Volume 53, 2008
Theory of Knowledge
Pryor’s Dogmatism Against the Skeptic
My aim in this paper is to show the difficulty James Pryor faces in attempting to overcome the skeptic’s challenge. According to the skeptic, we can never know anything about the external world, because of our cognitive limitation that cannot distinguish real perceptions from false ones in the skeptical scenarios. Thus, the skeptic requires us having antecedent justification to rule out all possible hypotheses. In opposition to the skeptic, Pryor argues that as long as we remain dogmatic about perception, we can have “prima facie justification” for perceptual beliefs, which does not rest on any antecedent justification. Furthermore, on the
basis of prima facie justification, Pryor goes on to justify the existence of the external world, which by itself excludes various skeptical hypotheses. However, I shall argue that since Pryor’s prima facie justification only considers perceptual justification, it cannot show whether skeptical hypotheses are true or false, and thus, fails to give a convincing solution to the skeptic. Nevertheless, I still believe that dogmatism is worthy of notice in that it offers a plausible explanation of our ordinary perceptual beliefs by the notion of “entitlement to rely.