Klein, Skepticism, Epistemic Closure, and Evidential Underdetermination

  • Claudio de Almeida
Part of the Synthese Library book series (SYLI, volume 404)


The effort to understand Peter D. Klein’s work on (so-called) Cartesian skepticism is simply not optional to anyone wishing to become familiar with state-of-the-art scholarship on the problem. Nearly four decades ago, Klein developed the invariantist pro-closure response to Fred Dretske’s counterexamples to epistemic closure principles, thus stealing some of the thunder from the nascent, Dretske-inspired contextualist views in epistemology. Since then, he’s added important theoretical elements to his analysis of the central problem of our debate about skepticism and closure: the problem of how a closure defender might refute the Cartesian skeptic without turning into a purveyor of ‘easy knowledge.’ According to Klein, “a proper understanding of closure shows that the [Cartesian] skeptic cannot provide a good argument for her view and helps to show that there is no genuine problem of easy knowledge” (see “Closure Matters: Academic Skepticism and Easy Knowledge” 2004). Indeed, inattention to Klein’s work accounts for some of the most important fallacies perpetrated in the recent literature on epistemic principles that may be of use to the skeptic. Still, on close inspection, Klein’s case against Cartesian skepticism proves optimistic. The chapter briefly reviews the main features of 34 years of Klein’s work on the problem in 15 publications, from his 1981 book on Certainty to his 2015 Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy entry “Skepticism”. It finds that his case against the skeptic is a distinctive mixture of Mooreanism and Russellianism and concludes that none of his main objections to Cartesian skepticism is tenable.


Pyrrhonian skepticism Cartesian skepticism Evidential underdetermination Epistemic closure Klein Brueckner Skeptical argument Mooreanism Epistemology 


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Authors and Affiliations

  • Claudio de Almeida
    • 1
  1. 1.Pontifical Catholic University of Rio Grande do SulPorto AlegreBrazil

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