Lehrer's Sceptical Hypothesis

Philosophical Forum 4 (2):299 (1972)
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Abstract

Keith Lehrer has put forward an argument for skepticism which trades on the possibility that a group of creatures in another galaxy (Googols) may be rendering our beliefs about reality largely false (this is ‘Lehrer’s Skeptical Hypothesis’). Since there are no arguments against the Lehrer-Googol hypothesis, it cannot be rejected as unjustified. But since we can be completely justified in believing that p only when hypotheses which conflict with our belief are unjustified, we cannot be completely justified in believing that p. Hence, we can never know that p. I argue that Lehrer’s argument fails in so far as believers on both sides of a question may be completely justified in their beliefs. Since this is so, one can be completely justified in believing p, and thereby know that p, even when an opposing view is itself completely justified.

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