Aiming at Truth by Nicholas Unwin (auth.)

By Nicholas Unwin (auth.)

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We shall have more to say about the concept of knowledge later. However, our concern is primarily with the stronger, justificatory variety of scepticism. We shall argue that we have no right to believe or to assert, where belief and assertion are construed as satisfying the UUP. This is evidently a kind of scepticism that is stronger than Descartes’. 3 This is because there is no reason why a Martian should agree. For not only will it not necessarily appear sweet to him (of course), but it may not appear to him that it appears sweet to me.

The Pyrrhonists had several types of argument designed to undermine belief, but it did not occur to them to worry specifically about whether the future would resemble the past, or whether and how we may extrapolate from a given set of data. Not that the arguments that they did employ are irrelevant to us. On the contrary, our problem about Martians and grue-users owes a good deal to the ‘ten modes of scepticism’, in particular to the first and the sixth modes, and it was arguably they who first grasped the importance of underdetermination.

2 The problem of induction It was Hume, of course, and not the ancient sceptics who first drew the problem of induction to our attention. The Pyrrhonists had several types of argument designed to undermine belief, but it did not occur to them to worry specifically about whether the future would resemble the past, or whether and how we may extrapolate from a given set of data. Not that the arguments that they did employ are irrelevant to us. On the contrary, our problem about Martians and grue-users owes a good deal to the ‘ten modes of scepticism’, in particular to the first and the sixth modes, and it was arguably they who first grasped the importance of underdetermination.

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