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Journal of Philosophical Research

Volume 36, 2011

J. Adam Carter
Pages 115-133
DOI: 10.5840/jpr_2011_2

Radical Skepticism, Closure, and Robust Knowledge

The Neo-Moorean response to the radical skeptical challenge boldly maintains that we can know we’re not the victims of radical skeptical hypotheses; accordingly, our everyday knowledge that would otherwise be threatened by our inability to rule out such hypotheses stands unthreatened. Given the leverage such an approach has against the skeptic from the very start, the Neo-Moorean line is an especially popular one; as we shall see, though, it faces several commonly overlooked problems. An initial problem is that this particular brand of anti-skeptical strategy is available only to a theory of knowledge that will compromise itself to especially weak epistemic standards—indeed, standards as weak as our epistemic grounds are for accepting the denials of skeptical hypotheses. With this said, the aim here is to investigate whether the Neo-Moorean line could be advanced against the skeptic in a way that wouldn’t require wholesale lowering of epistemic standards. Unfortunately, as we’ll see, Sosa’s (2007; 2009) view as well as what I argue to be the other two most plausible contender-views for maintaining a Neo-Moorean line—Greco’s and Pritchard’s—run (for similar reasons) into dead ends. The way forward, I’ll argue, is to take on board a unique variety of robust virtue epistemology accord­ing to which knowledge is thought to be situated a certain way within a gradient balance between ability and luck.

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