s scepticism is either groundless, or it leads to boundless and unacceptable modal scepticism. Additionally, I show that Hawke’s conception of analogical modal reasoning is problematic. Either his principle of similarity is arbitrary or it begs the question about modal scepticism. In contrast to Hawke’s restricted view of analogical modal reasoning, I present two examples of analogy-based modal justification of philosophically relevant possibility claims. My criticism of modal scepticism also shows that there is no good reason to insist on a sharp distinction between an unproblematic and a presumably dubious kind of modality. The upshot is that in absence of proper defeaters both Yablo-style conceivability and properly applied analogical reasoning are reliable guides to possibility, and also that modal justification comes in degrees. The proposed framework of defeaters of modal justification as well as the analysed examples of analogical modal reasoning trace out interesting new areas for further discussions. (shrink)
This article explores the relationship between epistemic relativism and Pyrrhonian scepticism. It is argued that a fundamental argument for contemporary epistemic relativism derives from the Pyrrhonian problem of the criterion. Pyrrhonian scepticism is compared and contrasted with Cartesian scepticism about the external world and Humean scepticism about induction. Epistemic relativism is characterized as relativism due to the variation of epistemic norms, and is contrasted with other forms of cognitive relativism, such as truth relativism, conceptual relativism and (...) ontological relativism. An argument from the Pyrrhonian problem of the criterion to epistemic relativism is presented, and is contrasted with three other arguments for epistemic relativism. It is argued that the argument from the criterion is the most fundamental argument for epistemic relativism. Finally, it is noted how the argument of the present paper fits with the author’s previous suggestion that a particularist response to the Pyrrhonian sceptic may be combined with a naturalistic view of epistemic warrant to meet the challenge of epistemic relativism. (shrink)
The relation of scepticism to infallibilism and fallibilism is a contested issue. In this paper I argue that Cartesian sceptical arguments, i.e. sceptical arguments resting on sceptical scenarios, are neither tied to infallibilism nor collapse into fallibilism. I interpret the distinction between scepticism and fallibilism as a scope distinction. According to fallibilism, each belief could be false, but according to scepticism all beliefs could be false at the same time. However, to put this distinction to work sceptical (...) scenarios have to be understood as ignorance-possibilities, not as error-possibilities. To show that scepticism is not tied to infallibilism I reject the principle of unrestricted relevance according to which any error- or ignorance-possibility whatsoever is relevant. Instead I argue that the sceptic should distinguish between local and global ignorance-possibilities. Global ignorance-possibilities are relevant even though not all ignorance-possibilities are relevant. The result is a refined version of the Cartesian sceptical argument that avoids two traps other versions do not avoid. (shrink)
Crispin Wright maintains that the architecture of perceptual justification is such that we can acquire justification for our perceptual beliefs only if we have antecedent justification for ruling out any sceptical alternative. Wright contends that this principle doesn’t elicit scepticism, for we are non-evidentially entitled to accept the negation of any sceptical alternative. Sebastiano Moruzzi has challenged Wright’s contention by arguing that since our non-evidential entitlements don’t remove the epistemic risk of our perceptual beliefs, they don’t actually enable us (...) to acquire justification for these beliefs. In this paper I show that Wright’s responses to Moruzzi are ineffective and that Moruzzi’s argument is validated by probabilistic reasoning. I also suggest that Wright cannot answer Moruzzi’s challenge without weakening the support available for his conception of the architecture of perceptual justification. (shrink)
I focus on a key argument for global external world scepticism resting on the underdetermination thesis: the argument according to which we cannot know any proposition about our physical environment because sense evidence for it equally justifies some sceptical alternative (e.g. the Cartesian demon conjecture). I contend that the underdetermination argument can go through only if the controversial thesis that conceivability is per se a source of evidence for metaphysical possibility is true. I also suggest a reason to doubt (...) that conceivability is per se a source of evidence for metaphysical possibility, and thus to doubt the underdetermination argument. (shrink)
We offer an overview of what we take to be the main themes in Annalisa Coliva’s book, Moore and Wittgenstein: Scepticism, Certainty and Common Sense. In particular, we focus on the ‘framework reading’ that she offers of Wittgenstein’s On Certainty and its anti-sceptical implications. While broadly agreeing with the proposal that Coliva puts forward on this score, we do suggest one important supplementation to the view—viz., that this way of dealing with radical scepticism needs to be augmented with (...) an account of the meta-sceptical problem which this proposal generates, which we call epistemic vertigo. (shrink)
So-called 'hinge propositions', Wittgenstein's version of our basic beliefs, are not propositions at all, but heuristic expressions of our bounds of sense which, as such, cannot meaningfully be said but only show themselves in what we say and do. Yet if our foundational certainty is necessarily an ineffable, enacted certainty, any challenge of it must also be enacted. Philosophical scepticism – being a mere mouthing of doubt – is impotent to unsettle a certainty whose salient conceptual feature is that (...) it is lived. I appeal to psychopathology to show that the lived refutation of a basic certainty is not a manifestation of uncertainty, but of madness. (shrink)
Free will sceptics deny the existence of free will, that is the command or control necessary for moral responsibility. Epicureans allege that this denial is somehow self-defeating. To interpret the Epicurean allegation charitably, we must first realise that it is propositional attitudes like beliefs and not propositions themselves which can be self-defeating. So, believing in free will scepticism might be self- defeating. The charge becomes more plausible because, as Epicurus insightfully recognised,there is a strong connection between conduct and belief—and (...) so between thecontent of free will scepticism (since it is about conduct) and the attitude of believing it. Second, we must realise that an attitude can be self- defeating relative to certain grounds. This means that it might be self-defeating to be a free will sceptic on certain grounds, such as the putative fact that we lack leeway or sourcehood. This charge is much more interesting because of the epistemic importance of leeway and sourcehood. Ultimately, the Epicurean charge of self-defeat fails. Yet, it delivers important lessons to the sceptic. The most important of them is that free will sceptics should either accept the existence of leeway or reject the principle that ‘“ought” implies “can”’. (shrink)
In ‘Ramseyan Humility’ David Lewis argues that a particular view about fundamental properties, quidditism, leads to the position that we are irredeemably ignorant of the identities of fundamental properties. We are ignorant of the identities of fundamental properties since we can never know which properties play which causal roles, and we have no other way of identifying fundamental properties other than by the causal roles they play. It has been suggested in the philosophical literature that Lewis’ argument for Humility is (...) merely an instance of traditional scepticism, to which traditional responses to scepticism are applicable. I agree that in ‘Ramseyan Humility’ Lewis does present an argument to which it is appropriate to consider the applicability of responses to traditional scepticism—he argues that we irredeemably lack the evidence to rule out possibilities in which different properties occupy the causal roles described by our best physical theory. And prima facie this is just the kind of argument responses to traditional scepticism are designed to tackle. However, I will argue that Lewis bolsters this argument with a second. This second argument serves to deepen Lewis’ case and cannot be met with a response to traditional scepticism. For Lewis argues that not only do we lack evidence for which properties play which roles, we lack the ability to grasp any such proposition about role-occupancy. And if we cannot grasp any such proposition we cannot know it. (shrink)
_ Source: _Volume 5, Issue 1, pp 29 - 54 This essay argues that the exploration of scepticism and its implications in the work of Stanley Cavell and David Hume bears more similarities than is commonly acknowledged, especially along the lines of what I wish to call “sceptical naturalism.” These lines of similarity are described through the way each philosopher relates the “natural” and “nature” to the universal, the necessary, and the conventional.
While Cavell is well known for his reinterpretation of the later Wittgenstein, he has never really engaged himself with post-Investigations writings like On Certainty. This collection may, however, seem to undermine the profoundly anti-dogmatic reading of Wittgenstein that Cavell has developed. In addition to apparently arguing against what Cavell calls ‘the truth of skepticism’ – a phrase contested by other Wittgensteinians – On Certainty may seem to justify the rejection of whoever dares to question one’s basic presuppositions. According to On (...) Certainty, or so it seems, the only right response to someone with different certainties is a reproach like ‘Fool!’ or ‘Heretic!’. This article aims to show that On Certainty need not be taken to prove Cavell wrong. It explains that Wittgenstein, in line with the first two parts of The Claim of Reason, does not reject scepticism out of hand but rather questions the sceptic’s self-understanding. Using arguments from Part Three of The Claim, the article moreover argues that a confrontation with divergence calls for self-examination rather than self-righteousness. Precisely because Wittgenstein acknowledges ‘the groundlessness of our believing’ or, in Cavellian terms, ‘the truth of skepticism’, he is not the authoritarian thinker that some have taken him to be. (shrink)
One of the most important views in the recent discussion of epistemological scepticism is Neo-Mooreanism. It turns a well-known kind of sceptical argument (the dreaming argument and its different versions) on its head by starting with ordinary knowledge claims and concluding that we know that we are not in a sceptical scenario. This paper argues that George Edward Moore was not a Moorean in this sense. Moore replied to other forms of scepticism than those mostly discussed nowadays. His (...) own anti-sceptical position turns out to be very subtle and complex; furthermore it changed over time. This paper follows Moore's views of what the sceptical problem is and how one should respond to it through a series of crucial papers with the main focus being on Moore's 'Proof of an External World'. An appendix deals with the much neglected relation between epistemological scepticism and moral scepticism in Moore. (shrink)
Nick Bostrom’s ‘Simulation Argument’ purports to show that, unless we are confident that advanced ‘posthuman’ civilizations are either extremely rare or extremely rarely interested in running simulations of their own ancestors, we should assign significant credence to the hypothesis that we are simulated. I argue that Bostrom does not succeed in grounding this constraint on credence. I first show that the Simulation Argument requires a curious form of selective scepticism, for it presupposes that we possess good evidence for claims (...) about the physical limits of computation and yet lack good evidence for claims about our own physical constitution. I then show that two ways of modifying the argument so as to remove the need for this presupposition fail to preserve the original conclusion. Finally, I argue that, while there are unusual circumstances in which Bostrom’s selective scepticism might be reasonable, we do not currently find ourselves in such circumstances. There is no good reason to uphold the selective scepticism the Simulation Argument presupposes. There is thus no good reason to believe its conclusion. (shrink)
An overview of the import of disjunctivism to the problem of radical scepticism is offered. In particular, the disjunctivist account of perceptual experience is set out, along with the manner in which it intersects with related positions such as naïve realism and intentionalism, and it is shown how this account can be used to a motivate an anti-sceptical proposal. In addition, a variety of disjunctivism known as epistemological disjunctivism is described, and it is explained how this proposal offers a (...) further way of responding to radical scepticism. (shrink)
One of the key debates in contemporary epistemology is that between Crispin Wright and John McDowell on the topic of radical scepticism. Whereas both of them endorse a form of epistemic internalism, the very different internalist conceptions of perceptual knowledge that they offer lead them to draw radically different conclusions when it comes to the sceptical problem. The aim of this paper is to maintain that McDowell's view, at least when suitably supplemented with further argumentation (argumentation that he may (...) or may not agree with), can be shown to be a viable alternative to Wright's anti-sceptical proposal, one that retains the driving motivation behind Wright's proposal while avoiding one of its most fundamental problems. Wright's wholesale rejection of the McDowellian anti-sceptical strategy is thus premature. (shrink)
In his recent work, Duncan Pritchard defends a novel Wittgensteinian response to the problem of radical scepticism. The response makes essential use of a form of non-epistemicism about the nature of hinge commitments. According to non-epistemicism, hinge commitments cannot be known or grounded in rational considerations, such as reasons and evidence. On Pritchard’s version of non-epistemicism, hinge commitments express propositions but cannot be believed. This is the non-belief theory of hinge commitments. One of the main reasons in favour of (...) NBT over rival anti-sceptical Wittgensteinian views is that it has less theoretical costs and revisionary consequences than its rivals. In this paper, I argue that NBT fares at least as bad as its rivals in terms of its theoretical costs and revisionism. In particular, I argue that NBT is inconsistent with certain cases of philosophical disagreement; that it faces worries with mental-state scepticism; and that it faces difficulties in explaining how we can represent ourselves as committed to hinge commitments. (shrink)
Ernest Sosa has made and continues to make major contributions to a wide variety of topics in epistemology. In this paper I discuss some of his core ideas about the nature of knowledge and scepticism. I start with a discussion of the safety account of knowledge – a view he has championed and further developed over the years. I continue with some questions concerning the role of the concept of an epistemic virtue for our understanding of knowledge. Safety and (...) virtue hang very closely together for Sosa. All this easily leads to some thoughts on epistemic scepticism and on Sosa's stance on this. (shrink)
This paper presents a particularist and naturalist response to epistemic relativism. The response is based on an analysis of the source of epistemic relativism, according to which epistemic relativism is closely related to Pyrrhonian scepticism. The paper starts with a characterization of epistemic relativism. Such relativism is explicitly distinguished from epistemological contextualism. Next the paper presents an argument for epistemic relativism that is based on the Pyrrhonian problem of the criterion. It then considers a response to the problem of (...) the criterion proposed by Roderick Chisholm, which is based on epistemological particularism. After sketching Chisholm’s approach, a response to epistemic relativism is presented which combines Chisholm’s particularism with epistemic naturalism and reliabilism. A number of objections to the position are then considered. The paper ends with remarks about the relationship between particularism and the naturalistic response proposed to epistemic relativism. (shrink)
Arguments for scepticism about perceptual knowledge are often said to have intuitively plausible premises. In this discussion I question this view in relation to an argument from ignorance and argue that the supposed persuasiveness of the argument depends on debatable background assumptions about knowledge or justification. A reasonable response to scepticism has to show there is a plausible epistemological perspective that can make sense of our having perceptual knowledge. I present such a perspective. In order give a more (...) satisfying response to scepticism, we need also to consider the standing of background beliefs. This is required since the recognitional abilities that enable us to have perceptual knowledge are informed by, or presuppose, a picture or conception of the world the correctness of which we have not ascertained. The question is how, in the face of this, to make sense of responsible belief-formation. In addressing this problem I make a suggestion about the standing of certain crucial beliefs linking appearances with membership of kinds. (shrink)
In my remarks, I discuss Sosa's attempt to deal with the sceptical threat posed by dreaming. Sosa explores two replies to the problem of dreaming scepticism. First, he argues that, on the imagination model of dreaming, dreaming does not threaten the safety of our beliefs. Second, he argues that knowledge does not require safety, but a weaker condition which is not threatened by dreaming skepticism. I raise questions about both elements of his reply.
McDowell has argued that external world scepticism is a pressing problem only in so far as we accept, on the basis of the argument from illusion, the claim that perceiving that p and hallucinating that p involve a highest common factor.
The Socratic Paradox (that only Socrates is wise, and only because only he recognizes our lack of wisdom) is explained, elaborated and defended. His philosophical scepticism is distinguished from others (Pyrrhonian, Cartesian, Humean, Kripkean Wittgenstein, etc.): the doubt concerns our understanding of our beliefs, not our justification for them; the doubt is a posteriori and inductive, not a priori. Post-Socratic philosophy confirms this scepticism: contra-Descartes, our ideas are not transparent to us; contra-Verificationism, no criterion distinguishes sense from nonsense. (...) The import of this scepticism for professional ethicists is examined. (shrink)
The article investigates the sceptical challenge from an informationtheoretic perspective. Its main goal is to articulate and defend the view that either informational scepticism is radical, but then it is epistemologically innocuous because redundant; or it is moderate, but then epistemologically beneficial because useful. In order to pursue this cooptation strategy, the article is divided into seven sections. Section 1 sets up the problem. Section 2 introduces Borei numbers as a convenient way to refer uniformly to (the data that (...) individuate) different possible worlds. Section 3 adopts the Hamming distance between Borei numbers as a metric to calculate the distance between possible worlds. In Sects. 4 and 5, radical and moderate informational scepticism are analysed using Borei numbers and Hamming distances, and shown to be either harmless (extreme form) or actually fruitful (moderate form). Section 6 further clarifies the approach by replying to some potential objections. In the conclusion, the Peircean nature of the overall approach is briefly discussed. (shrink)
Both Reid and Berkeley reject ‘representationalism’, an epistemological position whereby we perceive things in the world indirectly via ideas in our mind, on the grounds of anti-scepticism and common sense. My aim in this paper is to draw out the similarities between Reid and Berkeley's ‘anti-representationalist’ arguments, whilst also identifying the root of their disagreements on certain fundamental metaphysical issues. Reid famously rejects Berkeley's idealism, in which all that exists are ideas and minds, because it undermines the dictates of (...) common sense. Reid also charges Berkeley with not only accepting but furthering the progress of ‘the Way of Ideas’, a longstanding tradition which has drawn philosophy away from true science and common sense. From Berkeley's perspective, Reid is a ‘materialist’; that is, he dogmatically accepts that mind-independent things exist. I argue that these important differences can be explained by both thinkers’ construal of certain ‘philosophical prejudices’. Finally, I conclude that despite these differences, both ought to be characterised as ‘anti-representationalists’ in light of their shared epistemological concerns. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is to examine the medieval posterity of the Aristotelian and Pyrrhonian treatments of the infinite regress argument. We show that there are some possible Pyrrhonian elements in Autrecourt's epistemology when he argues that the truth of our principles is merely hypothetical. By contrast, Buridan's criticisms of Autrecourt rely heavily on Aristotelian material. Both exemplify a use of scepticism.
Jessica Wilson has recently offered a more sophisticated version of the self-defeat objection to Cartesian scepicism. She argues that the assertion of Cartesian scepticism results in an unstable vicious regress. The way out of the regress is to not engage with the Cartesian sceptic at all, to stop the regress before it starts, at the warranted assertion that the external world exists. We offer three reasons why this objection fails: first, the sceptic need not accept Wilson’s characterization of the (...) sceptical thesis and thus need not start her regress; second, even if she did commit to the regress, it would not undermine scepticism in the way Wilson envisages; and third, the appeal to mental state scepticism which is necessary to generate the second and subsequent steps in the regress is not justified. (shrink)
Educators, not to mention philosophers of education, find themselves in a difficult position nowadays. With the disappearance of the so-called metanarratives, it seems that the secular society has made it difficult, not to say almost impossible, to justify a particular idea of the good life that can be shared by all or at least many. The paper draws attention to some of the postmodernist critiques and thus identifies how we have ended up at this point; it then argues for a (...) different balance between the self and the other. What is offered can be seen as an extension of Benhabib’s cosmopolitan view that the self and others should iteratively and hospitably engage in deliberation. Although we agree with her that iterations are worthwhile in themselves, as well as with Smith’s view that spaces should be created for adaptable practical judgements in considering the other and its relation with the self, we find Cavell’s idea of ‘living with scepticism’—particularly, acknowledging humanity in the Other and oneself as apposite to extend the theoretical premises of cosmopolitanism. Such a cosmopolitanism of scepticism is different from the universalist notions of cosmopolitanism developed so far. (shrink)
If it works, I can use Putnam’s vat argument to show that I have not always been a brain-in-a-vat. It is widely thought that the vat argument is of no use against closure scepticism – that is, scepticism motivated by arguments that appeal to a closure principle. This is because, even if I can use the vat argument to show that I have not always been a BIV, I cannot use it to show that I was not recently (...) envatted, and it is thought that the claim that I am not justified in thinking that I was not recently envatted is all that the closure sceptic requires. In this paper I first argue that scenarios in which I have been recently envatted are inadequate for the sceptic’s purposes, and so the standard argument that the vat argument is of no use against closure scepticism fails. I then argue that it is not possible to revise the standard argument to meet my objection. I conclude that, if it works, I can use the vat argument as a defence against closure scepticism. (shrink)
Hegel's philosophy aims at responding to the questions raised by modern scepticism concerning the accessibility of the external world, of other minds, and of one's own mind. A key-role in Hegel's argumentative strategy against modern scepticism is played here by Hegel's theory of recognition. Recognition mediates the constitution of individual self-consciousness and intersubjectivity: self-knowledge is not logically independent of the awareness of other minds. At the same time, recognition institutes the possibility of objective reference to the world. In (...) this way, in Hegel the theory of recognition furnishes a unitary response to the threefold sceptical issue of the accessibility of the external world, of other minds, and of one's own mind. The reference to a common world of public objects is thus possible only thanks to the mediation of recognitive capacities that are naturally possessed and socially articulated, which make possible the triangulation between self, world and others. (shrink)
This paper (in English) highlights a hitherto neglected feature of Hegel’s 1807 Phenomenology of Spirit: its critique of the content of our basic categorial concepts. It focusses on Hegel’s semantics of cognitive reference in ‘Sense Certainty’ and his use of this semantics also in ‘Perception’ and ‘Force and Understanding’. Explicating these points enables us to understand how Hegel criticizes Pyrrhonian Scepticism on internal grounds.
This essay examines the strategies that Berkeley and Dharmakīrti utilize to deny that idealism entails solipsism. Beginning from similar arguments for the non-existence of matter, the two philosophers employ markedly different strategies for establishing the existence of other minds. This difference stems from their responses to the problem of intersubjective agreement. While Berkeley’s reliance on his Cartesian inheritance does allow him to account for intersubjective agreement without descending into solipsism, it nevertheless prevents him from establishing the existence of other finite (...) minds. I argue that Dharmakīrti, in accounting for intersubjective agreement causally, is able to avoid Berkeley’s shortcoming. I conclude by considering a challenge to Dharmakīrti’s use of inference that Ratnakīrti, a Buddhist successor of Dharmakīrti, advances in his “Disproof of the Existence of Other Minds” and briefly exploring a possible response that someone who wants to advocate an idealist position could give. (shrink)
In The Realm of Reason (2004), Christopher Peacocke develops a “generalized rationalism” concerning, among other things, what it is for someone to be “entitled”, or justified, in forming a given belief. In the course of his discussion, Peacocke offers two arguments to the best explanation that aim to undermine scepticism and establish a justification for our belief in the reliability of sense perception, respectively. If sound, these ambitious arguments would answer some of the oldest and most vexing epistemological problems. (...) In this paper I will evaluate these arguments, concluding that they are inconclusive at best. Despite offering some interestingly original arguments, Peacocke gives us no reason to think that scepticism is false, and that perception is generally reliable. (shrink)
Strawson's philosophical attitude towards scepticism is frequently thought to have undergone a significant shift from the “strong” or “robust” employment of transcendental arguments in Individuals to a more “modest” understanding of the efficacy of such arguments in Skepticism and Naturalism: Some Varieties. I argue that this interpretation is based upon a misunderstanding of the function of transcendental arguments in Strawson's earlier works. Examining the continuity of Strawson's modest naturalistic approach to scepticism can offer some insight as to the (...) continuing overestimation of the anti-sceptical efficacy of transcendental arguments. (shrink)
The main problem of this study is David Hume’s (1711-76) view on Metaphysical Realism (there are mind-independent, external, and continuous entities). This specific problem is part of two more general questions in Hume scholarship: his attitude to scepticism and the relation between naturalism and skepticism in his thinking. A novel interpretation of these problems is defended in this work. The chief thesis is that Hume is both a sceptic and a Metaphysical Realist. His philosophical attitude is to suspend his (...) judgment on Metaphysical Realism, whereas as a common man he firmly believes in the existence of mind-independent, external, and continuous entities. Therefore Hume does not have any one position; accordingly, a form of “no one Hume” interpretation (Richard Popkin, Robert J. Fogelin, Donald L.M. Baxter) is argued for in the book. The key point in this distinction is the temporal difference between Hume’s philosophical and everyday views. It is introduced in order to avoid attributing a conscious contradiction to him (a problem which has not attracted enough attention in the literature). The method of the work is modelled on Peter Millican’s work on Hume and induction. The approach to the main problem is to study the two “profound” arguments against the senses that Hume presents in the Section 12 of An Enquiry concerning Human Understanding (1748). These arguments are first reconstructed in detail resulting in Millican-type diagrams of them and then Hume’s endorsement of them is established on the basis of the diagrams. The first profound argument concludes that Metaphysical Realism and thus any Realistic theory of perception is unjustified as well as the existence of God and the soul. The second argument goes further having first conceptual conclusion: the very notions of Real entitity, material substance, and bodies are completely out of the reach of the faculty of understanding. Therefore they ought to be rejected according to Hume. This is a consequence of the consistent use of the Humean faculty of reason: idea-analysis and inductive inference. The second profound argument thus concludes that believing in Metaphysical Realism is inconsistent with the rational attitude that is to refrain from this belief. Hence, if we attributed both of them to Hume, we would end up with a great philosopher who embraces a manifest contradiction. The study is finished by arguing that this sceptical and Metaphysically Realistic interpretation concurs well with (1) Hume’s professed Academical philosophy and (2) project of the science of human nature. (1) According to Hume, Academical philosophy is in the first place diffidence, modesty, and uncertainty including suspension on certain issues. Secondly, it is restriction of the range of topics for which experience can provide a standard of truth. This kind of empiricist epistemological realism is coherent with the sceptical attitude on Metaphysical Realism because the latter does not rule out inter-subjective consensus on what we experience. (2) Suspension of judgment on Metaphysical Realism coheres with the mind-dependency of the objects of Hume’s science of human nature: the understanding, passions, morals, aesthetics, politics, and the human culture in all of its manifestations. Although the study takes the first Enquiry to be Hume’s authorised word on the understanding, his juvenile work A Treatise of Human Nature (1739-40) is argued to support this “no one Hume” interpretation. Hume’s other works are also discussed when needed. (shrink)
According to the standard view, Montaigne’s Pyrrhonian doubts would be in the origin of Descartes’ radical Sceptical challenges and his cogito argument. Although this paper does not deny this influence, its aim is to reconsider it from a different perspective, by acknowledging that it was not Montaigne’s Scepticism, but his Stoicism, which played the decisive role in the birth of the modern internalist conception of subjectivity. Cartesian need for certitude is to be better understood as an effect of the (...) Stoic model of wisdom, which urges the sage to build an inner space for self-sufficiency and absolute freedom. (shrink)