The Refutation of Scepticism

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I would assert that, while there is no argumentation to refute it, it holds no place in a conversation. The skeptic does not transcend, rather he falls to the bottom of the barrel where the irrelevancy of his argument belongs. It's not hunting if the deer pulls the trigger itself. The skeptic can claim that we can't know anything, that truth and falsity themselves don't exist. In order for there to be an argument, there must be a proposition. Propositions are true or false. But the skeptic doesn't accept the existence of propositions. Hence, he has no argument and no position to refute.

It is impossible to dismiss the hypothesis of living in a dream or a nightmare dominated by rules that would seem absurd to a further awakening - just as dreams' logic is meaningless in the wake world, and viceversa. Skepticism is a philosophical current transversal to epochs and thinkers, and it's impossible to provide a synopsis that does not present fatal inaccuracies; it can, however, roughly be divided into two strands I follow Richard H. Popkin, The history of skepticism. The first called Academician argues that no knowledge is possible, while the second called Pyrronian says that there is no adequate evidence to decide whether knowledge is possible, and therefore we should suspend our judgment on all the issues.

The first is an incomplete skepticism, because it does not apply to itself: it doubts about everything but not the doubt itself. The latter, however, is also problematic, because it exposes itself to contradicion.


Against the skeptical hypothesis, in fact, we can observe that it must also refer to itself: even the doubt itself should be questionable. If everything is a deception, why shouldn't be a deception the very mental process that leads us to this belief? Just as it's possible that everything is a deception, it's also possible that that "everything is a deception" is a deception.

Faced with this limit, the Pyronian tries to escape from language and defines his skepticism as an "attitude", a belief limited in time now I don't believe anything, in the future we'll see and a method of research.

Sesto Empirico defines his skepticism like as a medicine that, while healing the body, also eliminates itself - a metaphor that recalls the Buddhist parable of the raft to be abandoned once we reach the other side of the river, or the quote by a modern skeptic such as Wittgenstein, who writes:. My propositions serve as elucidations in the following way: anyone who understands me eventually recognizes them as nonsensical, when he has used them—as steps—to climb beyond them.

He must, so to speak, throw away the ladder after he has climbed up it. He must transcend these propositions, and then he will see the world aright. Even if we assume skepticism like an attitude, however, the skeptical question is condemned to a deadlock, because a skeptic can't be persuaded that her attitude toward truth is the right one. Although the confidence in our means of knowledge is often overestimated, radical skepticism has deep wounds caused by its tendency to eat himself.

If I suspect that we can't know anything true, why this assertion should be the only exception?

Thought cannot decide whether to trust itself or not. So, even if we can't properly refute skepticism, we can't also embrace it. In short: this sort of radical skepticism cannot be refuted because it cannot be stated; the radical skeptic parasites on our epistemological discussions raising objections to any claim to knowledge, without stating any thesis of their own. That's the only reason why their skepticism holds.

Sign up to join this community. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top. Home Questions Tags Users Unanswered. Can radical skepticism be refuted? Ask Question. Asked 2 years, 9 months ago. Active 1 year ago. Viewed 2k times. You're attempting to refute him from within your own system. You need to prove why his position is wrong, and you can't do that. For you those two statements are equivalent, for him nothing is equivalent. It's difficult to answer a question where you don't state the position you expect us to refute.

Critical examination of scepticism

Because it is true pretty much of any developed philosophy. Try refuting them and you'll quickly discover that you need premises which their proponents shrewdly rejected in advance. In this regard radical skepticism is the only position that presents no challenge at all, since radical skeptic asserts nothing there is nothing to refute. This is a really nice answer, but I want to note that the impracticality is characteristic of a really radical skepticism.

It's possible and often productive and I'm not saying you've implied otherwise to be skeptical in general, and people can have skeptical ontologies, metaphysics, epistemologies, etc. I suppose as a self proclaimed skeptic, if somebody told me to "taste this color", I'd probably return the favor by telling them to "sniff this sticker. I give Grayling four stars for this book, minus one for the showing off in the first few pages. This book is an important and useful discussion of the problems posed by skepticism. View 2 comments.

Skepticism (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)

Books like this are the philosophical equivalent of taking your coffee black. It's classic analytic philosophy consisting of rigorous argumentation, language analysis, massive paragraphs, and debates with positivism. In this book, A. Grayling, popularly unfortunately? He undertakes the task of demonstrating that, in response to the skeptic o Books like this are the philosophical equivalent of taking your coffee black. He undertakes the task of demonstrating that, in response to the skeptic of external reality, all discourse regarding our perceptual experience necessarily relies on a belief in some form of external reality.

While the book is a small one, consisting of less that pages, it packs in a pretty complex argument. Out of the four main chapters. Only two are directly concerned with Grayling's main argument and they cover the following material: Chapter 2 discusses Grayling's reply to skepticism via transcendental argument discussed below while chapter 3 anticipates the objections of relativism regarding his argument. His primary argument discussed in chapter 2 can be summarized as follows: Any statements about perceptual experience necessarily involves reference to the objects present in our experience.

Some philosophers such as A. Ayer have tried to argue against this point by pushing for a perceptual vocabulary free of ontological commitment. Grayling refutes this proposal by arguing that, while one can try to hedge ones way between statements about perceptual experience "I see a red ball. As Grayling notes regarding statements about the content of one's experience which, as noted, contain reference to objects , "Such an answer can only be given if the answerer is committed to belief in the existence of publicly accessible states of affairs in terms of which saying what the experience is like can be understood.

With these two claims under his belt, Grayling's final move is to show that the only way to use the same rules of warrant and justification for the identification of objects and thus have coherent experience is for one to assume that these rules apply independently of one's experience.

By demonstrating this, Grayling shows that the skeptical attack "You are unwarranted in saying you see a red ball. What the reader may have noticed assuming this is even a remotely readable summary of Grayling's rather complex argument , is that Grayling is not arguing that it is true that the external world exists. Rather, he is arguing that coherent experience necessarily presupposes the belief that the external world exists. This is all that Grayling needs to show in order to demonstrate that the skeptical argument fails.

There is no use doubting the existence of the external world because it is impossible to not believe in the existence of the external world. The next chapter of Grayling's book is dedicated to defending his argument against the attacks of relativism that seek to challenge the validity of his conceptual schema as a whole rather than the initial reply to skepticism. In it, he shows that any relevant conceptual schema will behave according to the same rules laid out in chapter two so a relativist reply is not successful. The Refutation of Skepticism was an extremely interesting book that dealt with a problem I have long struggled with in a satisfying way.

While I did feel that Grayling was somewhat inconsistent in his use of justification, I think his main argument was successful.

This book intrigued me and revitalized my interest in analytic philosophy of language. I recommend it to anyone who is looking for the same. Paul Vittay rated it liked it Feb 16, Jason Gordon marked it as to-read Nov 19, Eriol Tolkien Lofgeornost marked it as to-read Jul 27, Jerry Goodenough added it Aug 12, Nick Edwards marked it as to-read Feb 07, Grasped in Thought marked it as to-read Sep 04, Jay added it Nov 15, Roger marked it as to-read Mar 25, Louise Rolfe marked it as to-read Apr 07, Micah Cobb marked it as to-read Apr 09, Dave marked it as to-read Apr 17, Greta Villani marked it as to-read May 28, Tj Meagher marked it as to-read Nov 09, David added it Feb 23, Amanda Pavia marked it as to-read Oct 18, Taoufiq Hebboul marked it as to-read Nov 14, Solomon marked it as to-read Jan 26, Hailey marked it as to-read Apr 12, Devastatingwildness added it May 29, Jakob Klinkby is currently reading it Jun 07, Joyce marked it as to-read Jun 11, Todd marked it as to-read Aug 28, Alexandre marked it as to-read Dec 30, Alistair marked it as to-read Jan 16, David Kinsella marked it as to-read Feb 09, Tiago Faleiro added it Feb 10, Rubens Barros marked it as to-read Dec 19, Gor added it Jan 09, Lara Vural marked it as to-read Feb 15, There are no discussion topics on this book yet.

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