Underdetermination arguments for skepticism maintain that our common sense view of the external world is no better, evidentially speaking, than some skeptical competitors. An important and well-known response by dogmatists, those who believe our commonsense view is justified, appeals to abduction or inference to the best explanation. The predominant version of this strategy, going back at least to Locke, invokes Occam’s razor: dogmatists claim the common sense view is simpler than any of its skeptical alternatives and so has more to recommend it, evidentially speaking. This dispute has overshadowed another possible view: skeptical dogmatism. Skeptical dogmatists hold that we are justified in believing that the common sense view is probably false. I argue that skeptical dogmatism presents some interesting complications to the dialectic between the dogmatist and the skeptic. On the one hand, even if the dogmatist’s use of Occam’s razor is sufficient to rebut skepticism, in itself it is not sufficient to refute skeptical dogmatism. On the other hand, skeptics themselves, ironically, must, given the assumptions of the paper, appeal to something like Occam’s razor in order to avoid capitulating to skeptical dogmatism.
Beebe (2009) convincingly demonstrates that the abductivist response has a long history with many illustrious proponents. It is worth citing some of his evidence (Beebe 2009: 606) here to convince ourselves of its pedigree: Locke (1975) Russell (1948 1988 1992) Broad (1925) Ayer (1956) BonJour (1998 1999) Mackie (1976) BonJour and Sosa (2003) Cornman (1975) Goldman (1988) Lycan (1988) and Vogel (1990 2005).
In Walker (2015) I explore various moves the skeptic might make to avoid or answer this dilemma.
Again see Walker (2015) for a conditional defense of skeptical dogmatism.
Huemer (2009) questions whether philosophical applications of or can be made on analogy with scientific uses of or.
See Beebe (2009) for some discussion of such virtues.