An argument in favor of skepticism

However, each method arrives at a and b by different routes.

An argument in favor of skepticism

Ordinary Incredulity Even before examining the various general forms of skepticism, it is crucial that we distinguish between philosophical skepticism and ordinary incredulity because doing so will help to explain why philosophical skepticism is so intriguing.

Consider an ordinary case in which we think someone fails to have knowledge. Suppose Anne claims that she knows that the bird she is looking at is a robin and that I believe that if Anne were to look more carefully, she would see that its coloration is not quite that of a robin. Its breast is too orange.

Further, it seems that it flies somewhat differently than robins do, i. Thus, there are two grounds for doubting that Anne knows that it is a robin: The flight pattern of this bird is not typical of robins.

An argument in favor of skepticism

This is a case of ordinary doubt because there are, in principle, two general ways that are available for removing the grounds for doubt: The alleged grounds for doubt could be shown to be false; or It could be shown that the grounds for doubt, though true, can be neutralized.

In other words, Anne could show that a is false. But in order to remove grounds for doubt, it is not necessary that Anne show that the alleged grounds are false.

Alternative 2 is available. It could be granted that the bird in question flies in a way that is not at all typical of robins. But suppose that on closer inspection we see that some of its tail feathers have been damaged in a way that could cause the unusual flight pattern. Because the bird has difficulty gliding and flying in a straight line, it flaps its wings much more rapidly than is typical of robins.

Thus, although we can grant that b is true, we would have explained away, or neutralized, the grounds for doubt.

The point here is that in this case, and in all ordinary cases of incredulity, the grounds for the doubt can, in principle, be removed. As Wittgenstein would say, doubt occurs within the context of things undoubted.

If something is doubted, something else must be held fast because doubt presupposes that there are means of removing the doubt.

That is, we think our general picture of the world is right—or right enough—so that it does provide us with both the grounds for doubt and the means for potentially removing the doubt. Thus, ordinary incredulity about some feature of the world occurs against a background of sequestered beliefs about the world.

We are not doubting that we have any knowledge of the world. Far from it, we are presupposing that we do know some things about the world. In contrast, philosophical skepticism attempts to render doubtful every member of some class of propositions that we think falls within our ken. One member of the class is not pitted against another.

The grounds for either withholding assent to the claim that we can have such knowledge or denying that we can have such knowledge are such that there is no possible way either to answer them or to neutralize them by appealing to another member of the class because the same doubt applies to each and every member of the class.

Thus, philosophical doubt or philosophical skepticism, as opposed to ordinary incredulity, can not, in principle, be removed. Or so the philosophical skeptic will claim! To clarify the distinction between ordinary incredulity and philosophical doubt, let us consider two movies: The Truman Show and The Matrix.

But he begins to wonder whether the world surrounding him is, in fact, what it appears to be. Some events seem to happen too regularly and many other things are just not quite as they should be. Eventually, Truman obtains convincing evidence that all his world is a stage and all the men and women are merely players.

The crucial point is that even had he not developed any doubts, there is, in principle, a way to resolve them had they arisen.

Such doubts, though quite general, are examples of ordinary incredulity. Contrast this with the deception depicted in The Matrix. See Irwinfor collections of articles on The Matrix.

Put another way, the philosophical skeptic challenges our ordinary assumption that there is evidence available that can help us to discriminate between the real world and some counterfeit world that appears in all ways to be identical to the real world.The Regress Argument for Skepticism.

1. In order to know something, it’s not enough just to believe it – you have to have a good reason to believe it. In other words: For any proposition p, if S knows that p, then S has a good reason to believe that p (S is justified in believing that p).

Examines the science and arguments of global warming skepticism. Common objections like 'global warming is caused by the sun', 'temperature has changed naturally in the past' or 'other planets are warming too' are examined to see what the science really says.

No argument is able to prove that we are not brains in vats or not being deceived by the Evil Demon, and so on. We have to accept these as a possibility, however small. The Open Universe: An Argument for Indeterminism From the Postscript to The Logic of Scientific Discovery [Karl Popper, W.W.

Bartley III] on *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers. First published in Routledge is an imprint of Taylor & Francis, an informa company. But if the skeptic doesn't offer any reason for thinking this, his skepticism can be dismissed as arbitrary, rooted in personal preference rather than a substantive position or argument.

If, on the other hand, his skepticism is the result of an argument, this argument must be reasonable to be taken seriously. Climate Science Glossary Term Lookup. Enter a term in the search box to find its definition. Settings. Use the controls in the far right panel to increase or decrease the number of terms automatically displayed (or to completely turn that feature off).

Human Knowledge: Foundations and Limits