Questions tagged [skepticism]

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84 votes
20 answers
50k views

Could 'cogito ergo sum' possibly be false?

I've heard it postulated by some people that "we can't truly know anything". While that does seem to apply to the vast majority of things, I can't see how 'cogito ergo sum' can possibly be false. ...
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10 votes
5 answers
931 views

How far can/should one press philosophical doubt?

Should we keep on questioning until nothing is left to question or is there a point on which we need to stand (which we often tend to do)? Descartes used 'I think' as this fixed point where the ...
73 votes
12 answers
9k views

How can an uneducated but rational person differentiate between science and religion?

I recently found myself unable to respond to the statement "But the big bang theory is just another creation myth!" during a science vs. religion argument. I found it very difficult to explain the ...
18 votes
15 answers
7k views

Why is the Münchhausen trilemma an unsolved problem?

Why is the Münchhausen trilemma unsolved? Couldn't anybody find some reasons for proving/disproving it? Or are there other reasons for it being called "unsolved"? the trilemma If we ask of ...
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24 votes
12 answers
16k views

Are there any philosophical arguments to disprove or weaken solipsism?

My philosophy professor once told our class: The only people who believe in solipsism are infants and madmen. I was inclined to agree at the time. Yet years later, I have still not encountered any ...
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22 votes
5 answers
5k views

Is Skepticism the most rational standpoint?

Is Philosophical Skepticism - the one that advocates true knowledge is impossible, the most rational standpoint? I am asking this based on the observation that there are very few things whose ...
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10 votes
6 answers
2k views

Is there any counterexample given against radical skepticism?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radical_skepticism I am thinking that simple statement such as "I am", "I think" are all beliefs that are also knowledge and conditional statements ...
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4 votes
11 answers
1k views

Shouldn't fallibilism be a reason to abandon science?

The Wikipedia page on Fallibilism (currently) makes the intriguing claim that "Fallibilism is related to Pyrrhonistic Skepticism, in that Pyrrhonists of history are sometimes referred to as ...
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7 votes
6 answers
667 views

Philosophical assumptions underlying science

I am a medical student and have been interested lately in the foundations of the scientific research method I have been taught. I've read that there is in fact no such thing as a unique scientific ...
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2 votes
5 answers
644 views

How do philosophers respond to global skepticism?

I saw a video of a philosopher (Robert Audi) who said that common sense is the best response we can give to global skepticism. I would agree, but it's not clear to me what the nature of common sense ...
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21 votes
8 answers
12k views

Is 1+1=2 true by definition ?

Is 1+1=2 true by definition ? Or, is there a way to prove it? I'm trying to understand how do we know it's true, and how to reply if someone is skeptical or denies that 1+1=2.
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11 votes
8 answers
5k views

Is watching an amputated limb regrow proof of the supernatural?

A typical challenge skeptics present when confronted with claims of alleged miracles is "why won't God Heal amputees?". But, would that do the job? Consider the following thought experiment: ...
6 votes
3 answers
196 views

Do we cause words to mean things, or do words cause us to mean things?

This question occurred to me while reviewing a skeptical argument from Kripke regarding semantics: Suppose that I’ve never dealt with numbers larger than 57. (Given our finite nature and the ...
16 votes
4 answers
2k views

Does skepticism inevitably lead to ethical relativism?

In this question, I will make a slippery slope argument. It's probably fallacious, but your task is the identify the point where one step does not inevitablly lead to the next step and explain why ...
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14 votes
6 answers
2k views

"I trust my senses" — Why does this tend to be restricted to the external senses?

I routinely come across mini-epistemologies that start with something like: Cogito ergo sum. (presupposes "I", oops!) My senses are sufficiently reliable. These days, it is often admitted that we ...
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9 votes
6 answers
876 views

Claims that we know (virtually) nothing - can they be refuted?

Here's an argument that I've heard a number of times from friends and on the Internet: "The ratio of what we know about the universe to what we have yet to discover is so small - it is therefore ...
6 votes
1 answer
170 views

How are the assumptions underlying logic chosen?

Logic works based on certain assumptions about its rules. How are these axiomatic assumptions selected in the first place, given that a system of logic does not exist prior to the point of selection? ...
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6 votes
1 answer
1k views

Was the Brain-in-a-Vat thought experiment explored philosophically before Putnam?

On SciFi.SE there's a question about the origins of "captive brains" in literature. Upon seeing the question I presumed it originated as a philosophical thought experiment (and then made it's way to ...
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5 votes
2 answers
1k views

Convincing a brain in a vat of reality

Pondering at the arguments at wiki: In other words, if a brain in a vat stated "I am a brain in a vat", it would always be stating a falsehood. If the brain making this statement lives in the "...
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4 votes
5 answers
1k views

Is this a legitimate solution to the brain in a vat problem?

The problem: "Since the brain in a vat gives and receives exactly the same impulses as it would if it were in a skull, and since these are its only way of interacting with its environment, then it is ...
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3 votes
4 answers
715 views

Slippery slope fallacy, clarification on its correct use

I was having a discussion with some friends about Charlottesville, (BTW We're from and live in Ireland) My friend was supporting the idea of physically assaulting Neo Nazi's. My argument was number ...
2 votes
1 answer
167 views

Epistemic pluralism’s potential slippery slope into epistemic nihilism

William James long ago noted that: “Up to about 1850 almost everyone believed that sciences expressed truths that were exact copies of a definite code of non-human realities. But the enormously ...
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2 votes
1 answer
301 views

If metaphysical grounding of beliefs is not necessary what is to logically compel one to believe anything?

'Grounding' is the notion that 'because of X, Y', X being the reason one can accept Y beyond pragmatic considerations. In this way, X and Y are analogous to cause and effect respectively. If it is ...
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2 votes
6 answers
1k views

Is logic built on assumptions?

I'm sorry if this sounds like a stupid question, but how can we know that our logical approach to ideas is not in itself based on assumptions. For example, how can we know that the workings of the ...
2 votes
4 answers
923 views

Is Solipsism self-defeating?

If only my mind existed it would have to create the concept of time but nothing can be created without time, therefore solipsism is self-defeating. Shouldn't this automatically rule out solipsism?
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1 vote
0 answers
63 views

Bayesian argument for combining extraordinary claims

This is an improved version of Backwards Bayesian argument for alien visitation? It is said that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence and therefore this criterion is applied to every ...
0 votes
2 answers
93 views

Bayes and unknown probabilites: is this reasoning from the failure of explanation a fallacy?

Bayesian probability is an interpretation of the concept of probability, in which, instead of frequency or propensity of some phenomenon, probability is interpreted as reasonable expectation ...
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-1 votes
1 answer
117 views

Is it self-defeating for commentators to tell people not to believe or trust the media?

For example: let's suppose that I am a conspiracy theorist and commentator, my job is to report what goes on in the world of politics, social media, and give my opinions. Is it self-defeating to tell ...