Two major arguments have been advanced for the claim that there is a transmission failure in G.E. Moore’s famous proof of an external world. The first argument, due to Crispin Wright, is based on an epistemological doctrine now known as ‘conservatism’. Proponents of the second argument, like Nicholas Silins, invoke probabilistic considerations, most important among them Bayes’ theorem. The aim of this essay is to defend Moore’s proof against these two arguments. It is shown, first, that Wright’s argument founders because one of its premises, viz., conservatism, invites scepticism and must therefore be rejected. Then the probabilistic argument is challenged, not because its formal part is dubious, but rather on the grounds that it incorporates an unconvincing philosophical claim as an implicit premise. Finally, the two most promising objections to dogmatism—the negation of conservatism—are repudiated.
In this essay, I discuss three readings of Descartes’ Meditations. According to the first reading, “I exist” is for Descartes the foundation of our knowledge. This reading is dismissed on the grounds that, in his view, as long as God’s existence is not proven there is a good reason to doubt this proposition. Proponents of the second reading claim that there are two kinds of Cartesian knowledge: perfect and imperfect knowledge. The meditator has imperfect knowledge of “I exist” before God’s existence is proven. Subsequently, she acquires perfect knowledge of various metaphysical theorems. This reading is repudiated, too. I argue for a third reading, according to which “I think” – and not “I exist” – is the foundation of our knowledge.
Ever since Fred Dretske (1970) questioned closure, a denial of this principle has been among the standard options for a resolution of epistemological paradoxes such as the skeptical paradox (Cohen 1988) and the lottery paradox (Harman 1973). In this article, the author shall argue that all possible solutions of the latter paradox can only be defended if Multi-Premise Closure is rejected. These possible solutions are contextualism and both simple and sensitive moderate invariantism. It will be shown that skepticism and the denial of Single-Premise Closure are not possible solutions of the lottery paradox. The upshot of the discussion here will be that while Single-Premise Closure is beyond reasonable doubt, resolving the lottery paradox forces one to abandon Multi-Premise Closure.