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Putting Skeptics in their Place : The Nature of Skeptical Arguments and Their Role in Philosophical Inquiry

by John Greco, Ernest Sosa, Jonathan Dancy, etc.

Buy the book: John Greco. Putting Skeptics in their Place : The Nature of Skeptical Arguments and Their Role in Philosophical Inquiry

Release Date: 22 May, 2000

Edition: Hardcover


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Buy the book: John Greco. Putting Skeptics in their Place : The Nature of Skeptical Arguments and Their Role in Philosophical Inquiry

On Taking Skepticism Seriously

John Greco describes at the beginning of his book an event where he offered a paper on skepticism to his faculty members at Fordham. Several of his colleagues wondered why he even bothered with skepticism; there are no real skeptics; hasn't it been refuted(?); if it can't, let's just get on with more important things.

Greco argues that taking skepticism seriously has the positive result of informing a positive account of knowledge. Skepticism should not be the main or even a driving force for doing epistemology; but it is nevertheless something that should be considered in order to do epistemology correctly. That is, there are important lessons from skeptical arguments in the analysis of knowledge.

Greco presents constructions from Hume and Descartes as such skeptical arguments. He then considers responses to these type of constructions: dismissive responses (e.g., the skeptic is inconsistent) which do not engage skeptical arguments at all, and superficial responses (e.g., skepticism relies on the theory of ideas or bad ontology or epistemological realism) that are simply misguided because skeptical arguments can be constructed without these assumptions. When properly examining skepticism, we will be forced to accept something called agent-reliabilism (versions elsewhere advocated by Ernest Sosa and Alvin Plantinga) coupled with virtue epistemology.

Even though I have some doubts about the overall success of dealing with the skeptic in this book, particularly with regard to his use of the relevant-reasons response, I think this book is very nicely written (e.g., clear) and overall is quite informative; I also think his comments about contextualism and foundationalism are insightful for other contemporary debates. For a book symposium on this with Greco, Stewart Cohen, Doug Geivett, Jonathan Kvanvig, and Reza Lahroodi, see Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, Vol. LXVI, No. 2 (March 2003): 432-480.

From Amazon.com

skeptics, go home!

Skepticism has been a companion to philosophical enquiry. Socrates favorite strategy was to attract his opponent favor by friendly talk, slowly leading him to expose his weak points to a sharp and restless skeptic attack. when asked to make a point, he always hid behind a now famous confession of ignorance.Rhis reminds us of the nature of early philosophical practice, a search for truth with skeptical tools. Plato, the first dogmatic, followed his mentor,s skeptical way of enquiry. Plato,s academy clearly didn,t inherit its founder,s doctrine. It ended up in skeptical doubt rather than in a temple to worship, say, the Sunlight of truth. Could it be possible that the skeptic wins them all. Since the early Greek days, philosophical enquiry has been an atempt to deal with the skeptical challenge, either by facing it in open field of arguments on foundations, or by ignoringit by walking on the safe path of nature. Author J.Greco is in fine company:the whole philosophers team backs his attempt to put the skeptic in his place. Amd wishes him luck this time!

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