Philosophical Studies

, Volume 176, Issue 4, pp 879–896 | Cite as

The ordinary language argument against skepticism—pragmatized

  • Sinan Dogramaci


I develop a new version of the ordinary language response to skepticism. My version is based on premises about the practical functions served by our epistemic words. I end by exploring how my argument against skepticism is interestingly non-circular and philosophically valuable.


Skepticism Ordinary language Function Ambitious anti-skeptical project 



For their help with this paper I’d like to thank audiences at Arizona State University, Georgia State University, the University of Miami, the University of Nebraska, TEX (the Texas Epistemology Xtravaganza), and the 2018 Pacific APA where Jennifer Nagel gave valuable comments. I’m especially grateful to Yuval Avnur for extensive discussions about the ordinary language argument.


  1. Austin, J. L. (1946/1961). Other minds. In J. O. Urmson & G. J. Warnock (Eds.), Philosophical papers (pp. 76–116). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  2. Avnur, Y. (ms.). Justification as a loaded notion.Google Scholar
  3. Boghossian, P. (1996). Analyticity reconsidered. Nous, 30(3), 369–392.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Cheney, D., & Seyfarth, R. (1990). How monkeys see the world: Inside the mind of another species. Chicago: Chicago University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Craig, E. (1990). Knowledge and the state of nature. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  6. DeRose, K. (2000). How can we know that we’re not brains in vats? The Southern Journal of Philosophy, 38(Supplement), 121–148.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Dogramaci, S. (2012). Reverse engineering epistemic evaluations. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 84(3), 513–530.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Dogramaci, S. (2015a). Communist conventions for deductive reasoning. Nous, 49(4), 776–799.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Dogramaci, S. (2015b). Forget and forgive: A practical approach to forgotten evidence. Ergo, 2(26), 645–677.Google Scholar
  10. Dogramaci, S., & Horowitz, S. (2016). An argument for uniqueness about evidential support. Philosophical Issues, 26, 130–147.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Dretske, F. (1970). Epistemic operators. The Journal of Philosophy, 67(24), 1007–1023.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Fricker, M. (2007). Epistemic injustice: Power and the ethics of knowing. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Fricker, M. (2008). Scepticism and the genealogy of knowledge: Situating epistemology in time. Philosophical Papers, 37(1), 27–50.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Gardiner, G. (2015). Teleologies and the methodology of epistemology. In D. Henderson & J. Greco (Eds.), Epistemic evaluation: Purposeful epistemology (pp. 31–45). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  15. Greco, D., & Hedden, B. (2016). Uniqueness and metaepistemology. The Journal of Philosophy, 113(8), 365–395.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Hannon, M. (forthcoming). What’s the point of knowledge? Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  17. Henderson, D. (2011). Gate-keeping contextualism. Episteme, 8(1), 83–98.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Hookway, C. (2016). Pragmatism. In E. Zalta (Ed.), The Stanford encyclopedia of philosophy.
  19. Kaplan, M. (2008). Austin’s way with skepticism. In J. Greco (Ed.), The Oxford companion to skepticism (pp. 348–371). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  20. Kornblith, H. (2002). Knowledge and its place in nature. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Kotzen, M. (2012). Dragging and confirming. The Philosophical Review, 121(1), 55–93.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Lewis, D. (1969). Convention: A philosophical study. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  23. Malcolm, N. (1942). Moore and ordinary language. In P. A. Schilpp (Ed.), The philosophy of G. E. Moore (Vol. 1, pp. 343–368). La Salle, IL: Open Court.Google Scholar
  24. Miller, B. (2016). How to be a Bayesian dogmatist. Australasian Journal of Philosophy, 94(4), 766–780.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Millikan, R. G. (1984). Language, thought and other biological categories. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  26. Nagel, J. (2013). Knowledge as a mental state. Oxford Studies in Epistemology, 4, 273–308.Google Scholar
  27. Neander, K. (1991). The teleological notion of ‘function’. Australasian Journal of Philosophy, 69(4), 454–468.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Pryor, J. (2000). The skeptic and the dogmatist. Nous, 34(4), 517–549.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Pryor, J. (2004). What’s wrong with Moore’s argument? Philosophical Issues, 14, 349–378.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Reynolds, S. (2017). Knowledge as acceptable testimony. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Rinard, S. (forthcoming). Reasoning one’s way out of skepticism. In K. McCain & T. Poston (Eds.), The mystery of skepticism. Leiden: Brill.Google Scholar
  32. Salmon, W. (1957). Should we attempt to justify induction? Philosophical Studies, 8(3), 33–48.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Skyrms, B. (2010). Signals: Evolution, learning, and information. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Soames, S. (2003). Philosophical analysis in the twentieth century, volume 2: The age of meaning. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  35. Sober, E. (2000). The philosophy of biology (2nd ed.). Boulder: Westview.Google Scholar
  36. Strawson, P. F. (1952). Introduction to logical theory. London: Methuen.Google Scholar
  37. Stroud, B. (1984). The significance of philosophical scepticism. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Vogel, J. (1990). Cartesian skepticism and inference to the best explanation. The Journal of Philosophy, 87(11), 658–666.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. von Frisch, K. (1967). The dance language and orientation of the bees. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  40. White, R. (2006). Problems for dogmatism. Philosophical Studies, 131, 525–557.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Williamson, T. (2000). Knowledge and its limits. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  42. Wright, L. (1976). Teleological explanations. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  43. Wright, C. (2004). Warrant for nothing (and foundations for free)? Aristotelian Society Supplementary, 78(1), 167–212.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sinan Dogramaci
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyThe University of Texas at AustinAustinUSA

Personalised recommendations