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peter d. klein

Subject Philosophy » Epistemology

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631192589.1993.x


Scepticism is the view that we lack knowledge. It can be rather ‘local’ ( Pappas, 1978 ). For example, the view could be that we lack all knowledge of the future because we do not know that the future will resemble the past; or we could be sceptical about the existence of ‘other minds’. But there is another view – the absolute global view that we do not have any knowledge whatsoever. It is doubtful that any philosopher seriously entertained absolute global scepticism. Even the pyrrhonist sceptics who held that we should refrain from assenting to any non-evident proposition had no such hesitancy about assenting to ‘the evident’. The non-evident is any belief that requires evidence in order to be epistemically acceptable, i.e. acceptable because it is warranted. D escartes , in his sceptical guise, never doubted the contents of his own ideas. The issue for him was whether they ‘corresponded’ to anything beyond ideas. But Pyrrhonist and Cartesian forms of virtual global scepticism have been held and defended. Assuming that knowledge is some form of true, sufficiently warranted belief, it is the warrant condition, as opposed to the truth or belief condition, that provides the grist for the sceptic's mill. The Pyrrhonists will suggest that no non-evident, empirical proposition is sufficiently warranted because its denial will be equally warranted. A Cartesian sceptic will argue that ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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