Arguments and Reasons

Alan Bailey

in Sextus Empiricus and Pyrrhonean Scepticism

Published in print April 2002 | ISBN: 9780198238522
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191679667 | DOI:
Arguments and Reasons

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The coherence of Sextus' philosophic stance depends on his Pyrrhonism having the internal resources to overcome well-known criticisms of global scepticism. If Sextus must be seen as an advocate of global scepticism about rational justification and such scepticism is ultimately negligible, then Sextus' Pyrrhonism also stands condemned as incoherent. Fortunately, however, the self-refutation argument and the argument that the global sceptic cannot live his scepticism are not as conclusive as their reputations suggest. This chapter shows how Sextus' comments on the constrained nature of Pyrrhonists' beliefs enables the construction of a rebuttal of the objection about rational justification, that a global sceptic ought to eschew all belief. It also shows that the self-refutation argument fails to allow for the changing role of the Pyrrhonist's arguments as he moves towards philosophical maturity.

Keywords: Sextus; Pyrrhonism; Pyrrhonist; scepticism; self-refutation argument

Chapter.  4309 words. 

Subjects: Ancient Philosophy

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