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Journal of Philosophical Research

Volume 22, 1997

Michael Williams
Pages 29-39

Still Unnatural
A Reply to Vogel and Rorty

Professor Vogel claims that my responses to scepticism leave the traditional problems standing . I argue in reply that he fails to take sufficiently seriously the diagnostic character of my enterprise. My aim is not to offer direct refutations of sceptical arguments, taking such arguments at face value, but to undermine their plausibility by revealing their dependence on unacknowledged and contentious theoretical presuppositions. Professor Rorty is much more sympathetic to my approach but thinks that there is a simpler and more direct way to get the job done: that sketched by Davidson, who argues that scepticism fails because belief is intrinsically veridical. I doubt this. My approach is to identify the distinctively epistemological presuppositions of sceptical argumentation. If this remains undone, Davidsonian reflections on belief and meaning will seem only to transform sceptical problems about knowledge of the world into problems about knowledge of meaning.

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