Disjunctivism and Skepticism

In: Frontiers of Philosophy in China

Disjunctivism is the view that perceptual experience is either constituted by fact in the world or mere appearance. This view is said to be able to guarantee our cognitive contact with the world, and thus remove a crucial “prop” upon which skepticism depends. This paper has two aims. First, it aims to show that disjunctivism is a solution to Cartesian skepticism. Cartesian skepticism is an epistemological thesis, not an ontological one. Therefore, if there is an external world, we may well undergo a veridical experience, and thus we can take advantage of disjunctivism to adopt an anti-evidential-skepticism strategy to counter Cartesian skepticism. Second, this paper argues that disjunctivism fails to solve Pyrrhonian skepticism. To counter Pyrrhonian skepticism, one has to give reasons both for his belief and for his believing. But disjunctivism can only account the former, that is, the reason for the content of perceptual belief. Given that one’s experience in good case and bad case is subjectively indistinguishable, one cannot just use his experience to justify his believing. This shows that disjunctivism cannot meet the requirement to provide an adequate account for reflective knowledge.

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