Knowledge and Scepticism

Timothy Williamson

in The Oxford Handbook of Contemporary Philosophy

Published in print November 2007 | ISBN: 9780199234769
Published online September 2009 | | DOI:


Knowledge and Scepticism


Scepticism is a disease in which healthy mental processes run pathologically unchecked. Our cognitive immunity system, designed to protect our conception of the world from harmful errors, turns destructively on that conception itself. Since we have false beliefs, we benefit from the ability to detect our mistakes; removing our errors tends to do us good. Our cognitive immunity system should be able to destroy bad old beliefs, not just prevent the influx of bad new ones. But that ability sometimes becomes indiscriminate, and destroys good beliefs too. That can happen in several ways. This article starts by considering two of them.

Keywords: scepticism; mental processes; immunity system; cognitive system; false beliefs; beliefs

Article.  10486 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; Epistemology

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