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In Thomas Nagel's article "The Absurd", there's this note:

I am aware that skepticism about the external world is widely thought to have been refuted, but I have remained convinced of its irrefutability since being exposed at Berkeley to Thompson Clarke's largely unpublished ideas on subject. (p. 723)

I have two questions:

  1. Whose - or what - idea is Nagel referring to when he says that skepticism about the external world is thought to have been refuted?
  2. Were those Thompson Clarke's ideas published later? Where can I read about them? I have "The Legacy of Skepticism" on queue to read, but I'll appreciate if someone gives me more specific recommendations.
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I picked these pearls of texts Clark and Nagel:

Clark
We are forced wine tasters of the conceivable. Acknowledging this, I feel condent, nevertheless, that it is inconceivable that I could now be asleep, dreaming, if no outsider could know my real environs because in the same boat, for the same reason, because he, too, could not know he was not asleep, dreaming. Does Descartess possibility even seem to make sense, if we ask ourselves how the Evil Demon, or God, could know that he, too, wasn't dreaming and allow that neither could?

[…] Skepticism frees us from antiquated problems, including itself, offering us a new, challenging problem.[...] Skepticism leaves us the problem of the plain, of its structure, the character and source of its relative “non-objectivity,” and one major tool for unlocking its secrets, the plain skeptical possibilities. How radically that structure must differ from the standard type, if capable of permitting concepts with the characteristics of Dream to be concepts, and the plain skeptical possibilities to be possibilities, is evident enough.[...]

Nagel
[...]The certainty that we are not dreaming cannot be justified except circularly, in terms of those very appearances which are being put in doubt. It is somewhat far-fetched to suggest I may be dreaming; but the possibility is only illustrative. It reveals that our claims to knowledge depend on our not feeling it necessary to exclude certain incompatible alternatives, and the dreaming possibility or the total-hallucination possibility are just representatives for limitless possibilities most of which we cannot even conceive.

I am aware that skepticism about the external world is widely thought to have been refuted, but 1 have remained convinced of its irrefutability since being exposed at Berkeley to Thompson Clarke's largely unpublished ideas on the subject.

In 1971 Nagel is probably referring to the supposed refutation of skepticism by Moore. What Nagel and Clarke are saying is that Moore's arguments only prove that common sense is a possible way of describing the world, and they say that other forms are possible and incompatible. Hence the skeptic instead of asking how I justify that common sense is correct, he ask now how to know which among the possible ways of describing the world is the correct one.
I personally don't like the skeptic's refutation of Moore, but the refutation via semantic externalism.
I don't know Thompson Clarke's references.

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