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Multi-Path vs. Single-Path Replies to Skepticism

Abstract

In order to reply to the contemporary skeptic’s argument for the conclusion that we don’t have any empirical knowledge about the external world, several authors have proposed different fallibilist theories of knowledge that reject the epistemic closure principle. Holliday (Journal of Philosophical Logic, 44(1), 1–62 2015a), however, shows that almost all of them suffer from either the problem of containment or the problem of vacuous knowledge or both. Furthermore, Holliday (2015b) suggests that the fallibilist should allow a proposition to have multiple sets of relevant alternatives, each of which is sufficient while none is necessary, if all its members are eliminated, for knowing that proposition. Not completely satisfied with Holliday’s multi-path reply to the skeptic, the author suggests a new single-path relevant-possibility theory of knowledge and argues that it can avoid both the problem of containment and the problem of vacuous knowledge of a certain sort while rejecting skepticism about the external world.

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Correspondence to Wen-fang Wang.

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I would like to thank my colleage Liang Fei at Institute of Concept and Reasoning, Shandong University, China, for helping me to prepare the diagrams contained in the paper. This paper is fully supported by “Shandong University International Scientific Cooperation Seed Fund” (11090089395416)

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Wang, Wf. Multi-Path vs. Single-Path Replies to Skepticism. J Philos Logic 51, 383–412 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10992-021-09635-3

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10992-021-09635-3

Keywords

  • Skepticism
  • Relevant-alternative theory
  • Fallibilism
  • The epistemic closure principle