Chapter

Scepticism

Alan Millar

in Reasons and Experience

Published in print March 1991 | ISBN: 9780198242703
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191680540 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198242703.003.0008
Scepticism

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This chapter discusses scepticism. After a brief treatment of the idea that we should suspend all our beliefs about the world around us, it focuses on scepticism with regard to whether any of our beliefs are justified. Crude sceptical strategies posit various ‘right’ conditions on justified belief, and argue that beliefs which by our ordinary standards are justified do not satisfy the right conditions. Such strategies are undermined by the fact that the sceptic has no adequate rationale for his austere ‘right’ conditions. The chapter then considers a sophisticated strategy which bases scepticism on a demand which is supposed to be written into our ordinary thinking about justification, rather than imposed arbitrarily by the sceptic. The demand is that modes of genuine justification be truth-indicative. The rationale for this demand is supposed to be found in the idea that we aim to believe only what is true. It is agreed that we aim to believe only what is true and that therefore we certainly want our modes of justification to be truth-indicative. It does not follow from this that genuine justification must be in a truth-indicative mode. Our justified beliefs are ones with respect to which, roughly speaking, we have done what we feasibly could to ensure that we believe only what is true. This leaves room for the possibility that some of our modes of justification are not truth-indicative. The upshot is that the sophisticated sceptic misunderstands what aiming at truth requires of us.

Keywords: belief; scepticism; justification; right conditions; truth-indicative

Chapter.  6946 words. 

Subjects: Metaphysics

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