Skepticism is a tool. A useful tool for dealing with many misinformation and half truths.

However, like all tools, it has its strong and weak sides.

In which areas of philosophical thinking is hardcore skepticism a liability rather than an asset?


2 Answers 2


A true skeptic would be skeptical of the existence of any limits, as they would be of the lack of limits.

Not very helpful, is it?

Skepticism itself does not define any natural line to draw where we say "that's skeptical enough." However, one may consider the reasonable case where one has some value function with which to evaluate the value of different actions. Such a function, if one existed, would naturally interact with skepticism if skepticism required any action (if one believes neurons exist, that action may include the burning of glucose).

At some point acting on skepticism may provably lead to a world which is worse than if the skeptic engaged in abduction, choosing to believe the most likely hypothesis is in fact true. At that point, one's value function (if one exists) would lead one to choose to not engage in skepticism.

Taking my skeptic's hat off, I'd like to point out that hardcore skepticism makes communication difficult. Just look at how many obtuse wordings I had to put into the previous paragraphs. Then rip those paragraphs apart and realize how many assumptions I made where I could have been more skeptical. Skepticism tends to lead itself down rabbit holes that are difficult to communicate to others. So, if your definition of "should" includes the ability to communicate with others, tempering skepticism is recommended.


"ism"s are commonly not tools but ideological trends: liberalism, buddhism, materialism, etc. Skepticism has several flavours. Anyway, let's talk about being skeptical.

It's probably a fallacy to ask others what to believe.

Maybe a simple rule would be to be skeptical to subjective knowledge (personal, religious, metaphysical ideas) and more open to objective knowledge.

But again, this can be another trap: how to know what is subjective and what is not? The majority could be wrong (argumentum ad populum), for example, 84% of people have religious beliefs[1], but religion is considered a subjective issue by excellence. Majority, authority, trending are not definition elements.

Then, the best judgment about being skeptical comes probably from improving education, to develop a critical thinking. In the meantime, being skeptical (even to this answer) is not a bad idea.

[1] http://www.age-of-the-sage.org/mysticism/world_religions_populations.html

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