[Topics: Assumption, Evidence, Skepticism, Belief]
The Least Assumptions:

Cartesian Skepticism, and Reducing Guesses and Assertions in a Belief Network to the Minimum

 

Portrait of René Descartes after Frans Hals - minimizing assumptions

Portrait of René Descartes (based on the painting by Frans Hals)

Introduction:

I closed the examination of pragmatic ethics in the previous article by saying that this time I would talk about “the one and only assumption I am always willing to make (and the only assumption that you should ever be willing to stand by).” So I’m going to do just that. But before getting to that one assumption, I want to make a few remarks about why it is important to minimize assumptions when forming beliefs.

As René Descartes famously observed, it is always striking how very much of what any given person claims to know (and so believe) rests upon a network of baseless or near-baseless assumptions, assertions, and heuristics so densely matted together that the person fails to realize that there is no actual solidity to its foundation whatsoever. An important feature of this nebulous nest of guesses and half-considered notions is the redundant and overlapping (if occasionally contradicting) nature of its constituent elements. It is just such a nest to which I aim to provide a superior alternative.

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[Topics: Assumption, Evidence, Skepticism, Belief]
The Least Assumptions:

Cartesian Skepticism, and Reducing Guesses and Assertions in a Belief Network to the Minimum

was last modified: March 11th, 2016 by Daniel Podgorski

[Topics: Epistemology, Moorean Shift, Skepticism]
Intuition All Alone:

On G.E. Moore’s Tempting but Insufficient Answer to Radical Skepticism

 

Introduction:

Although there are several voices that shine the brightest as philosophers of philosophical skepticism, it is a topic which has captured the attention of a huge number of philosophers throughout time. The so-called challenge of radical skepticism has been raised and allegedly met time and time again. One of the aforementioned notable voices in the past century was G.E. Moore, who advocated what he and others have termed a ‘common sense’ response to radical skepticism (where radical skepticism refers to the position that knowledge—or certainly knowledge of the external world—is impossible).

Formally, Moore’s response proceeds from what is now in certain contexts called a Moorean shift—changing a modus ponens argument’s second premise to create a modus tollens argument which has an opposing conclusion (explained at more length below)—to support what are now in certain contexts called Moorean facts (a notion that is more intuitively knowable to a person than philosophical premises that contradict the notion). Those naming schema ought to tell you how influential these ideas have been. G.E. Moore was a capable and perceptive philosopher, and his work on skepticism was inspirational for Ludwig Wittgenstein (who later tried to formulate a more rigorous account of Moore’s approach in notes which were assembled into a book after Wittgenstein’s death). Now I will point out why G.E. Moore’s confident argument is insufficient for meeting the challenge of radical skepticism.

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[Topics: Epistemology, Moorean Shift, Skepticism]
Intuition All Alone:

On G.E. Moore’s Tempting but Insufficient Answer to Radical Skepticism

was last modified: December 9th, 2016 by Daniel Podgorski

[Topics: Epistemology, Philosophy of Language, Skepticism]
Superknowledge and Casual-knowledge:

Discussing the Fallacies Involved in One Minor Argument Against Radical Skepticism

 

Many of your Friday Phil articles thus far have provided overviews and general clarifications. In contrast to that style, this week I will be briefly taking up and criticizing a very specific argument, as I have enjoyed doing on one or two previous occasions. For today’s article, the argument under study is one that is intended to support the extant refutations of radical skepticism (where radical skepticism refers to the position that knowledge—or certainly knowledge of the external world—is impossible).

The argument in question, which is only meant to lend support to more rigorous arguments against such skepticism, could be called something like ‘the argument from common practice’ or ‘the superknowledge argument.’ Its aim is to show that certainty is not required for knowledge by showing that multiple related but distinct concepts are all being called ‘knowledge.’ I intend to showcase where this argument goes wrong in two ways, first through its propensity for special pleading and then through its rhetorical strategy.

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[Topics: Epistemology, Philosophy of Language, Skepticism]
Superknowledge and Casual-knowledge:

Discussing the Fallacies Involved in One Minor Argument Against Radical Skepticism

was last modified: April 18th, 2017 by Daniel Podgorski