Skepticism, Invulnerability, and Epistemological Dissatisfaction

In C. Illies & C. Schaefer (eds.), Metaphysics or Modernity? Bamberg University Press. pp. 113-148 (2013)
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How should we understand the relationship between the contents of our color, causal, modal, and evaluative beliefs, on the one hand, and color, causal, modal, and evaluative properties, on the other? According to Barry Stroud (2011), because of the nature of the contents of those types of beliefs, we should also think that what he calls a “negative metaphysical verdict” on the latter is not one that we could consistently maintain. The metaphysical project aims to arrive at an improved conception of ourselves and our relation the world, no matter if that conception is positive or negative. But if Stroud is right that we cannot consistently arrive at the view that all of our causal, modal, and evaluative beliefs are systematically false, we will see that we cannot consistently reach the negative verdict. But failure to reach the negative verdict doesn’t mean that we have reached the positive verdict. Stroud calls this philosophical failure “metaphysical dissatisfaction”. In this paper, I argue that we can appropriate a metaepistemological response to the problem of the external world which shares its core features with Stroud’s (2000, 2011) arguments, but which nevertheless leaves us with a distinctive kind of epistemological dissatisfaction.

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Christopher Ranalli
VU University Amsterdam


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