Synthese

, Volume 175, Supplement 1, pp 63–88 | Cite as

Information, possible worlds and the cooptation of scepticism

Article

Abstract

The article investigates the sceptical challenge from an information-theoretic perspective. Its main goal is to articulate and defend the view that either informational scepticism is radical, but then it is epistemologically innocuous because redundant; or it is moderate, but then epistemologically beneficial because useful. In order to pursue this cooptation strategy, the article is divided into seven sections. Section 1 sets up the problem. Section 2 introduces Borel numbers as a convenient way to refer uniformly to (the data that individuate) different possible worlds. Section 3 adopts the Hamming distance between Borel numbers as a metric to calculate the distance between possible worlds. In Sects. 4 and 5, radical and moderate informational scepticism are analysed using Borel numbers and Hamming distances, and shown to be either harmless (extreme form) or actually fruitful (moderate form). Section 6 further clarifies the approach by replying to some potential objections. In the conclusion, the Peircean nature of the overall approach is briefly discussed.

Keywords

Borel numbers Hamming distance Informational scepticism David Lewis Levenshtein distance Modal metrics Philosophy of information Possible worlds Scepticism Semantic information 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of HertfordshireHatfieldUK
  2. 2.Faculty of Philosophy and IEGUniversity of OxfordOxfordUK

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