Skepticism and Evolution

In Brian Kim & Matthew McGrath (eds.), Pragmatic Encroachment in Epistemology. Routledge (2019)
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Abstract

I develop a cognitive account of how humans make skeptical judgments (of the form “X does not know p”). In my view, these judgments are produced by a special purpose metacognitive "skeptical" mechanism which monitors our reasoning for hasty or overly risky assumptions. I argue that this mechanism is modular and shaped by natural selection. The explanation for why the mechanism is adaptive essentially relies on an internalized principle connecting knowledge and action, a principle central to pragmatic encroachment theories. I end the paper by sketching how we can use the account I develop here to respond to the skeptic.

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N. Ángel Pinillos
Arizona State University

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