Philosophy Talk: The Blog: The Place of Scepticism and Sceptical Arguments

Ken Taylor, at Philosophy Talk, explains some of his disappointment with epistemology here. John Greco was on the talk show this week, which is what prompted the post, but the post itself caught my attention for a couple of reasons. First, there are assumptions involved in the disappointment that, though common in the history of epistemology, are rarer in recent history: that refuting or answering the skeptic is logically connected to the possibility of knowledge, that knowing requires ruling out all alternative hypotheses, or that rational belief is different from knowledge on the issue of what needs to be ruled out (not to mention the pressing question of what epistemic concept is being expressed by terms such as “ruling out” and “refuting”).

But it was really something else that was telling in the post. After expressing disappointment about answering the skeptic, the post notes how such a failure leaves untouched something really important. It leaves untouched the nature of rational belief and rational inquiry. So instead of expressing disappointment with epistemology, what the post really does is offer a defense of value-driven epistemology! Greco, of course, would demur on the idea that addressing arguments for skepticism isn’t important, and I would too. But the story of much recent epistemology, even if it would find much to disagree with in the post, fits quite well with its more general point.


Philosophy Talk: The Blog: The Place of Scepticism and Sceptical Arguments — 3 Comments

  1. Hi Jon!

    Very interesting talk with Greco. I’m wondering what great skeptical arguments he has in mind that do not raise the standards on justification. Which arguments are they?

  2. Well, he doesn’t think any of the argument succeed, unless of course they are allowed to raise the standards. But I didn’t listen to the program! I know the general worries, according to John, are two: being able to defend in an acceptable way the reliability of sense perception, and being able to show that our evidence rules out alternative possibilities (the first is Hume, the second Descartes). And I know he thinks both of these positions can’t be responded to simply by insisting that they are raising the standards.

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