Friday, December 31, 2010


In relation to my previous post, I've found out that there is an illuminating entry on trust in the Stanford Enclycopedia of Philosophy. You'll see that it contains a useful bibliography.

Since this is the last post of the year, I take this opportunity to wish you all a good 2011.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Epistemology of Trust

For some time now, I've been thinking about posting something about the epistemic justification of trust. But I haven't done so until now because I didn't know whether there had been any serious discussion of this topic in the field of philosophy - although one could argue that this subject is dealt with by those working on the epistemology of testimony. Even though I haven't searched for any philosophical work in this area yet, I'd like to say a couple of things that might be plausible to at least some extent. 

I've always thought that some key skeptical arguments, such as indiscernibility arguments, have important consequences in the case of trust. As the Academic skeptics used to argue, it seems that we can never discern a true impression or appearance (phantasia) from a false one because they may have all the same traits, i.e., there is no trait which can assure us of the truth of the impression. One usually says that it makes sense or it is justified to trust a given person because of a number of reasons, including certain psychological traits of that person and his past behavior. However, in fact, that does not guarantee anything at all. There seems to be an unbridgeable gap between the evidence we have (or might have) and the truth or what is really the case. So, trust is just irrational and, hence, a highly dangerous risk. Trust is just blind faith - I'm aware that "blind faith" may sound completely redundant.

In the course in professional ethics which I teach, I explain an argument which makes use of the so-called prisoner's dilemma, which is a dilemma discussed in metaethics, business ethics, game theory, etc. I think that this dilemma is an excellent example of how people usually (always?) behave and supports the idea that it doesn't make any sense to trust people: you never know what the other person will do, i.e., you never know whether the other person has the genuine intention to respect the "pact" the two of you have made. And so, it is rational for you not to respect it, and since the other person is in the same situation, then it is only rational for him/her not to respect it either. (Those interested in this dilemma can take a look at this entry.)

So, in the end, it seems to me that there is no epistemic justification whatsoever for this kind of blind faith (or any kind of faith for that matter) and that at most there may be some kind of pragmatic justication in the sense that trusting might sometimes work. In addition, it seems that most of us cannot help trusting people, since to all appearances we need to do so, or don't we?

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Free Will Skepticism

I've just found out about this article by Benjamin Vilhauer:

"Free Will Skepticism and Personhood as a Desert Base," Canadian Journal of Philosophy 39 (2009): 489-511.

You can find the paper here.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Book on Evolution and Hypocrisy


Someone at Princeton University Press has informed about the imminent publication of this book:

Robert Kurzban (Univ. of Pennsylvania), Why Everyone (Else) Is a Hypocrite: Evolution and the Modular Mind (PUP, 2011).

The thesis of the book is that the mind consists of many different parts or applications and that, although these applications are usually consistent with one another, sometimes they are not. In this case, "one part of your mind – one application, or 'module' – can believe one thing, while another part can believe exactly the opposite. Behavior is dictated by which module is in charge at any given time. Essentially, our minds have evolved to encourage hypocritical behavior."

More information about the book can be found here.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Internalism and the Dream Argument

Some of you may be interested in the following paper which explores the connection between the dream argument and epistemic internalism:

Halvor Dordby, "Skepticism and Internalism," Canadian Journal of Philosophy 39 (2009): 35-54.

The paper can be found here.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Review of Companion to Ancient Scepticism

The latest issue of Philosophy in Review features Filip Grgić's review of The Cambridge Companion to Ancient Scepticism, edited by Richard Bett. To access the review, go here.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Ian Hinckfuss' "The Moral Society"

Lately, I've been reading more about contemporary ethical skepticism and Mackie's moral error theory, and have found out that Ian Hinckfuss (who passed away in 1997) defended a interesting version of ethical nihilism in his book The Moral Society: Its Structure and Effects (Canberra: Australian National University, 1987). (The original, cool title of the book was To Hell with Morality.) Although the book is out of print, I've found an online version which incorporates some revisions. To access the file, go here (if you encounter any problem, let me know).

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Influence of Cicero's Academica

Sylvia Giocanti and Emmanuel Naya have organized a journée d'étude entitled "La fécondité des Académiques de Cicéron dans l’histoire du scepticisme." This event is supported by GRAC/CERPHI (ENS-Lyon). Here's is the program in French:

Vendredi 7 janvier 2011, de 8h30 à 12h30 et de 14h à 16h, Université de Toulouse II-Le Mirail, Département de Philosophie, Bâtiment 18, salle 214.


Stéphane Marchand (École Normale Supérieure de Lyon): "Les Academica dans le Contra Academicos d’Augustin : sur l’usage et le détournement dogmatique du scepticisme."

Christophe Grellard (Université de Paris I): "La seconde acculturation chrétienne de Cicéron: la réception des Académiques aux IXème-XIIème siècles."

Emmanuel Naya (Université de Lyon II): "Skepsis in utramque partem: la place de la Nouvelle Académie dans la redécouverte du scepticisme à la Renaissance."

Luiz Alvez Eva (Université de Parana, Brésil): "Montaigne lecteur des Académiques."


Sylvia Giocanti (Université de Toulouse II): "Comment traiter de ce qui n’est ni entièrement certain ni indubitable ? Descartes héritier des Académiques de Cicéron."

Sébastien Charles (Université de Sherbrooke, Canada): "Cicero Redivivus: Foucher, apôtre moderne de l’académisme et critique du cartésianisme."

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Workshop on Ancient Skepticism

Josef Moural has organized a workshop on ancient skepticism which will be held in Prague on December 18th. Here is the program:

10 a.m.

Mauro Bonazzi (Università degli Studi di Milano): "Plutarch on the Difference between Academics and Pyrrhonists."

Markus Lammenranta (University of Helsinki): "Agrippa's Problem."

(12-13:30 lunch break)

Josef Moural (Universita J. E. Purkyně, Ústí nad Labem): "What Kind of Investigation the Pyrrhonist Continues to Pursue after the epochê."

Baptiste Bondu (Université Paris Ouest, Nanterre): "What Kind of Subjectivity Does the Sceptical phainomenon Involve in Sextus' Texts?" Update: the new title of this paper is: "What Kind of Experience Does Sextus Empiricus Accept for the Sceptic?"

The Workshop takes place in room 342 of the Celetná building of the Faculty of Philosophy, Charles University, Prague (Celetná 20, 110 00 Praha 1). Those interested in attending must contact Josef Moural at this address.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Nietzsche and Ancient Skepticism

A new book on skepticism has just come out:

Jessica Berry (Georgia State University), Nietzsche and the Ancient Skeptical Tradition (OUP, 2010). For more information, go here.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

The Sophists

There's a new book on the sophists by Mauro Bonazzi (Università degli Studi di Milano). Given the skeptical elements detectable in the sophists, I think the book might be of interest to those working on the antecedents of the skepticism of the Hellenistic and Imperial ages. Here's the information:

M. Bonazzi, I sofisti. Roma: Carocci, 2010. € 16,50.

Table of Contents

1. I sofisti: storia di un nome e di un pregiudizio

Chi sono i sofisti?/Polemisti, cattivi maestri e falsi filosofi: le accuse contro i sofisti

2. L’essere e la verità, l’uomo e la realtà

La verità di Protagora: l’interpretazione gnoseologica/La verità di Protagora: le conseguenze pratiche/Gorgia: la dialettica del non essere/Due testimonianze nel solco della discussione di Gorgia: Seniade e Licofrone/La realtà secondo Antifonte/Dalla physis al logos: presocratici e sofisti

3. Un mondo di parole: i sofisti tra grammatica, retorica, poesia e filosofia

Grammatica e correttezza dei nomi/Critica letteraria e critica della tradizione poetica/ Retorica, sofistica e filosofia/Dal logos al nomos, dal linguaggio alla politica

4. La giustizia e la legge

La giustizia secondo Protagora/Contro il nomos: da Gorgia a Callicle/Trasimaco e il realismo politico/ Antifonte e la logica dell’individuo/Altri avversari del nomos/Il problema dell’uguaglianza/Attualità dei sofisti

5. Insegnare la virtù: i sofisti tra felicità e successo

Gli immoralisti/La morale della concordia di Antifonte/La scelta di Prodico (e di Ippia)

6. Gli dei e la religione

L’agnosticismo di Protagora/L’origine della credenza negli dei/Provvidenza e giustizia divina: questioni di teodicea

Appendice. I sofisti e i saperi specialistici (technai)

Monday, November 29, 2010

Moral Skepticism

The latest issue of Ratio features Robert Stern's "Moral Scepticism and Agency: Kant and Korsgaard". To access the paper, click here.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Call for Papers

University of Edinburgh, Graduate Epistemology Conference: We invite submissions of papers from graduate students to the Edinburgh Graduate Epistemology Conference, which will take place on the 18-19 March 2011. Essays within any area of epistemology are welcome. Essays should be approximately 4000 words. The submission deadline for the conference is 10 January 2011. Although conference attendance is free, you must register for the conference if you plan on attending. Space is limited, so please register as early as possible.

Keynote Speakers:

- Ernest Sosa (Rutgers)

- Richard Swinburne (Oxford)

This graduate conference will be unique in that graduate presentations will have respondents from the faculty at Edinburgh and other neighbouring universities.

Please send the following to in .doc, .rtf, or .pdf format:

1) A cover letter containing

a) the author’s name and institutional affiliation

b) the author’s contact information

c) word count

d) the area(s) of epistemology the paper deals with.

2) The paper itself, including the title and a short abstract (no more than 200 words).

For further information, please visit email Tony Bolos at

Monday, November 22, 2010

Edition of Montaigne's Essays

I've just found out about this very recent French edition of Montaigne's Essays:

Michel de Montaigne, Les Essais, edited by E. Naya, D. Reguig-Naya, and A. Tarrête. Paris: Gallimard, 2009. Collection "Folio classique," 3 volumes, 2182 pages, € 21,10. This new edition is based on the Exemplaire de Bordeaux.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Garner's Beyond Morality

In 1994, Richard Garner published Beyond Morality (Temple University Press), where he defends a form of ethical skepticism. He is now working on the revision of this book. The revised versions of eleven of the twelve chapters can be found here.

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Epistemic Renegade

Bryan Frances' "The Reflective Epistemic Renegade," which in part discusses a form of radical skepticism, has recently been published in Philosophy and Phenomenological Research. To access the paper, go here.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Epistemology Conference in Sweden

The European Epistemology Network (EEN) provides a platform for cooperation and exchange among epistemologists and those interested in the theory of knowledge in Europe. The 2011 meeting is held in Lund, Sweden, from Thu 17th to Sat 19th of March.

To contribute, please prepare a max. 500 word abstract for blind review. Send it to on or before NOV 30, 2010. Expect a letter of acceptance within two weeks.


- Igor Douven (University of Groningen)

- Pascal Engel (University of Geneva)

- Stephan Hartmann (University of Tilburg)

- Klemens Kappel (University of Copenhagen)

- Erik Olsson (University of Lund)

- Duncan Pritchard (University of Edinburgh)

- Rene van Woudenberg (University of Amsterdam)

- Claudine Tiercelin (College de France, Paris)


Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Roundtable Reminder

Just a reminder: next Friday, a roundtable discussion of two recent books on ancient skepticism will take place at the Centre Léon Robin in Paris. For more information, look at this previous post.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Volume on Disagreement

The collective volume Disagreement, edited by R. Feldman and T. A. Warfield and published by OUP, has just come out. For information, go here. Needless to say, the book will appeal to those interested in the skeptical discussion of disagreement in both ethics and epistemology.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Purdue Summer Seminar

Recent PhDs and ABD graduate students in philosophy, theology, psychology, or cognitive science are invited to apply for the 2011 Purdue Summer Seminar on Perceptual, Moral, and Religious Skepticism to be held at Purdue University in West Lafayette, IN from June 8th to June 24th, 2011. The seminar will be directed by Michael Bergmann (Purdue) and the guest speakers will be Justin Barrett (Oxford) and Walter Sinnott-Armstrong (Duke).

The topics of the seminar are:

EPISTEMOLOGY: The epistemology of perceptual, moral, and religious belief

SKEPTICISM: Responses to skepticism about perceptual, moral, and religious belief

DISAGREEMENT: Moral and religious disagreement as grounds for unbelief

EVOLUTION: Evolutionary accounts of moral and religious belief as reasons for skepticism

Participants will receive a stipend of $5,000 from which they will pay for their travel, food, and lodging. The deadline for receipt of applications is December 1, 2010. For more information, including information on how to apply, go to:

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Research Fellowship

The Center for Philosophy of Religion at the University of Notre Dame announces up to four one-year residential Research Fellowships on the topic of 'Evil and Skeptical Theism', open rank, funded by the John Templeton Foundation. (Skeptical theism is an increasingly widely discussed strategy for responding to the problem of evil.) Fellows will be expected to spend the year in residence at the University of Notre Dame. Each successful applicant will receive a total fellowship award of $55,000 to $85,000. Stipend will depend on rank and circumstances of the applicant, and up to $15,000 of each award may be received as reimbursement for travel, re-location, or research-related expenses.

In addition, there will be funding available to invite outside scholars of interest to the fellows for brief visits during the 2011–2012 academic year. There will also be funding available for a workshop on the theme of skeptical theism in late spring of 2012. (Details of the workshop are still to be determined. Applicants who are interested in helping to organize the workshop should indicate as much in their cover letter.)

For further details, including a brief characterization of skeptical theism and information about appropriate topics of research, please visit and follow the “Fellowships” and "Skeptical Theism" links.

To apply, please submit the following materials electronically, if possible, to, or by mail to Michael Rea, Director, Center for Philosophy of Religion, 418 Malloy Hall, University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN 46556:

• A complete curriculum vitae.
• Three letters of recommendation.
• A project abstract of no more than 150 words.
• A project description of no more than 1200 words.
• One published or unpublished paper.
All application materials must be received by January 15, 2011 to assure full consideration. Questions may be addressed to Michael Rea at

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Dretske in Brazil

On November 11-12, at the Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul (Porto Alegre), Fred Dretske (Duke University) will deliver two papers, one of them on skepticism:

Thursday 11, at 15:30h: "What We See: The Texture of Conscious Experience".

Friday 12, at 14h: "I Think I Think, Therefore I Am . . . I Think: Skeptical Doubts About Self Knowledge".

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Cicero's Academica

A new French translation (with facing Latin text) of Cicero's Academica has just come out:

Cicéron, Les Académiques/Academica. Translation by José Kany-Turpin, introduction by Pierre Pellegrin (GF Flammarion, 2010).

For more information, go here.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Online Submission New Journal

Manuscripts for consideration in the International Journal for the Study of Skepticism must now be submitted online through Editorial Manager. The link to this online manuscript submission system can be found on the journal's website, where you can also find the instructions for authors and the list of members of the editorial board.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Pyrrhonism and Doubt

Lorenzo Corti has recently published his paper "Sextus Empiricus: scepticisme sans doute" in the collective volume "Quid est veritas?" Hommage à Jonathan Barnes (Napoli: Bibliopolis, 2010), pp. 157-177. Corti claims that the Pyrrhonist's suspension of judgment is not the same as the state of doubt. This view was already defended by Benson Mates (and also by Ezequiel de Olaso), but Corti holds it for a different reason. He compares the so-called 'Cartesian' skeptic and the Pyrrhonist, and concludes (i) that the former does not believe that P or not-P, whereas the latter does not judge that P or not-P, and (ii) that belief is a state, whereas judgment is an act. Now, one may be in a given state without having performed an act of judgment: I may believe that P without having judged that P. So the only beliefs the Pyrrhonist eschews are those which are based on judgments (pp. 172-6).

I'm not convinced by this view, because the distinction in question seems somehow artificial. Sextus does attack the very holding of dogmata and doxai, and it is not at all clear that the beliefs and opinions targeted are only those based on judgments. Also, contrary to what Corti suggests (p. 175), there's no textual evidence for the view that what disturbed the proto-skeptic was, not the beliefs he held, but the judgments he formed. If a person believes that an object X is good by nature, he is disturbed if he does not have it and, if he does, he is disturbed because he is afraid of losing it. And this is so even if the belief in question is not based on a judgment.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

McDowell and Skepticism

Santiago Echeverri's paper "McDowell's Conceptualist Therapy for Skepticism" is forthcoming in the European Journal of Philosophy. The paper can at present be accessed through the early view system: go here.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Pyrrhonism and Self-Refutation

I'd like to let you know about this very recent publication by Luca Castagnoli (Durham University):

Ancient Self-Refutation: The Logic and History of the Self-Refutation Argument from Democritus to Augustine (CUP, 2010).

For more information, go here. Some of the chapters deal with ancient Pyrrhonism. Since I had the opportunity to read a draft of the book, I can tell you that it is certainly worth reading.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Roundtable on Ancient Skepticism

The Centre Léon Robin at the Université Paris Sorbonne has organized a roundtable discussion of two recent books on ancient skepticism:

Anna-Maria Ioppolo, La testimonianza di Sesto Empirico sull'Accademia scettica (Napoli: Bibliopolis, 2009), which will be discussed by Thomas Bénatouïl.

Lorenzo Corti, Scepticisme et langage (Paris: Vrin, 2009), which will be discussed by Stéphane Marchand.

The event will take place on November 12 (from 15h to 17h30) at the École Normale Supérieure, Salle de Conférence, 46 rue d'Ulm (Paris).

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Leite's Paper

Volume 148/1 of Philosophical Studies features Adam Leite's "How to Take Skepticism Seriously". Here's the link to the paper.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Review of Clayman

Stéphane Marchand's review of Dee Clayman's Timon of Phlius: Pyrrhonism into Poetry (Walter de Gruyter, 2009) has just appeared in Bryn Mawr Classical Review. Click here to read it.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Second-Order Skepticism

The last issue of Philosophical Investigations features Alexander Harper's "Fallibilism, Contextualism and Second-Order Skepticism". To access the paper, go here.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Brueckner's Essays

Tony Brueckner's Essays on Skepticism has just been published by OUP. You'll find more information by clicking here.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Review of Perin's Book

A review of Casey Perin's The Demands of Reason: An Essay on Pyrrhonian Scepticism has just appeared in Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews. The author is Filip Grgić (Institute of Philosophy, Zagreb), a specialist on Sextus. To access the review, go here.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Possible Skepticism Journal Covers

Here are three possible covers for our new skepticism journal (there's a fourth but neither Duncan nor I like it). I'd like to know your opinion about them, so please post your comments.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

New Issue of Sképsis

A new issue of the Brazilian journal Sképsis has been published. To access it, click here. As you may already know, the papers can be downloaded for free.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Journal's Website

The website of the International Journal for the Study of Skepticism can be found here. Contributions will be submitted online, but since the system is not available at the moment, we are currently accepting submissions by email.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Special Issue of The European Legacy

Next year, Sébastien Charles is going to publish a special issue of The European Legacy devoted to Skepticism in Early Modern Philosophy. Even though the participants of the issue are already chosen, there will be some space for two review essays of around 2,500 words and a large number of book reviews of 600-800 words. Those interested in publishing a review essay or a book review connected with the theme of this issue have to contact Sébastien Charles as soon as possible ( and to send him the essay or book review before November 1, 2010.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Cavell and Skepticism

I've just realized that, in 2007, Ashgate published Ludger Viefhues-Bailey's Beyond the Philosopher's Fear: A Cavellian Reading of Gender, Origin and Religion in Modern Skepticism. Information about the book can be found here. A review by Berislav Marušić has just appeared in the European Journal of Philosophy, for which go here.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Skepticism Conference

Here's the program (in Portuguese) for the conference on skepticism which has been organized by Waldomiro Silva and which will take place in Salvador da Bahia (Brazil) on August 23-25.

III International Meeting on Skepticism & XIII Colóquio Nacional sobre Ceticismo

Dia 23 de agosto de 2010

9:00 – 10:00 Conferência de Abertura
"The Pyrrhonist's Dilemma: How to Write Philosophy without Becoming a Philosopher" - Richard Bett (Johns Hopkins University, EUA)

10:00 – 11:00 Conferência
“Pyrrhonian Relativism” - Diego Machuca (CONICET, Argentina)

11:00 – 12:00 Conferência
"Epokhé e Lógos no Pirronismo Grego" - Vitor Hirschbruch Schvartz (USP)

14:30 – 15:30 Conferência
“Skepticism and Metaphysics” - Lorenzo Corti (Swiss National Foundation/Cambridge University)

15:30 – 16:30 Conferência
“Critique de la morale dogmatique et vie sans croyances: Montaigne lecteur de Sextus” - Luiz Eva (UFPRN

Dia 24 de agosto

10:00 – 11:00 Reunião técnica
Reunião das Coordenações do GT-Ceticismo e do GT-História do Ceticismo

11:00 – 12:00 Reunião técnica
Reunião da Comissão de Organização da Internacional Society for the Study of skepticism

14:00 – 15:00 Conferência
“Early Modern Skepticism and the Variety of Certainties” – Dario Perinetti (Université du Québec à Montréal, Canadá)

15:00 – 16:00 Conferência
“Ceticismo e o Novo Mundo” - Danilo Marcondes (PUC-RJ)

16:30 – 17:30 Conferência
"Como um Filósofo Pode se Tornar Um Cético? O Caso de Hume" - Plínio Smith (UNIFESP)

16:45 – 18:00 Conferência
“Skepticism and Cartesianism in Pierre Bayle” - Todd Ryan (Trinity College, Estados Unidos)

Dia 25 de agosto

9:00 – 10:00 Conferência
“Unsafe Reasoning” - Paulo Faria (UFRGS)

10:00 – 11:00 Conferência
“Skepticism and finitude: notes on Stanley Cavell's philosophy” – Jônadas Techio (UFRGS)

11:00 – 12:00 Conferência
“Skepticism and Meaning: Between Kripkestein and Wittgenstein” – Glenda Satne (CONICET, Argentina)

14:30 – 15:30 Conferência
"How to Win a Battle Against the Skeptic: A Contextualist Guide” - André Abath (UFPB)

15:30 – 16:30 Conferência
“Descartes Contra a Probabilidade” - José Raimundo Maia Neto (UFMG)

16:30 – 17:30 Conferência
"Skepticism, theism and atheism in Hume's Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion" – Gianni Paganini (Università del Piemonte Orientale, Itália).

Sunday, August 8, 2010


I've been reading Ray Monk's Ludwig Wittgenstein: The Duty of Genius. The main strength of this biography is that it was written by someone who studied philosophy at York and Oxford and is currently Professor of Philosophy at the University of Southampton (where, by the way, there are several specialists in Wittgenstein). So the author approaches Wittgenstein's life from a philosophical perspective, which makes the book appealing to those interested in the latter's thought. I'm enjoying it very much as I enjoyed reading a French translation of Norman Malcolm's excellent memoir while I was living in Fribourg eight years ago (I remember borrowing the book from a Swiss philosophy student that lived on the same floor).

Someone recommended me Monk's book last year in the UK and I decided to buy it because I had always been kind of puzzled and fascinated by what I knew about Wittgenstein's life and personality. It seems to me that he's an excellent example of how one's philosophical work may be intimately related to one's life. It reminds me that I decided to study philosophy when I was at high school because I was impressed by Camus' "existentialist" literature (as some of you may know, Camus had a degree in philosophy). But it also reminds me of the gap that exists between my academic work and the questions and problems that interest and puzzle me the most. I know that my interest in skepticism is due to my own Weltaunschauung, so to speak, which is characterized by a state of deep ignorance and puzzlement. Still, my work on skepticism does not reflect this, except for a couple of paragraphs here and there. Unfortunately, I only discuss some of those issues when I come accross certain people at conferences or talks. I remember that last year, in Durham, I had an interesting conversation late at night at a pub with a couple of guys after delivering a paper on the Modes of Agrippa. One of them was an Italian graduate history student and the other had studied philosophy at Oxford in the eighties and was deeply influenced by Wittgenstein and (to a lesser degree) by Michael Frede's "urbane" interpretation of Sextus' Pyrrhonism. I suppose we are taught to separate the two things, and I don't think this is something that happens only to those of us who work primarily on the history of philosophy, but also to e.g. present-day epistemologists: we do our job and usually this has little (or nothing) to do with our own philosophical outlook.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Wittgenstein and Skepticism

The other day someone told me about a collective volume entitled Wittgenstein and Scepticism (Routledge, 2004), edited by Denis McManus. For information, go here. I haven't taken a look at the book yet, but I'm sure it must be most interesing, since it includes contributions by, among others, Akeel Bilgrami, Stanley Cavell, James Conant, Maria McGinn, Crispin Wright, and Michael Williams.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Other Minds Skepticism

The latest issue of Ratio features Lilian Alweiss' "Against Cartesian Mistrust: Cavell, Husserl and the Other Mind Sceptic". To access the paper, click here.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

New Journal Devoted to Skepticism

For several reasons, I'll be posting less frequently on Aporia for a while. But I now want to post something about a new journal entirely devoted to skepticism that will be launched next year.

The International Journal for the Study of Skepticism will be edited by Duncan Pritchard (Edinburgh) and myself and will be published twice a year by Brill. The Book Review Editor will be Baron Reed (Northwestern). As some of you already know, the original idea of this project was related to the foundation of the International Society for the Study of Skepticism at the end of 2008. The journal will cover both the history of skepticism and the systematic discussion of skeptical arguments and problems in the fields of epistemology, metaethics, philosophy of religion, philosophy of language, and philosophy of mind. I'll post more information in due course, but you can contact me at this address if you have any questions.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Oxford Studies in Epistemology

Volume 3 of Oxford Studies in Epistemology features the paper "Skeptical Success" by Troy Cross. It also includes Jennifer Lackey's "What Should We Do When We Disagree?", which will be of interest to those working on skepticism and disagreement. For more information, go here.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Skeptical Theism

The latest issue of Philosophy Compass includes Justin McBrayer's "Skeptical Theism". The paper can be found here.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Hume's Skepticism

A recent issue of the Archiv für Geschichte der Philosophie features Donald Ainslie's article "Adequate Ideas and Modest Scepticism in Hume's Metaphysics of Space". To access the paper, go here.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

The Dreaming Argument

The latest issue of Pacific Philosophical Quarterly features the article "Descartes' Resolution of the Dreaming Doubt", by Brad Chynoweth. To access the paper, go here.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Skeptical Hypotheses

The latest issue of The Philosophical Quarterly features James Beebe's "Constraints on Sceptical Hypotheses". To access the paper, click here.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Quine and Skepticism

The latest issue of the International Journal of Philosophical Studies features "Quine's Pragmatic Solution to Sceptical Doubts" by Benjamin Bayer. To access the paper, go here.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Call for Papers

I think some of you will be interested in the following information.

Call for Papers: ‘The Problem of the Criterion’

Special Issue of Philosophical Papers (South Africa)

Guest Editor: Mark Nelson (Westmont College)

The problem of the criterion is one of the most ancient and enduring questions of philosophical methodology. Attributed to Agrippa, the dialellus or ‘wheel’ became a staple of skeptical arguments from Sextus to Montaigne, but it was perhaps given its best-known formulation by R.M. Chisholm:

"To know whether things really are as they seem to be, we must have a procedure for distinguishing appearances that are true from appearances that are false. But to know whether our procedure is a good procedure, we have to know whether it really succeeds in distinguishing appearances that are true from appearances that are false. And we cannot know whether it does really succeed unless we already know which appearances are true and which ones are false. And so we are caught in a circle." [‘The Problem of the Criterion’, 1982]

This problem admits of several interpretations, resists easy solution, and lurks at the bottom of philosophical reflection on knowledge and method in any topic, yet it has received only one book-length treatment in Anglophone philosophy in the last fifty years, Robert Amico’s The Problem of the Criterion (1993). Possible topics for discussion include:

- The problem of the criterion in ancient, modern (Montaigne, Hume, Reid, Hegel), or 20th C epistemology (Moore, Wittgenstein)

- The problem of the criterion as an interpretation or form of skepticism

- The relevance of the problem of the criterion to various kinds of knowledge, e.g., moral, religious, aesthetic, of other minds

- Substantive and methodological commitments in philosophy

- Basic knowledge and the problem of the criterion

- Intuitionism and the problem of the criterion

- Philosophical disagreement and the problem of the criterion

- The problem of the criterion and the method of reflective equilibrium

- The problem of the criterion and the foundationalism/coherentism dichotomy

The deadline for receipt of submission is 30 June 2011. This special edition of Philosophical Papers, which will contain both invited and submitted papers, will appear in November of 2011.

Authors are encouraged to submit manuscripts electronically, prepared as a PDF or Word document attachment, and emailed to <>. Authors should include their full name, affiliation, and address for email correspondence with their submission.

Further enquiries can be addressed to Mark Nelson ( or Ward Jones, Editor, Philosophical Papers (

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Knowledge in an Uncertain World

Last December, Jeremy Fantl and Matt McGrath published Knowledge in an Uncertain World (OUP). I've just read a review at Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews (click here) and I'm sure the book will appeal to those familiar with contemporary epistemological discussions of skepticism.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Pyrrhonism in the 16th Century

Sometime this year, Classiques Garnier will publish Le Phénomène pyrrhonien. Lire le scepticisme au XVIe siècle by Emmanuel Naya (Université de Lumière Lyon 2). I'll post more information as soon as I get it.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Burnyeat's Paper

Last January, I asked if anyone happened to have a copy of Burnyeat's unpublished paper "Carneades was no Probabilist". Luiz Eva has now done us the great favor of scanning his copy. You can download the PDF file here. A warning: the file is quite heavy.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

New Book on Pyrrhonism

It seems that Casey Perin's The Demands of Reason: An Essay on Pyrrhonian Scepticism is about to come out. Some information about it can now be found here. This short book is at least in part based on Perin's paper "Pyrrhonian Scepticism and the Search for Truth" (OSAP 30, 2006). Judging from what I've been able to read on Google Books, one of Perin's main theses is that the Pyrrhonist's search for truth is incompatible with the therapeutic function of his arguments.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Special Issue of Dialectica

I think some of you will be interested in this information. The journal Dialectica is preparing a special issue on "Justification Today". The guest editor is Anne Meylan (Geneva). Here's the presentation of the topic:

Post-Gettier epistemology and the difficulty of analysing knowledge have often led to scepticism about the notion of justification. It has been suggested that one should either move beyond justification or simply get rid of this notion within epistemology. But is the notion of justification really useless if knowledge turns out to be unanalysable ? Is the debate between internalist and externalist conceptions of justification still relevant ? How should we view the relationships between epistemic justification and other kinds of justification (in particular in the ethical case)? Is justification subjective? The aim of this special issue is to help to clarify the seemingly new role that the notion of justification plays in contemporary epistemology by answering these questions. To do so, dialectica invites submissions for publication in a special issue on the topic of Justification Today.

You should send a PDF file prepared for blind reviewing to

Deadline for submission: July, 1. 2010

Notification of acceptance, resubmission, rejection: September, 1. 2010

Final version due: December, 1. 2010

Friday, April 30, 2010

Toronto Epistemology Meeting

On May 11-13, the University of Toronto will host the Third Formal Epistemology Festival. There will be a couple of papers on skepticism. For complete information, go here .

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Scepticisme et Lumières

Last year, I posted information about the conference "Scepticisme et Lumières", which would take place in April 2010 at the Université de Sherbrooke (Montréal). As Chris Laursen made me realize, last month I forgot to post a reminder of this conference. However, some of you might still want to know about the speakers and their papers. So here is the program.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Brazil Epistemology Conference

Epistemology: The Third Brazil Conference will take place at PUCRS in Porto Alegre on June 9-11. The conference is organized by Claudio de Almeida and Stephen Hetherington. The speakers will be:

Fred Adams (Delaware)
Jonathan Adler (Brooklyn College, CUNY)
Heather Battaly (CSU, Fullerton)
Anthony Brueckner (UCSB)
David Christensen (Brown)
Stewart Cohen (Arizona)
Claudio de Almeida (PUCRS)
Paulo Faria (UFRGS)
Richard Fumerton (Iowa)
Alvin Goldman (Rutgers)
Vincent Hendricks (Copenhagen)
Stephen Hetherington (UNSW)
Tom Kelly (Princeton)
Peter Klein (Rutgers)
Saul Kripke (CUNY)
Jennifer Lackey (Northwestern)
William Lycan (UNC, Chapel Hill)
Baron Reed (Northwestern)
Ernest Sosa (Rutgers)

For more information, you can send an email to one of these addresses:;; .

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Upcoming Conference

Waldomiro da Silva Filho has organized a conference on skepticism which will take place at the Universidade Federal da Bahia (Brazil) next August. For information, click on the image below. I'll post the provisional program in due course.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Conference on Ethical Skepticism

Zed Adams has organized a conference entitled "Varieties of Ethical Skepticism", which will be held on April 16th and 17th at the New School of Social Research in New York City. The speakers will be Michael Gill, Peter Kail, Jessica Berry, Mark Richard, and Michael Lynch. For information about the program, go here.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Workshop on Plutarch

On April 8-9, at the École Normale Supérieure de Lyon, there will be a workshop on Plutarch's Adversus Colotem. For complete information about the program and the venue, click on the image below. From what I've heard, among the assistants there will be other important scholars.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Special Issue of RMM

The special issue of the Revue de Métaphysique et de Morale devoted to skepticism has just appeared. For information, go here. Of the seven papers, I've so far only read Marchand's excellent discussion of the ancient Pyrrhonist's search for truth.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Escepticismo Antiguo

There's not much written about ancient skepticism (or skepticism in general) in Spanish. So I'm glad to have received the following two books by Ramón Román Alcalá (Universidad de Córdoba, Spain):

El escepticismo antiguo: posibilidad del conocimiento y búsqueda de la felicidad (Universidad de Córdoba, 1994).

El enigma de la Academia de Platón: escépticos contra dogmáticos en la Grecia clásica (Benerice, 2007).

Monday, March 22, 2010

SSS 2010 Meeting

Below I copy the program information for the meeting of the Society for Skeptical Studies at the 2010 Pacific Division meeting of the APA:

April 3, 2010, 6:00-9:00 p.m.

Chair: Richard Greene (Weber State University)

Otávio Bueno (University of Miami): “Is the Pyrrhonist an Internalist?”

Gavin Enck (University of Tennessee): “Live Skepticism and Genius Testimony”

Eric Thompson (University of Tennessee): “Pragmatic Invariantism and External World Skepticism”

Joel Buenting (University of Alberta): “Some Epistemics of Skeptical Questions”

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Justification Conference

Just a reminder: Episteme - the Epistemology research group in Geneva will hold the Justification Revisited Conference in Geneva on March 25th-27th 2010.

Conference Theme

Post Gettier epistemology and the difficulty of analysing knowledge have often led to scepticism about the notion of justification. It has suggested that one should either move beyond justification or simply get rid of this notion within epistemology. But is the notion of justification useless ? The aim of this conference is to try to reformulate these questions and to try to assess the credentials and the chances of a theory of justification for contemporary epistemology.

The invited speakers are Jessica Brown (University of St Andrews), Richard Fumerton (The University of Iowa), Adam Leite (Indiana University), Jonathan Sutton (Auburn University), Matthias Steup (Purdue University). The conference is organised by Anne Meylan and Episteme within the FNS project Knowledge, Reasons and Norms. Attendance is free. For more information, go here.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

The Regress Problem and Infinitism

At the end of the year, Routledge will publish Epistemology and the Regress Problem by Scott Aikin (Vanderbilt University), who defends a form of infinitism. Some information can be found here.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Wittgenstein and Skepticism

Avrum Stroll (UC, San Diego) recently published "Wittgenstein and the Dream Hypothesis", Philosophia 37 (2009). To access the paper, click here.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Two Papers

Two papers on skepticism have recently been published in Erkenntnis:

Wai-hung Wong, "Internalism about Justification and the Skeptic's Dilemma", Erkenntnis 71/3 (2009). The paper can be found here.

Linton Wang & Oliver Tai, "Skeptical Conclusions", Erkenntnis 72/2 (2010). Here's the link.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

New Article

The paper “Skepticism Between Excessiveness and Idleness”, by Berislav Marusic (Brandeis University), has finally appeared in the European Journal of Philosophy. To access the article, go here.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

New SEP Entry

Katja Vogt's entry on ancient skepticism has just appeared in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. It replaces the former entry by Leo Groarke. To read the new entry, follow this link.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Forthcoming Collective Volume

Next July, MIT Press will publish Knowledge and Skepticism, edited by J. K. Campbell, M. O'Rourke, and H. S. Silverstein. The approach will be both historical and systematic, and among the contributors are some renowned specialists. For information, go here.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

"Skeptical Religion"

J. L. Schellenberg (Mount Saint Vincent University) has recently published the third volume in a trilogy in the field of philosophy of religion: The Will to Imagine: A Justification of Skeptical Religion (Cornell UP, 2009). For information about the book, go here. A review has just appeared in Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews. In a previous post from 2008 I referred to the second volume: The Wisdom to Doubt: A Justification of Religious Skepticism.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Aristotle and Skepticism

I'm looking for the following paper by Barnes: "An Aristotelian Way with Scepticism" (in M. Matthen (ed.), Aristotle Today. Essays on Aristotle's Ideal of Science, Edmonton 1987), but it's turned out to be difficult to find. So any help is most welcome.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Pyrrhonian Ethical Skepticism

The latest issue of Philosophical Issues (nº 19, 2009) features Michael DePaul's "Pyrrhonian Moral Skepticism and the Problem of the Criterion". The paper can be found here.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Cambridge Companion to Ancient Skepticism

At last, The Cambridge Companion to Ancient Scepticism, edited by Richard Bett, has been published. For information, go here.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Series of Talks

On March 23, 24, and 25, Jonathan Vogel (Amherst College) will give a series of talks at the Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana in Mexico City. The subject will be "Critical Overview of Current Approaches to Philosophical Skepticism". For information, you can contact Armando Cíntora at this email address.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Recent Book on Hume

You might be interested to know about Paul Russell's recent book The Riddle of Hume's Treatise: Skepticism, Naturalism, and Irreligion (OUP, 2008). For information, take a look here. A review by Nico Vitz has appeared in Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Radio Talks

Fabien Schang has let me know that there will be a series of radio talks about skepticism during this week, from today to Friday, from 10 to 11am (France time). This forms part of the program "Les Nouveaux Chemins de la Connaissance" on France Culture. Here is the link. I'm somehow surprised by the fact that in France and Germany one can still find this kind of radio talks.

Update: Guillaume Dye has talked about ancient skepticism (especially Sextus) and Frédéric Brahami will talk about Montaigne. There will also be a talk on Pascal.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Skeptical Society Membership

Those scholars and graduate students interested in joining the International Society for the Study of Skepticism can do so by sending an email to this address. They should state their desire to become members and should provide a short bio.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Book on Medieval Skepticism

The collective volume Rethinking the History of Skepticism: The Missing Medieval Background, edited by Henrik Lagerlund, has finally been published by Brill. For information, go here.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Lecture on Sextus

Next Wednesday, at 6 pm, Emidio Spinelli (University of Rome "La Sapienza") will give the lecture "Sextus' Discussion of the Notion of Place (PH III 119-35)" at the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin/Topoi Netzwerk (Hannoversche Strasse 6).

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Grayling on Skepticism

In July 2008, A. C. Grayling (Birkbeck College, University of London) published Scepticism and the Possibility of Knowledge (Continuum). I haven't found any review of this book yet, so if you happen to know anything about it, please let me know. In any case, some basic information can be found here.

I now remember that Grayling contributed a paper to The Skeptics: Contemporary Essays (Ashgate, 2003), edited by Steven Luper.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Mackie's Skepticism

At last, A World Without Values: Essays on John Mackie's Moral Error Theory, edited by Richard Joyce and Simon Kirchin, has been published by Springer. For information, go here. Unfortunately, like most of Springer's publications, the book is a 'little' expensive.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Hume and Skepticism

The latest issue of The Journal of Scottish Philosophy features the article "Hume's Changing Views on the 'Durability' of Scepticism", by Brian Ribeiro (University of Tennessee, Chattanooga). To access the paper, follow this link.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

A Couple of Papers

The first two issues of Oxford Studies in Epistemology feature two papers on skepticism, namely:

"Scepticism, Rationalism, and Externalism", by Brian Weatherson, OSE 1 (2006).

"Basic Justification and the Moorean Response to the Skeptic", by Nico Silins, OSE 2 (2008).

It should be noted that the first issue also features Thomas Kelly's "The Epistemic Significance of Disagreement", which I highly recommend.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Forthcoming Book on Disagreement

In connection with my previous post, I'd like to let you know that in the coming months OUP will publish the collective volume Disagreement, edited by R. Feldman and T. Warfield. Most of the contributors have been working on this subject for some time now, so I think the volume will be an important contribution to the field. For information, click here.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Epistemology of Disagreement

The latest issue of Episteme: A Journal of Social Epistemology is devoted to "The Epistemology of Disagreement", a subject that may be of interest to those working on skepticism, especially on Pyrrhonism. I've been reading quite a lot about this subject lately and it's regrettable that the epistemologists working on it have no knowledge of the ancient Pyrrhonists' subtle discussion of disagreement. To access the issue, click here.

Friday, January 15, 2010

New Paper

The latest issue of the journal Ratio features the paper "Scepticism about Philosophy", by Jason Brennan (Brown University). The PDF file of the printed version can be found here. In theory, you don't need a subscription to access the file.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Recent Book on Timon

Last October, Dee Clayman (CUNY) published Timon of Phlius: Pyrrhonism into Poetry (Walter de Gruyter). I haven't gotten a copy of the book yet, so I have no opinion about it. What I do know is that the approach is primarily literary, not philosophical. For information about the book, go here.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Benson Mates

Only a few days ago, I found out that Benson Mates had died on May 14, 2009. As most of you might know, he spent his whole career at Berkeley. Among his works on skepticism, one must mention his Skeptical Essays (University of Chicago Press, 1981); "On Refuting the Skeptic," Proceedings and Addresses of the American Philosophical Association 58 (1984); and The Skeptic Way: Sextus Empiricus's Outlines of Pyrrhonism (OUP, 1996), which includes a lengthy introduction, a translation of Sextus' Outlines, and a commentary. I haven't read his Skeptical Essays, but the book is still available at the UCP's web site. Mates was among the few scholars who adopted a stance sympathetic to skepticism.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Burnyeat's Unpublished Paper

A friend of mine and I are looking for Myles Burnyeat's much-cited but still unpublished paper "Carneades was no Probabilist" - who knows why it has never been published. If anyone happens to have an electronic version of it, please let me know.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

A Pyrrhonian-Style Novel?

A regular reader of the blog, Pete White (Cornell University), has called my attention to The Interrogative Mood: A Novel? (Ecco, 2009) by Padgett Powell (Depart. of English, University of Florida). I quote White:

"The book consists entirely of 164 pages of questions ranging from the mundane to the profound. A blurb by the writer Richard Ford says it is 'important-feeling in a way you can't quite describe but don't need to'. That statement has a Pyrrhonian feel to it, as does the sensation of reading the book, which comes to no conclusion, could have gone on indefinitely, and raises the problem of the criterion on every page. In my view, it shows rather than tells, an approach that seems very much in the spirit of Pyrrhonism."

Information about the book can be found here.

Sunday, January 3, 2010


The latest issue of Isis: European Journal of Philosophy and Public Debate features a section entitled "Critical Points", the first part of which is devoted to "Contemporary Anti-Skepticism". The table of contents can be found here. There are papers by Duncan Pritchard, Tim Black, John Greco, and Mario De Caro. It is possible to access the abstracts, but the full versions of the papers are available only to subscribers.

Friday, January 1, 2010


I'd just like to wish all the regular and occasional readers of the blog a very happy new year.