Discussion Note: McCain on Weak Predictivism and External World Scepticism
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- Harker, D.W. Philosophia (2013) 41: 195. doi:10.1007/s11406-012-9409-y
In a recent paper McCain (2012) argues that weak predictivism creates an important challenge for external world scepticism. McCain regards weak predictivism as uncontroversial and assumes the thesis within his argument. There is a sense in which the predictivist literature supports his conviction that weak predictivism is uncontroversial. This absence of controversy, however, is a product of significant plasticity within the thesis, which renders McCain’s argument worryingly vague. For McCain’s argument to work he either needs a stronger version of weak predictivism than has been defended within the literature, or must commit to a more precise formulation of the thesis and argue that weak predictivism, so understood, creates the challenge to scepticism that he hopes to achieve. The difficulty with the former is that weak predictivism is not uncontroversial in the respect that McCain’s argument would require. I consider the prospects of saving McCain’s argument by committing to a particular version of weak predictivism, but find them unpromising for several reasons.