Lecture 1 - Scepticism

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Published on 6 Jan 2015
School
UTSG
Department
Philosophy
Course
PHL232H1
Professor
PHL232 Knowledge and Reality
Lecture 1 – Scepticism
What is scepticism?
- Scepticism about a given class of propositions is the view that where p is a statement in the class and S is
thinking subject, the claim “S knows that p” is always false
- examples of scepticism
scepticism about the world outside the mind – “external world scepticism”
- p itself is not false, but the statement about p is false
scepticism about our own mental states
scepticism about the laws of logic
- the claim to know the laws is false
- not saying that the laws themselves are false
- main focus will be on external world scepticism
- main question to ask is “to what extent does what we are saying here about external world scepticism apply
to scepticism of other kinds?”
Why is scepticism interesting?
- philosophers interested in scepticism are not usually sceptics themselves
- interest in the nature of knowledge
- scepticism provides a challenge that an adequate account of knowledge must be able to overcome
- challenge the “right account” about the nature of knowledge
- knowledge – to know what this is you must know the right response by a skeptic would be
- sceptical challenge arises because of the apparent plausibility of arguments
Sceptical Hypotheses
- sceptical hypothesis – a hypothesis whose truth entails the truth of scepticism about some class of
propositions
- attempt to obtain a more precise idea of thought such that you can create a sceptical hypothesis
- sceptical hypotheses can be formulated
- “I don’t know that I’m not a brain in a vat. But if I don’t know I’m not a brain in a vat, I don’t know anything
about the external world. So I don’t know anything about the external world.”
- external world sceptic conclusion can be drawn – from sceptical hypothesis to sceptical conclusion
- from the conclusions you can formulate arguments
1. I know that if I am in a philosophy lecture then I am not a brain in a vat.
2. I do not know that I am not a brain in a vat.
3. Premise 1 entails that if I know I am in a philosophy lecture then I know I am not a brain in a vat.
4. If I know that I am in a philosophy lecture then I know I am not a brain in a vat (premise 1 and 3).
5. I do not know that I am in a philosophy lecture (premise 2 and 4).
- general form of argument looks like this:
1. I know that if p then q
2. I do not know that q
3. if I know that p then q, then I know that p, I know that q
4. if I know that p then I know that p, I know that q
5. if I know that p then I know that q (from 1 and 3)
6. I do not know that p (from 2 and 4)
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Document Summary

Main focus will be on external world scepticism. Main question to ask is to what extent does what we are saying here about external world scepticism apply to scepticism of other kinds? . I don"t know that i"m not a brain in a vat. But if i don"t know i"m not a brain in a vat, i don"t know anything about the external world. So i don"t know anything about the external world. external world sceptic conclusion can be drawn from sceptical hypothesis to sceptical conclusion from the conclusions you can formulate arguments. I know that if i am in a philosophy lecture then i am not a brain in a vat. I do not know that i am not a brain in a vat. Premise 1 entails that if i know i am in a philosophy lecture then i know i am not a brain in a vat.

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