Jonathan Knowles, Erling Skei, and Michael Amundsen: «Fighting fire with fire» – On overcoming scepticism with scepticism

We offer a further exploration of some themes from Neil Gascoigne’s interesting book Scepticism from 2002. Gascoigne presents a taxonomy of responses to two classical, skeptical arguments: the argument from ignorance, and Agrippa’s trilemma. One class of response is termed skeptical. Skeptical arguments seek to avoid conclusions by attacking the attainability or coherence of a certain kind of knowledge to which we seem to aspire – what Gascoigne calls philosophical knowledge (p-knowledge). The challenge facing such responses is to show how this can be done without inviting new skeptical problems or the same ones at new levels. We discuss three examples of what Gascoigne presents as at least partially successful responses to: Ancient skepticism centering on the thoughts of Carneades; classical modern philosophy centering on Hume’s naturalism; and contemporary philosophy that focuses on Davidson’s argument against skepticism from the veridical nature of belief.

Keywords: Skeptical arguments, skeptical responses to skepticism, Carneades, Hume, Davidson