Munich Center for Mathematical Philosophy (MCMP)

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Zoom Talk: Samir Okasha (Bristol)

Meeting-ID: 950 1039 5841

14.12.2022 16:00  – 18:00 

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Scepticism, evidential holism, and the logic of demonic deception


Sceptical arguments in epistemology typically employ sceptical hypotheses, which are rivals to our everyday beliefs so constructed that they fit exactly the evidence on which those beliefs are based. There are two ways of using a sceptical hypothesis to undermine an everyday belief, giving rise to two distinct sorts of sceptical argument: underdetermination-based and closure-based. However, both sorts of argument, as usually formulated in the literature, fall foul of evidential holism, for they ignore the crucial role of background beliefs. An analogy with the philosophy of science makes this point explicit. This leads to the question of whether it is possible to ''holism proof'' the sceptical arguments, and if so how. The answer turns out to be "not entirely". This has significant implications for how we should understand the threat posed by scepticism.