ISBN-10:
069101115X
ISBN-13:
9780691011158
Pub. Date:
12/22/1995
Publisher:
Princeton University Press
Unnatural Doubts: Epistemological Realism and the Basis of Skepticism

Unnatural Doubts: Epistemological Realism and the Basis of Skepticism

by Michael Williams, Princeton Univ Pr

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780691011158
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Publication date: 12/22/1995
Pages: 410
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.25(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Michael Williams is Morrison Professor of Humanities and Professor of Philosophy at Northwestern University. He is the author of Groundless Beliefs.

Table of Contents

Contents

Preface xii

I Pessimism in Epistemology I

1.1 Unnatural Doubts? 1

1.2 Philosophy versus Common Life 2

1.3 The New Humeans 10

1.4 The Epistemologist's Dilemma 17

1.5 Unusual Questions 22

1.6 Definitive Refutation 31

1.7 The Burden of Theory 40

2 The Priority of Experience 47

2.1 Epistemology and Radical Scepticism 47

2.2 Scepticism and Epistemological Priority 51

2.3 Presupposition or By-product? 57

2.4 Agrippa's Trilemma 60

2.5 Knowledge and the Senses 68

2.6 The Neutrality of Experience 73

2.7 Sceptical Hypotheses 79

2.8 Dreaming and Knowing 84

3 Epistemological Realism 89

3.1 Generality and Epistemic Priority 89

3.2 Externalism and Traditional Epistemology 93

3.3 Knowledge as an Object of Theory 101

3.4 Explanation or Deflation?

3.5 Foundationalism 114

3.6 Methodological Necessity 121

3.7 Priority Reconsidered 125

3.8 Scepticism in Context 129

4 Examples and Paradigms

4.1 The Best-case Argument

4.2 Knowledge by Example

4.3 Generic and Specific

4.4 Knowing and Claiming

4.5 The Scope of Knowledge

4.6 Examples and Paradigms 161

4.7 Ordinary Language and Philosophical Diagnosis 166

5 Scepticism and Reflection 172

5.1 Philosophy as Reflective Understanding 172

5.2 Diagnosis and Disappointment 175

5.3 Reflection and Detachment 18

5.4 Relevant Alternatives and Epistemic Closure 185

5.5 The Two-factor Theory 191

5.6 Error and Estrangement 201

5.7 Practical Knowledge and Radical Doubt 205

5.8 Epistemology as Pure Inquiry 211

5.9 The Unreality of Knowledge 218

6 Scepticism and Objectivity 225

6.1 Realism and Scepticism 225

6.2 Truth and justification 228

6.3 Scepticism without Truth 237

6.4 Objectivity and Progress 217

6.5 Epistemology Naturalized 4

6.6 Truth and Context

7 Coherence and Truth

7.1 What is a Coherence Theory? 267

7.2 Radical Holism 267

7.3 Coherence and Explanation 272

7.4 Local and Global 279

7.5 Internalism and Epistemic Priority 292

7.6 Criterial justification 299

7.7 Scepticism and Charity 306

8 The Instability of Knowledge 317

8.1 Closure Again 317

8.2 Knowledge and Reliability 318

8.3 Context and Closure 322

8.4 Knowing and Telling 326

8.5 Relevant Alternatives 330

8.6 Tracking the Truth 336

8.7 Closure Regained 346

8.8 The Instability of Knowledge 350

8.9 The Humean Condition 355

Notes 360

Index 383

What People are Saying About This

Williams makes a good case for the view that skepticism as it is usually presented and defended is not a presuppositionless doctrine. He argues compellingly that if we examine its presuppositions, then quite often the case made for epistemological skepticism loses much of its persuasiveness. These points are well worth considering and discussing.

Richard Rorty

Exceptionally well-argued. . . . Williams's Unnatural Doubts is a major contribution to epistemology—or, rather, to the discussion of the possibility of epistemology. It includes some excellent discussions of Nozick, Dretske, Davidson, and other important contemporary philosophers.

Ernest Sosa

Williams makes a good case for the view that skepticism as it is usually presented and defended is not a presuppositionless doctrine. He argues compellingly that if we examine its presuppositions, then quite often the case made for epistemological skepticism loses much of its persuasiveness. These points are well worth considering and discussing.

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