Anthony Brueckner and Jon Altschul suggest a version of skepticism according to which the skeptic posits a distinct skeptical hypothesis for each external world proposition that a person claims to know. In a recent issue of this journal, Eric Yang argues against this piecemeal approach. In this note, I show that Yang’s argument against piecemeal skepticism is fallacious.
What is the role of sceptical scenarios—dreams, evil demons, brains in a vat—in sceptical arguments? According to the error view, sceptical scenarios illustrate the possibility of massive falsity in one’s beliefs, whereas according to the ignorance view, they illustrate the possibility of massive ignorance not necessarily due to falsity. In this paper, the ignorance view is defended by surveying the arguments in favour of it and by replying to two pressing objections against it. According to the first objection, the ignorance view illicitly introduces the kk-principle into sceptical arguments. In reply I argue that kk is not less plausible than its main rival, the closure principle. According to the second objection, relying on veridical ignorance-possibilities contradicts the transparency of belief. In reply I introduce a version of transparency that is consistent with the ignorance view.
I concentrate on difficulties met by Putnam’s “internal” or “scientific” realism. They concern his attempt to reconcile pragmatism and realism. My line of argument is the following. A) By exploiting Putnam’s argument against the “God’s-eye view” (GEV) and the Brains-in-a-Vat argument (BIV), it can be shown that the realism he is defending is either a too strong metaphysical realism or a too weak “residual” position. B) If it is a metaphysical position, then it contradicts Putnam’s own views on GEV. C) If it is a “residual” position, then in the context of a Theory of meaning for formal and natural languages, it is not more explicative (and it may be even less so) than some forms of functionalism. The paper ends with an attempt to reconcile Putnam’s pragmatism with a functionalist approach to epistemic features of “meaning,” for the sake of a reconciliation between pragmatism and realism.
Nañez’s Full Gospel, Fractured Minds? (Zondervan, 2005). It takes up the task of drawing out the philosophical implications of the pentecostal way of life, of pentecostal “being-in-the-world.” It thus cannot be a philosophy for “brains-in-a-vat” since “brains-in-a- vat can’t dance before the Lord and
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it, “Cartesian” skepticism appeals to a closure principle in order to conclude that our ordinary perceptual beliefs are unjustified. The familiar idea is that belief in some hinge proposition such as that we are not brainsinavat is unjustified, and given closure this implies that our ordinary
denials of skeptical hypotheses—beliefs that we are not deceived by an evil demon, that we are not brainsinavat, and so on—are insensitive: were we deceived by an evil demon, we would still believe we were not. And we are perfectly aware of this insensitivity. Joyce’s principle would thus imply we are
hands, and that we know that if we have hands we are not handless brainsinavat, while it’s not true that we know we are not handless brainsinavat (although we know that by some lower standard). If one finds that acceptable, and can provide an explanation of the intuitive implausibility of the