This book introduces students and other interested readers to the philosophical study of skepticism, a central and long-standing subject in philosophy. The first three chapters cover knowledge, providing the necessary foundation for introducing skepticism in the book's final three chapters. Throughout, the volume addresses basic questions in these two areas, such as:
- What are the differences between the three types of knowledge: direct knowledge, knowledge by ability, and propositional knowledge?
- What is the Gettier problem and why does it resist easy solutions?
- Why do philosophers still talk about René Descartes’ techniques for raising doubts about what we can know but have largely forgotten Descartes’ attempts to answer these doubts?
- How do we know that we’re not just brains in a vat?
- Is Pyrrhonian skepticism—the idea that we know absolutely nothing—ultimately self-refuting?
With a glossary of key terms and suggestions for further reading, Skepticism: The Basics is an ideal starting point for anyone seeking a lively and accessible foray into the study of epistemology.
Key Features and Benefits:
- Cover both traditional topics – like the tripartite conception of knowledge – and emerging issues, like knowledge-first epistemology and concessive responses to inductive skepticism
- Demystifies an area where beginners frequently get stuck: the difference between common-sense skepticism and philosophical skepticism
- Clearly explains the important contributions from historical and contemporary thinkers, like Descartes, Hume, Popper, Quine, Dretske, Strawson, Nozick, and Sosa
Table of Contents
Part I : Knowledge
1. Kinds of Knowledge
Introduction: Three kinds of knowledge
Intellectualism vs. Anti-Intellectualism about know-how
2. The Tripartite Conception of Knowledge
The Truth Condition
The Belief Condition
The Justification Condition
Theories of Justification: Internalism and Externalism
3. The Gettier Problem
In search of the fourth condition: no false lemmas
The replacement of the justification condition
The Gettier problem problem
Part II: Skepticism
4. Inductive Skepticism
The problem of induction
Can the principle of induction be justified a priori?
The Inductive Justification of Induction
The Pragmatic Justification of Induction
Popper’s Approach to the Problem of Induction
5. Cartesian Skepticism
The Master Argument for Cartesian Skepticism
The Closure Principle
Do we know that we are not brains in a vat?
6. Pyrrhonian Skepticism
Is Pyrrhonian skepticism self-refuting?
The Infinite Regress Argument
The rejection of premise 2: Foundationalism
The rejection of premise 6: Coherentism
The rejection of premise 5: Infinitism
The rejection of premise 7: Positism
Juan Comesaña is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Arizona. He has published in epistemology and related areas, including Being Rational and Being Right (Oxford UP, 2020).
Manuel Comesaña is Professor of Philosophy and Doctor of Philosophy and has been a Professor at the University of Mar del Plata in Argentina for the last thirty years. He has published articles in philosophy journals and book chapters, as well as the book Reason, Truth and Experience: An Analysis of Their Links in Contemporary Philosophy of Science, with Special Emphasis on Popper (UNMdP, 1996).
"This is a well-written, engaging overview of contemporary epistemology with a significant discussion of types of skepticism. An excellent option for an introductory level course, whether as a part of a larger introduction to philosophy or as an intro text to epistemology."
Ted Poston, University of Alabama