Analysis Of Stroud's The Problem Of The External World

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Stroud’s aim in his work, “The Problem of the External World”, is to assess whether or not skepticism of the eternal world is correct through his analysis of Descartes, and provide supporting arguments for this assessment. Stroud concludes that skepticism of the external world cannot be successfully undermined, stating, “The only answer to the question as it is meant to be understood is that we can know nothing about the world around us”(Stroud).
The empirical skeptic’s claim is that one cannot have knowledge of the external world. The external world is the physical world which one perceives and generally assumes to exist beyond one’s own mind. Cannot is an expression of a conceptual impossibility, since it is neither physically impossible
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At times, things can seem to be things that they are not. One’s senses can be mislead, leading to a false perceptual belief being held. If all empirical propositions are the result of sensory perception, and sensory perception can be deceived into holding false perceptual beliefs, then should one believe any empirical proposition? In other words, can one know something if it is possible they are wrong about it? Stroud’s responds by asserting that fallibility does not preclude one’s possession of knowledge if it is possible to detect how one’s sensory perception is being misled. If one can identify the conditions under which their sensory perceptions are misleading, then they can use reason and conversation to correct for the errors that would otherwise arise if they uncritically trusted their senses. But what if one cannot detect how their sensory perception is being …show more content…
Since there is a conceptual possibility that one’s sensory perception is the result of them dreaming, and it is impossible to know whether or not one is dreaming, then one cannot know their sensory perception is true under the weak exclusion principle as it necessitates being able to prove the falsity of the incompatible proposition that one is asleep in a dream. If one cannot know that their sensory perception is true, and all empirical propositions regarding the external world are based in sensory perception, then one cannot have knowledge about the external

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