Epistemological disputes in the philosophy of science often focus on the question of how restrained or expansive one should be in interpreting our best scientific theories and models. For example, some empiricist philosophers countenance only belief in their observable content, while realists of different sorts extend belief (in incompatible ways, reflecting their different versions of realism) to strictly unobservable entities, structures, events, and processes. I analyze these disputes in terms of differences regarding where to draw a line between domains in which one has warrant for belief and those in which one should suspend belief and thus remain sceptical. I consider and defend the idea that the precise location of this line is subject to a form of epistemic voluntarism, and argue that a Pyrrhonian reading of the basis of such voluntaristic choice is both natural and transformative of our understanding of these debates.
Ancient Skepticism, Voluntarism, and Science
In this introduction, I motivate the project of examining certain resonances between ancient skeptical positions, especially Pyrrhonism, and positions in contemporary epistemology, with special attention to recent work in the epistemology of science. One such resonance concerns the idea of suspension of judgment or belief in certain contexts or domains of inquiry, and the reasons for (or processes eventuating in) suspension. Another concerns the question of whether suspension of belief in such circumstances is voluntary, in any of the senses discussed in current work on voluntarism in epistemology, which informs recent discussions of how voluntarism regarding epistemic stances may shed light on positions like scientific realism and antirealism. The aim of this special issue is thus to explore certain analogies and disanalogies between ancient and contemporary debates about skepticism, and to consider whether and to what extent the former can provide insight into the latter.