Skepticism and Circular Arguments

in International Journal for the Study of Skepticism
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Perhaps the most popular and historically important way of responding to skepticism is by an appeal to non-inferential justification. A problem with this sort of response is that while it may constitute a response to skepticism, it does not constitute a response to the skeptic. At some point, the anti-skeptic must simply fall silent, resigned to the fact that his or her non-inferential justification for the belief challenged by the skeptic is not communicable. I want to point out a possible solution to this problem. I will argue that, in certain circumstances, it is possible to adduce circular arguments which are nevertheless rationally persuasive, and that the anti-skeptic may employ these arguments in lieu of simply falling silent when a non-inferentially justified belief is challenged. The almost universal assumption among philosophers that epistemically circular arguments are rationally useless is mistaken, and this fact can be utilized by the clever anti-skeptic.

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  • 1

     See Klein (1998) (2004) and (2005a).

  • 12

     See Sextus Empiricus (1985).

  • 13

    Conee & Feldman (2004) say something very much like this; see especially chapter 3.

  • 16

    Here I part company with Greco (2005) and Goldman (2009) and instead agree with Feldman (2005: 283).

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