Closure, Underdetermination, and the Peculiarity of Sceptical Scenarios

Theoria 89 (1):73-97 (2022)
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Epistemologists understand radical skepticism as arising from two principles: Closure and Underdetermination. Both possess intuitive prima facie support for their endorsement. Understanding how they engender skepticism is crucial for any reasonable anti-skeptical attempt. The contemporary discussion has focused on elucidating the relationship between them to ascertain whether they establish distinct skeptical questions and which of the two constitutes the ultimately fundamental threat. Major contributions to this debate are due to Brueckner, Cohen, and Pritchard. This contribution aims at defending Brueckner’s contention that underdetermination expresses the fundamental skeptical threat and that the closure-based argument can ultimately be reduced to it, at least concerning skeptical contexts. This will be achieved by undermining Cohen’s objections to Brueckner on both counts. Cohen’s argument endorses a picture of evidential underdetermination, which, while apt for non-skeptical contexts, cannot be applied to radical skepticism. A comparison with a case of scientific underdetermination is developed to argue for this idea. Our argument is then applied to the principle equivalence issue and to objections against it. It is then shown how this analysis possesses a distinctive effect on our understanding of the skeptical threat and the assessment of successful anti-skeptical strategies.

Author's Profile

Guido Tana
IUSS Pavia - Istituto Universitario Di Studi Superiori


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