Closure Scepticism and The Vat Argument

Mind 127 (507):667-690 (2017)
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Abstract

If it works, I can use Putnam’s vat argument to show that I have not always been a brain-in-a-vat. It is widely thought that the vat argument is of no use against closure scepticism – that is, scepticism motivated by arguments that appeal to a closure principle. This is because, even if I can use the vat argument to show that I have not always been a BIV, I cannot use it to show that I was not recently envatted, and it is thought that the claim that I am not justified in thinking that I was not recently envatted is all that the closure sceptic requires. In this paper I first argue that scenarios in which I have been recently envatted are inadequate for the sceptic’s purposes, and so the standard argument that the vat argument is of no use against closure scepticism fails. I then argue that it is not possible to revise the standard argument to meet my objection. I conclude that, if it works, I can use the vat argument as a defence against closure scepticism.

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