Unnatural doubts

D. Pritchard

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


The goal of this paper is to critique the prominent inferential contextualist response to radical scepticism offered by Michael Williams. A core criticism is that Williams fails to recognise that the sceptical problem that he engages with is not a single problem at all, but rather two logically distinct difficulties which trade on separate sceptical claims. It is further argued that the Wittgenstein-inspired account of “methodological necessities” that Williams offers is fundamentally flawed, and that he would have been better to have stuck more closely to Wittgenstein’s own characterisation of hinge commitments. Inferential contextualism is also independently shown to be problematic in various ways, not least in the manner in which it is in danger of collapsing into a form of epistemic relativism. It is argued that the right way to deal with the sceptical problem involves allying a Wittgensteinian account of the structure of rational evaluation with a radical thesis about the nature of perceptual knowledge in paradigm epistemic conditions, known as epistemological disjunctivism.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSkepticism
Subtitle of host publicationHistorical and Contemporary Inquiries
Editors G. Anthony Bruno, A.C. Rutherford
Number of pages25
ISBN (Electronic)9781315268514
ISBN (Print)9781138285224
Publication statusPublished - 22 Dec 2017

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