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Scepticism about Scepticism

Zangwill, Nick

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Abstract

Skeptical arguments are intuitively gripping. Or at least they seem to be. They readily capture the imagination and curiosity of beginners in philosophy. The arguments are easy to state but seemingly impossible to answer. Furthermore there is a powerful pessimistic induction. Those who think they have a reply inevitably haven’t appreciated the force of skeptical arguments. So, at least, I believed for many years, along with most of my fellow philosophers. In this paper I reconsider epistemological skepticism within a framework in which the dependence of epistemic properties on non-epistemic properties plays a central role. I argue that a notable consequence of foregrounding dependence is that skeptical arguments no longer have even a prima facie grip on us. At very least, parity is established between skepticism and its opposite. The presumption in favor of skepticism is obliterated. At most, the main types of skeptical argument are refuted. It sounds unlikely, I know, given the history of failures to refute skepticism, and the number of papers and books that begin with similar bravado yet end up failing with panache. Nevertheless, let’s see.

Journal Article Type Review
Publication Date Jan 1, 2016
Journal Philosophy
Print ISSN 0031-8191
Electronic ISSN 1469-817X
Publisher Cambridge University Press (CUP)
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 91
Issue 1
Pages 109-118
Institution Citation Zangwill, N. (2016). Scepticism about Scepticism. Philosophy : the journal of the British Institute of Philosophical Studies, 91(1), 109-118. doi:10.1017/S0031819115000522
DOI https://doi.org/10.1017/S0031819115000522
Keywords Skepticism, Scepticism, Skeptical arguments , Sceptical arguments
Additional Information This is the author's accepted manuscript of an article which has been accepted for future publication in: Philosophy.

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