It seems obvious to me that after glancing at my watch I "know" what time it is. But this apparent "knowledge" can be explained away by infinitely many skeptical hypotheses. Perhaps I mistook the time. Maybe I was hallucinating and therefore some other incorrect time appeared on my watch. It is possible that I never glanced at my watch at all, and that my memory was fooled by some trick. How, then, do I "know" the time? Sure, I can go back and check. But there will always be infinitely many skeptical hypotheses that will prevent me from being "truly justified"—whatever that means.

So how do we justify our beliefs? It seems obvious that we do in fact "know" things, but how? The only escape I can see is pragmatism. I can continue to act in acceptance of a given hypothesis, and as long as it does not turn out false life goes on. But this isn't really a justification. What answer have philosophers put forth, here?

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    Does this answer your question? Can radical skepticism be refuted?
    – Mr. White
    Jul 27, 2020 at 15:29
  • Many epistemologists think that certainty is a red-herring. Knowledge is way more dynamic that we once thought. As long as you proportion your confidence levels on the evidence you are being, by definition, rational (ratio = proportion). Also, in order to create any kind of edifice of knowledge we need more reasonable standards than coercive deductive certainty. Suggested reading: Human Knowledge: Its Scope and Limits by Bertrand Russel.
    – urhen
    Jul 27, 2020 at 16:53
  • This issue is addressed by DeRose in Solving the Skeptical Problem. Long story short: the standards of justification differ depending on the nature of the knowledge claims. They are much lower for ordinary claims ("I have two hands"), or even scientific claims, than for grand metaphysical ones, like refuting the skeptical hypotheses. As a result, we do not need to refute skeptical hypotheses to justify ordinary or scientific beliefs. Put another way, ordinary knowledge claims are justified, in a sense, even if the skeptical hypotheses hold.
    – Conifold
    Jul 27, 2020 at 20:36
  • Why "Cartesian skepticism" ? Descartes were not skeptic at all: the "doubt" was only an argument: a sort of thought experiment. Jul 28, 2020 at 9:56
  • "What answer have philosophers put forth ?" Many many many... See history of philosophy, at least from Plato on. Jul 28, 2020 at 9:57


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