, Volume 34, Issue 4, pp 453-464

First online:

The Impossibility of Local Skepticism

  • Stephen MaitzenAffiliated withDepartment of Philosophy, Acadia University Email author 

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According to global skepticism, we know nothing. According to local skepticism, we know nothing in some particular area or domain of discourse. Unlike their global counterparts, local skeptics think they can contain our invincible ignorance within limited bounds. I argue that they are mistaken. Local skepticism, particularly the kinds that most often get defended, cannot stay local: if there are domains whose truths we cannot know, then there must be claims outside those domains that we cannot know even if they are true. My argument focuses on one popular form of local skepticism, ethical skepticism, but I believe that the argument generalizes to cover other forms as well.


Epistemology Skepticism Knowledge Local skepticism Nihilism Ethical skepticism Epistemic closure Philosophical taxonomy Charles Landesman Barry Stroud