David Owens

in Normativity and Control

Published in print September 2017 | ISBN: 9780198713234
Published online September 2017 | e-ISBN: 9780191781667 | DOI:

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Contemporary discussion of scepticism focuses on the possibility that all or most of our beliefs might be false. This chapter argues that the hypothesis of massive falsity and the associated ‘problem of the external world’ are inessential to the scepticisms of Descartes and Hume. What drives Cartesian and Humean scepticism is the demand for certainty: any possibility of error, however local, must be ruled out before we can claim either justified belief or knowledge. Contemporary philosophers have largely ignored this form of scepticism because they doubt that the demand for certainty can be motivated. In fact, Descartes provides a sound motivation for this demand in his Fourth Meditation.

Keywords: Descartes; Hume; scepticism; Fourth Meditation; certainty

Chapter.  8686 words. 

Subjects: Metaphysics ; Moral Philosophy

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