Essay about Skepticism About a Refutation of Skepticism

2841 Words Aug 26th, 2011 12 Pages
“Skepticism about a Refutation of Skepticism”

In “The Refutation of Skepticism”, Jonathan Vogel establishes an “Inference to the Best Explanation” (hereafter, “IBE”) as a means to refute skepticism about the external world. In this refutation, Vogel acknowledges that skepticism about IBE still remains a possibility, but that this kind of skepticism would be rather outlandish in character and thus could be ignored. This paper shall both establish and evaluate Vogel’s reasoning as to why he confidently dismisses any skepticism pertaining to his IBE, and furthermore will illuminate some points as to why Vogel may have mischaracterized potential threats to his method, leaving his refutation of skepticism vulnerable to doubt that is not as
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As mentioned earlier, IBE is solely a refutation of “domestic skepticism” – what Vogel sees as the only legitimate threat to our knowledge, because it utilizes our epistemic principles as a means to undermine our concept of what knowledge is and show that we truly lack knowledge of anything in our world. He acknowledges some potential skeptical criticisms that remain regarding the methodology of IBE, and admits that he is unable to provide any refutations for these – thus he does not argue directly for IBE’s validity, as much as entertain it as a plausible inference for best refuting skepticism. Yet he also discusses the existence of a broader form of skepticism - which he terms “exotic skepticism”, that aims to challenge both our ordinary knowledge claims and the legitimacy of our epistemic principles used to make any of these judgments - but quickly dismisses this type of doubt as anything worthy of our attention, due to its apparently outlandish, radical nature. With the intention of upholding IBE’s status as a successful refutation of skepticism (in theory, at least), Vogel concludes that any skepticism about IBE itself cannot be refuted, but also needn’t be. This is because of how he connects IBE with induction - meaning that any kind of skepticism about IBE would also undoubtedly be skepticism about induction in general, which appears to be a significant part of our mental lives and is therefore considered a generally

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