Sceptical Hypotheses and Subjective Indistinguishability

The Philosophical Quarterly (forthcoming)
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Abstract

The notion of subjective indistinguishability has long played a central role in explanations of the force of Cartesian sceptical hypotheses. I argue that sceptical hypotheses do not need to be subjectively indistinguishable to be compelling and I provide an alternative diagnosis of their force that explains why this is the case. My diagnosis focuses on the relation between one’s experiences and third-personal accounts of the circumstances in which these experiences occur. This relation is characterized by a distinctive gap that leaves room for questions about the nature of one’s circumstances, providing sceptical hypotheses with a foothold. I argue that this gap lends sceptical hypotheses their force and renders the stipulation of subjective indistinguishability unnecessary.

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Lisa Doerksen
University of Toronto, St. George Campus

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