Synthese

, Volume 188, Issue 2, pp 197–215

Epistemic closure, skepticism and defeasibility

Article

Abstract

Those of us who have followed Fred Dretske’s lead with regard to epistemic closure and its impact on skepticism have been half-wrong for the last four decades. But those who have opposed our Dretskean stance, contextualists in particular, have been just wrong. We have been half-right. Dretske rightly claimed that epistemic status is not closed under logical implication. Unlike the Dretskean cases, the new counterexamples to closure offered here render every form of contextualist pro-closure maneuvering useless. But there is a way of going wrong under Dretske’s lead. As the paper argues, Cartesian skepticism thrives on closure failure in a way that is yet to be acknowledged in the literature. The skeptic can make do with principles which are weaker than the familiar closure principles. But I will further claim that this is only a momentary reprieve for the skeptic. As it turns out, one of the weaker principles on which a skeptical modus tollens must rest can be shown false.

Keywords

Epistemic closure Deductive closure Skepticism Defeasibility Contextualism Epistemology of reasoning Fred Dretske Peter Klein 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Pontifical Catholic University of Rio Grande do Sul [PUCRS]Porto AlegreBrazil

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