Philosophical skepticism is a general philosophy that requires all information to be well supported by evidence. Classical philosophical skepticism derives from the 'Skeptikoi', a school who "asserted nothing". Adherents of Pyrrhonism (and more recently, partially synonymous with Fallibilism), for instance, suspend judgment in investigations. Skeptics may even doubt the reliability of their own senses. Religious skepticism, on the other hand, is "doubt concerning basic religious principles (such as immortality, providence, and revelation)". Scientific skepticism is about testing scientific beliefs for reliability, by subjecting them to systematic investigation using the scientific method, to discover empirical evidence for them.
DefinitionIn ordinary usage, skepticism (US) or scepticism (UK) (Greek: 'σκέπτομαι' skeptomai, to think, to look about, to consider; see also spelling differences) refers to:
- an attitude of doubt or a disposition to incredulity either in general or toward a particular object;
- the doctrine that true knowledge or some particular knowledge is uncertain; or
- the method of suspended judgment, systematic doubt, or criticism that is characteristic of skeptics (Merriam–Webster).
- an inquiry,
- a method of obtaining knowledge through systematic doubt and continual testing,
- the arbitrariness, relativity, or subjectivity of moral values,
- the limitations of knowledge,
- a method of intellectual caution and suspended judgment.
Western Philosophical skepticism originated in ancient Greek philosophy. The Greek Sophists of the 5th century BC were partially skeptics.
Pyrrho of Elis (365-275 BC) is usually credited with initiating skepticism. He traveled to India and studied with the "gymnosophists" (naked lovers of wisdom), which could have been any number of Indian sects. From there, he brought back the idea that nothing can be known for certain. The senses are easily fooled, and reason follows too easily our desires. Pyrrhonism was a school of skepticism founded by his follower Aenesidemus in the first century BC and recorded by Sextus Empiricus in the late 2nd century or early 3rd century AD. Subsequently, in the "New Academy" Arcesilaus (c. 315-241 BC) and Carneades (c. 213-129 BC) developed more theoretical perspectives by which conceptions of absolute truth and falsity were refuted as uncertain. Carneades criticized the claims of the Dogmatists, especially supporters of Stoicism, asserting that absolute certainty of knowledge is impossible. Sextus Empiricus (c. AD 200), the main authority for Greek skepticism, developed the philosophy further, incorporating aspects of empiricism into the basis for asserting knowledge.
Greek skeptics criticized the Stoics, accusing them of dogmatism. For the skeptics, the logical mode of argument was untenable, as it relied on propositions which could not be said to be either true or false without relying on further propositions. This was the regress argument, whereby every proposition must rely on other propositions in order to maintain its validity (see the five tropes of Agrippa the Sceptic). In addition, the skeptics argued that two propositions could not rely on each other, as this would create a circular argument (as p implies q and q implies p). For the skeptics, such logic was thus an inadequate measure of truth and could create as many problems as it claimed to have solved. Truth was not, however, necessarily unobtainable, but rather an idea which did not yet exist in a pure form. Although skepticism was accused of denying the possibility of truth, in fact it appears to have mainly been a critical school which merely claimed that logicians had not discovered truth.
In Islamic philosophy, skepticism was established by Al-Ghazali (1058–1111), known in the West as "Algazel", as part of the Ash'ari school of Islamic theology, whose method of skepticism shares many similarities with Descartes' method.
In an effort to avoid skepticism, René Descartes begins his Meditations on First Philosophy attempting to find indubitable truth on which to base his knowledge. He later recognizes this truth as "I think, therefore I am," but before he finds this truth, he briefly entertains the skeptical arguments from dreaming and radical deception.
David Hume has also been described as a skeptic.
Pierre Le Morvan (2011) has distinguished between three philosophical reactions to skepticism. The first he terms the "Foil Approach." According to this approach, skepticism is treated as a problem to be solved, or challenge to be met, or threat to be parried; skepticism's value according to this method, insofar as it is deemed to have one, accrues from its role as a foil contrastively illuminating what is required for knowledge and justified belief. The second he calls the "Bypass Approach" according to which skepticism is bypassed as a major concern of epistemology. Le Morvan advocates a third approach—- he dubs it the "Health Approach"—- that explores when skepticism is healthy and when it is not, or when it is virtuous and when it is vicious.
- Critical thinking
- Debunker, a person who discredits and exposes claims as being false, exaggerated or pretentious.
- Richard Popkin
- Scientific skepticism
- Trivialism (opposite of skepticism)
- List of topics characterized as pseudoscience
- Ambrose Bierce: The Devil's Dictionary
- Ignacy Krasicki: Fables and Parables
- Herman Melville: Moby-Dick, other works
- Montaigne: Essais.
- Bolesław Prus: Pharaoh
- Emily Rosa: "A Close Look at Therapeutic Touch," Journal of the American Medical Association, April 1, 1998; 279(13):1005–1010.
- Voltaire: Candide
- Australian Skeptics
- Brights movement
- Center for Inquiry
- Committee for Skeptical Inquiry
- Independent Investigations Group
- James Randi Educational Foundation
- New England Skeptical Society
- New Zealand Skeptics
- Rationalist International
- Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science
- SKEPP (Belgian association of skeptics)
- Skepsis ry (Finnish association of skeptics)
- Skeptics in the Pub
- The Skeptics Society
- Penn & Teller: Bullshit!
- Point of Inquiry
- Skeptic (U.S. magazine)
- Skeptical Inquirer
- The Freethinker (journal)
- The Skeptic
- The Skeptic's Dictionary
- The Skeptics' Guide to the Universe
- The Straight Dope
- Popkin, R. H. The History of Skepticism from Erasmus to Descartes (rev. ed. 1968); C. L. Stough, Greek Skepticism (1969); M. Burnyeat, ed., The Skeptical Tradition (1983); B. Stroud, The Significance of Philosophical Skepticism (1984). Encyclopedia2.thefreedictionary.com.
- "Philosophical views are typically classed as skeptical when they involve advancing some degree of doubt regarding claims that are elsewhere taken for granted." utm.edu
- "Philosophical skepticism should be distinguished from ordinary skepticism, where doubts are raised against certain beliefs or types of beliefs because the evidence for the particular belief or type of belief is weak or lacking ..." skepdic.com
- Liddell and Scott
- Sextus Empiricus, Outlines Of Pyrrhonism, Translated by R. G. Bury, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1933, p. 21
- "... the two most influential forms of skepticism have, arguably, been the radical epistemological skepticism of the classical Pyrrhonian skeptics and the Cartesian form of radical epistemological skepticism" utm.edu
- Scepticism – History of Scepticism[dead link]
- Boeree, Dr. C. George. "The Ancient Greeks, Part Three:". Shippensburg University. Retrieved 31 May 2013.
- Najm, Sami M. (July–October 1966), "The Place and Function of Doubt in the Philosophies of Descartes and Al-Ghazali", Philosophy East and West (Philosophy East and West, Vol. 16, No. 3/4) 16 (3–4): 133–141, doi:10.2307/1397536, JSTOR 1397536
- Skeptoid.com: What is skepticism?
- Mann, Daniel. "Skeptical of Atheism". Apologetics for Today. Retrieved 2 December 2013.
- Durant, Will (1944). Caesar and Christ: The Story of Civilization. Simon & Schuster. p. 164.
- "JAMA Network | JAMA | A Close Look at Therapeutic Touch". Jama.ama-assn.org. Retrieved 2014-01-27.
- A Greek-English Lexicon, Henry George Liddell and Robert Scott, revised and augmented throughout by Sir Henry Stuart Jones, with the assistance of Roderick McKenzie, Clarendon Press, Oxford, UK, 1940. Online, perseus.tufts.edu.
- Butchvarov, Panayot, Skepticism About the External World (Oxford University Press, 1998).
- Daniels, M.D., D.; Price, PhD, V. (2000), The Essential Enneagram, New York: HarperCollins
- Richard Hönigswald, Die Skepsis in Philosophie und Wissenschaft, 1914, new edition (ed. and introduction by Christian Benne and Thomas Schirren), Göttingen: Edition Ruprecht, 2008, ISBN 978-3-7675-3056-0
- Keeton, Morris T., "skepticism", pp. 277–278 in Dagobert D. Runes (ed.), Dictionary of Philosophy, Littlefield, Adams, and Company, Totowa, NJ, 1962.
- Le Morvan, P. Healthy Skepticism and Practical Wisdom," Logos & Episteme II, 1 (2011): 87-102 (PDF).
- Runes, D.D. (ed.), Dictionary of Philosophy, Littlefield, Adams, and Company, Totowa, NJ, 1962.
- Webster's New International Dictionary of the English Language, Second Edition, Unabridged, W.A. Neilson, T.A. Knott, P.W. Carhart (eds.), G. & C. Merriam Company, Springfield, MA, 1950.
- Sextus Empiricus, Outlines of Pyrrhonism, R.G. Bury (trans.), Prometheus Books, Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1933.
- Myles Burnyeat (ed.), The Skeptical Tradition, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1983.
- Richard H. Popkin, The History of Scepticism from Savonarola to Bayle. Third enlarged edition, New York: Oxford University Press, 2003. ISBN 0-19-510768-3.
- Richard Wilson, Don't Get Fooled Again - The Skeptic's Guide to Life, London: Icon Books, 2008. ISBN 978-1-84831-014-8
|Look up skepticism in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Skeptics.|
- Skepticism at PhilPapers
- Skepticism at the Indiana Philosophy Ontology Project
- Skepticism entry by Peter Klein in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
- Ancient Greek Skepticism entry by Katja Vogt in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
- Ancient Greek Skepticism entry by Harald Thorsrud in the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy
- Medieval Skepticism entry by Charles Bolyard in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
- Contemporary Skepticism entry by Duncan Pritchard in the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy
- Skeptical Inquiry at DMOZ
- "Most Scientific Papers are Probably Wrong", NewScientist, 30 August 2005
- "In the Name of Skepticism: Martin Gardner's Misrepresentations of General Semantics", by Bruce I. Kodish, appeared in General Semantics Bulletin, Number 71, 2004.
- Classical Skepticism by Peter Suber
- "Outstanding skeptics of the 20th century" – Skeptical Inquirer magazine
- "CSICOP and the Skeptics" – critical essay by paranormal believer George P. Hansen
- "Nonsense (And Why It's So Popular)" – course syllabus from The College of Wooster.
- "Scepticism". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. 1913. – A Christian (Catholic) account of scepticism
- Media Guide to Skepticism - Doubtful News
- The Rise and Fall of Militant Skepticism an essay by Deepak Chopra