Scepticism and Metaphysics

Dominik Perler

in The Oxford Handbook of Medieval Philosophy

Published in print May 2012 | ISBN: 9780195379488
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

Scepticism and Metaphysics

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  • Philosophy
  • History of Western Philosophy
  • Epistemology



Medieval philosophers saw that sceptical arguments need to be taken seriously and paid close attention to their consequences. Yet, they also realized that these arguments are to be discussed in a metaphysical context and attempted to dissolve skeptical arguments by showing that they are in conflict with a number of basic metaphysical principles. This article discusses this close connection between epistemological and metaphysical issues by presenting two case studies, namely Thomas Aquinas's analysis of the demon hypothesis and John Buridan's reaction to the argument appealing to divine omnipotence. It suggests that one cannot understand how and why radical doubts were rejected or neutralized by medieval authors unless one pays attention to their explicit and implicit assumptions about the nature of knowledge claims and the methods for evaluating them.

Keywords: medieval scepticism; Thomas Aquinas; John Buridan; demon hypothesis; divine omnipotence

Article.  10091 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; History of Western Philosophy ; Epistemology

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