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Knowledge, Belief, and GodNew Insights in Religious Epistemology$
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Matthew A. Benton, John Hawthorne, and Dani Rabinowitz

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780198798705

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198798705.001.0001

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Moderate Modal Skepticism

Moderate Modal Skepticism

Chapter:
(p.302) 15 Moderate Modal Skepticism
Source:
Knowledge, Belief, and God
Author(s):

Margot Strohminger

Juhani Yli-Vakkuri

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780198798705.003.0016

This chapter examines moderate modal skepticism, a form of skepticism about metaphysical modality defended by Peter van Inwagen in order to blunt the force of certain modal arguments in the philosophy of religion. Van Inwagen’s argument for moderate modal skepticism assumes Yablo’s (1993) influential world-based epistemology of possibility. This chapter raises two problems for this epistemology of possibility, which undermine van Inwagen’s argument. It then considers how one might motivate moderate modal skepticism by relying on a different epistemology of possibility, which does not face these problems: Williamson’s (2007) counterfactual-based epistemology. Two ways of motivating moderate modal skepticism within that framework are found unpromising. Nevertheless, the chapter also finds a way of vindicating an epistemological thesis that, while weaker than moderate modal skepticism, is strong enough to support the methodological moral van Inwagen wishes to draw.

Keywords:   modal skepticism, epistemology of modality, epistemic possibility, skeptical theism, counterfactuals, Peter van Inwagen

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