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Lecture 15

Lecture 15 - Skeptical arguments

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Daniel Kofman

Nov. 5, 2013  Any view of how our beliefs hang together is a view of skepticism – how they are justified together  Beliefs aspire to knowledge  When we say our beliefs hang together, it means they have a justificatory relation  Foundationalism is an answer to this relation  What foundationalism claims and its approach to skepticism 1. Two classical skeptical arguments: argument from error, and arguments from regress -you might be in error, but how could you know if you were in error? -regress – what justifies your belief. Inferred – how do you know that? Problem – infinite regress “ultimate answer” 2. Foundationalism: there is some ultimate or basic level of beliefs which are justified non- inferentially. Aristotle: two kinds of justified beliefs: self-evident and evidently inferred.  Foundationalism especially motivated to answer arguments from regress: there is a stopping point  But also typically takes into account the argument from err, by making phenomenal experience the stopping point. Thus, not: it looks like there’ a brown table, where ‘looks like’ implies a view of how things out there actually are, but: I am having the sensation of brownness, of a certain shape and surface texture. No commitment to…  Both rationalist foundationalists and empirical foundationalists locate the self-evident in the mind 3. The foundational beliefs: non-inferential, self-evident, self-justifying, indubitable (Dancy – “infallible”)  Kant: “the Given”  Sellars (and Quine): “The Myth of the Given” – he rejects foundationalism; you can’t have a private language (contrary to what the empiricists thought) – depends on the public agreement of linguistic terms  Having a sensation vs. having a belief about that sensation (propositional – employs concepts)  Sellars and Quine reject even the view that propositional knowledge about mental states is self-evident.  Sellars: difference between having a sensation and having a justified belief that one is having it  More often, critics reject possibility of moving from sensations to justified beliefs
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