, Volume 35, Issue 2, pp 181–196 | Cite as

BonJour’s Abductivist Reply to Skepticism

  • James R. BeebeEmail author


The abductivist reply to skepticism is the view that commonsense explanations of the patterns and regularities that appear in our sensory experiences should be rationally preferred to skeptical explanations of those same patterns and regularities on the basis of explanatory considerations. In this article I critically examine Laurence BonJour’s rationalist version of the abductivist position. After explaining why BonJour’s account is more defensible than other versions of the view, I argue that the notion of probability he relies upon is deeply problematic, that he incorporates an implausible double-standard concerning a priori and a posteriori justification, and that his view is vulnerable to skepticism about the a priori. I suggest that some of these problems are due to idiosyncratic commitments BonJour makes and that abductivists would be better off without them. I conclude with some suggestions about how to improve BonJour’s abductivist response to skepticism.


Skepticism Abductivism Rationalism Inference to the best explanation BonJour 



I would like to thank two anonymous reviewers from Philosophia and audiences at the University at Buffalo and the 2006 meeting of the Society for Skeptical Studies for helpful comments and suggestions on earlier drafts of this paper.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophySUNY–BuffaloBuffaloUSA

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