The Sceptical Tradition

Walter Stephens

in The Oxford Handbook of Witchcraft in Early Modern Europe and Colonial America

Published in print March 2013 | ISBN: 9780199578160
Published online May 2013 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in History

The Sceptical Tradition

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  • Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)



Does witchcraft actually exist? Can it be shown to produce real effects in the external world of people and things, or is it instead an attempt to manipulate imaginary forces and produce effects that are imaginary, unverifiable, or indistinguishable from those produced by natural causes? This is the problem of scepticism concerning witchcraft, which is discussed in this article. The article covers the sources of scepticism, scepticism about demons, doubts concerning God’s permission of evil, scepticism concerning witches, and trajectories of scepticism about witchcraft.

Keywords: scepticism; witchcraft; demons; evil; witches

Article.  10121 words. 

Subjects: History ; Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)

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