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Philosophical Studies

, Volume 174, Issue 5, pp 1299–1321 | Cite as

How to undercut radical skepticism

  • Santiago Echeverri
Article
  • 303 Downloads

Abstract

Radical skepticism relies on the hypothesis that one could be completely cut off from the external world. In this paper, I argue that this hypothesis can be rationally motivated by means of a conceivability argument. Subsequently, I submit that this conceivability argument does not furnish a good reason to believe that one could be completely cut off from the external world. To this end, I show that we cannot adequately conceive scenarios that verify the radical skeptical hypothesis. Attempts to do so fall prey to one or another of three pitfalls: they end up incomplete, reveal a deep contradiction or recreate a non-skeptical hypothesis. I use these results to improve upon Pritchard’s (Epistemological disjunctivism. Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2012; Epistemic angst: radical scepticism and the groundlessness of our believing, Princeton University Press, Princeton, 2016) recent attempt at undercutting radical skepticism.

Keywords

Radical skepticism Modal epistemology Epistemology of perception Imagination 

Notes

Acknowledgments

I am indebted to Margherita Arcangeli for instructive conversations on the nature of imagination and to Pierre Saint-Germier, whose PhD thesis on the structure of conceivability arguments enabled me to clarify a number of points. I would also like to thank an anonymous referee for useful comments on an earlier draft of this paper. This work was funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation (Research Grant No. 100012-150265/1).

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Département de PhilosophieUniversité de GenèveGenevaSwitzerland

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