In Defense of a Critical Commonsensist Conception of Knowledge

in International Journal for the Study of Skepticism
Restricted Access
Get Access to Full Text
Rent on DeepDyve

Have an Access Token?

Enter your access token to activate and access content online.

Please login and go to your personal user account to enter your access token.


Have Institutional Access?

Access content through your institution. Any other coaching guidance?


Questioning doubt is much more recent than questioning knowledge, and may be traced back to Charles Sanders Peirce and Ludwig Wittgenstein. Both have a close pragmatist strategy and reject the relevance of the radical Cartesian scenario. However, despite a common diagnosis of what goes wrong with the sceptic and of some illusions he entertains about thinking, knowledge, and the way they are related to practice and action, the replies are not the same. Whereas Wittgenstein wavers between a realistic reaction and a neo-Pyrrhonian attitude, Peirce’s offensive attack strongly relies on a metaphysical and scientific version of realism and on a critical Common Sensist method of inquiry. Both philosophers insist on relying on first principles or hinge propositions, but also illustrate rather different views about these. The aim of this paper is to try and show how and why, in the end, Peirce’s Critical Commonsensist and fallibilistic attitude seems a better strategy, both as an account of the logic of our epistemic practices and as a convincing parry to scepticism.

In Defense of a Critical Commonsensist Conception of Knowledge

in International Journal for the Study of Skepticism



BouveresseJ. (1976). Le Mythe de l’Intériorité. Paris: Minuit.

ColivaA. (2010). Moore and Wittgenstein: Scepticism Certainty and Common Sense. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

———. (2013). “ Hinges and Certainty: A Précis of Moore and Wittgenstein. Scepticism, Certainty and Common SensePhilosophia41: 112.

DiamondC. (1996). The Realistic SpiritWittgenstein Philosophy and the Mind. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

FogelinR. (1994). Pyrrhonian Reflections on Knowledge and Justification. New York: Oxford University Press.

HookwayC. (2000). Truth Rationality and Pragmatism. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

McGinnM. (1989). Sense and Certainty. Oxford: Blackwell.

MisakC. (1991). Truth and the End of Inquiry. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Moyal-SharrockD. (2007). Understanding Wittgenstein’s On Certainty. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

PeirceC.S. (1938–1959). The Collected Papers of C.S. Peirce. 8 vols. Edited by C. Harsthorne P. Weiss & A. Burks. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

———. (1966). The Charles S. Peirce Papersmicrofilm edition. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Photographic Service.

———. (1976). The New Elements of Mathematics. 4 vols. Edited by C. Eisele. The Hague: Mouton.

———. (1982–2009). Writings of Charles S. Peirce: A Chronological Edition. Vols. 1–6 & 8. Edited by M. Fisch E. Moore C. Kloesel N. Houser et al.Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

PritchardD. (2012). “ Wittgenstein and the Groundlessness of Our Believing.” In ColivaA.MorruzziS. & VolpeG. (eds.) Scepticism and Justification. Special issue of Synthese189: 255272.

PutnamH. (1990). Realism with a Human Face. Edited by ConantJ.Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

———. (2001). “ Skepticism, Stroud and the Contextuality of KnowledgePhilosophical Explorations1: 216.

RobinR. (1967). Annotated Catalogue of the Papers of Charles S. Peirce. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press.

RortyR. (1961). “ Pragmatism, Categories and LanguageThe Philosophical Review70: 197223.

SchulteJ. (1992). Lire Wittgenstein. Combas: Éditions de l’éclat.

StrawsonP.F. (1985). Skepticism and Naturalism: Some Varieties. London: Methuen.

TiercelinC. (1989). “ Reid and Peirce on Belief.” In M. Dalgarno & E. Matthews (eds.) The Philosophy of Th. Reid209223. Amsterdam: Kluwer Akademic Publishers.

———. (1993a). Peirce et le pragmatisme. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France.

———. (1993b). La pensée-signe études sur Peirce. Nîmes: éd. J. Chambon.

———. (2005). Le Doute en question: parades pragmatistes au défi sceptique. Paris: Éditions d’Ithaque.

———. (2014). The Pragmatists and the Human Logic of truth. Online edition in the series “La Philosophie de la connaissance du Collège de France”

WittgensteinL. (1969). The Blue and Brown Books. 2nd edition. Oxford: Blackwell.

———. (1977). On Certainty. Amended 1st edition. Edited by G.E.M. Anscombe and G.H. von Wright; translated by D. Paul and G.E.M. Anscombe. Oxford: Blackwell.

———. (1997). Philosophical Investigations. 2nd edition. Translated by G.E.M. Anscombe. Oxford: Blackwell.

WrightC. (1991). “ Scepticism and Dreaming: Imploding the DemonMind397: 87115.

———. (2000). “ Cogency and Question-Begging: Some Reflections on McKinsey’s Paradox and Putnam’s ProofPhilosophical Issues10: 140163.

———. (2004). “ Wittgensteinian Certainties.” In McManusD. (ed.) Wittgenstein and Scepticism2255. London: Routledge.

Index Card

Content Metrics

Content Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 15 15 7
Full Text Views 11 11 11
PDF Downloads 1 1 1
EPUB Downloads 0 0 0