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The Possibility of Philosophical UnderstandingReflections on the Thought of Barry Stroud$
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Jason Bridges, Niko Kolodny, and Wai-hung Wong

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780195381658

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195381658.001.0001

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External World Skepticism and the Structure of Epistemic Entitlement

External World Skepticism and the Structure of Epistemic Entitlement

(p.42) (p.43) 3 External World Skepticism and the Structure of Epistemic Entitlement
The Possibility of Philosophical Understanding

Michael Williams

Oxford University Press

The most important skeptical arguments divide into two families: Agrippan and Cartesian. Arguments in the first family centering on the threat of a vicious regress of justification. Those in the second exploit skeptical hypotheses, involving systematic (thus seemingly ineliminable) error-possibilities. I argue that Agrippan skepticism depends on an implausible conception of the entitlement structure of what Sellars called “the logical space of reasons.” In particular, whereas the skeptic assumes a severe form of claimant-challenger asymmetry, the entitlement structure of ordinary justification is better understood on the model of default and challenge. Surprisingly perhaps, it turns out that this conception of the entitlement structure of ordinary epistemic practice provides the key to Cartesian skepticism as well.

Keywords:   Agrippa's trilemma, Cartesian skepticism, claimant-challenger asymmetry, default and challenge structure, epistemic entitlement, epistemic responsibility, internalism vs. externalism, prior grounding structure, skeptical hypotheses, skepticism about philosophy

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