Saturday, December 31, 2011

How to Approach Ancient Philosophy

In my last post of the year, I’d like to write about some discussions about ancient philosophy I had with both classicists and epistemologists during my short stay in the US a couple of months ago. But before doing so, let me wish you all a great new year.

In my discussion with classicists, I argued that scholars of ancient philosophy should examine the problems addressed by the authors they study and not merely carry out a philological analysis or comment on the texts or write paraphrases of the texts. Actually, I shouldn’t say “should” because I’m not making a normative claim, but I do think that, if you’re in the business of philosophy, or even the history of philosophy, it may be natural to expect some kind of discussion of philosophical problems. The best examples of this approach in the field of ancient skepticism are Barnes, Burnyeat, and Frede. But most of the time one finds specialists in, e.g., Neoplatonism or Presocratic thought who affirm that the views of the thinkers they study are philosophically important, but are unable to explain what the hell those thinkers are talking about. They only aim at figuring out the internal logic of each system, as it were. But then what they do actually amounts to studying the rules of a game. In a post from more than three years ago, I made similar remarks regarding a workshop on Neoplatonism I attended in Fribourg. Regarding Presocratic philosophy, we’re faced with another problem: can you really spend thirty years studying the philosophy of, e.g., Parmenides or Heraclitus and write several books on the subject? Well, of course you can: I know a couple of people who have done so. I’m not denying that you can get somehow “inspired” by the few extant fragments of a Presocratic and write a book about your own philosophical outlook, but only calling into question that you can find out what Thales, Anaxagoras, Parmenides, or Heraclitus really meant. I may be wrong, though, because despite the fact that so far I’ve mainly worked on ancient skepticism, I’m clearly not an ancient philosophy scholar in the strict sense of the term, and I work as much as I can in contemporary metaethics and epistemology—although I’m not a metaethicist or an epistemologist either.

On the other hand, when talking with epistemologists about ancient philosophy, I was told that knowledge of Greek (or Latin) isn’t necessary to do excellent work in this area. For my part, I argued that, even though this may be true to some extent, they underestimated how useful, and necessary, it is to have some knowledge of those languages. As it is usually pointed out, any translation involves interpretation and it is therefore useful to be able to take a look at the original text when reading a translation. This gives you more independence: otherwise, your interpretation will fully depend on the translator’s interpretation. I was told that there are nowadays excellent, authoritative translations of most ancient works, so one can entirely rely on them. But the problem is that, in many cases, there are several good translations and they don’t agree on certain key points. But even in cases where there’s only one translation, one is still relying on an interpretation with which one would perhaps disagree if one could read the original text. Moreover, thinking about my own work on Sextus Empiricus, some of my views on specific questions were based on my interpretation of the Greek text, and such views have had a significant impact on my overall picture of Sextan Pyrrhonism. Thus, knowing some Greek has in the end contributed to forming a specific picture of Pyrrhonism as a philosophical outlook—an outlook to which I’m extremely sympathetic. I now also remember that, last year, I read a paper by an epistemologist for a volume I edited in which he dealt with Agrippan Pyrrhonism. He used a translation, so I took a look at the Greek passages and found out that the original Greek was closer to his own view than the translation and that, therefore, there were fewer differences between him and Sextus than he had thought.

Now, what was amusing was that in these discussions I was accused of opposite sins. The classicists argued that I was some kind of narrow-minded analytic philosopher utterly ignorant of the fact that, in order to properly study ancient philosophy, it is key to know the historical context and to be able to read some Greek or Latin. For their part, the epistemologists believed that I didn’t realize that, as philosophers or historians of philosophy, we are supposed to think about the problems and arguments found in the ancient texts. I respect both views and think they are perfectly compatible. However, I perceive a considerable degree of blindness and stubbornness in the two camps, which entails that most of the time they talk past each other—if they talk at all.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Skepticism about Moral Expertise

Sarah McGrath (Princeton) recently published "Skepticism about Moral Expertise as a Puzzle for Moral Realism," Journal of Philosophy 108 (2011): 111-137. The paper can be found here. It can also be found on Philosophy Documentation Center's website.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

SSS APA Session

Here's the information about the session that the Society for Skeptical Studies will hold at the Eastern division meeting of the APA (thanks to Richard Greene for the info):

Wednesday, Dec. 28th. GV-10. 5:15-7:15 p.m.


Patrick Hawley (Hong Kong University)


Otávio Bueno (University of Miami): “Skepticism and Externalism: Still in Tension.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Skeptical Theism

A couple of years ago, Trent Dougherty (Baylor) published “Epistemological Considerations Concerning  Skeptical Theism,” Faith and Philosophy 25 (2008): 172-6. The latest issue of the journal features a paper by Jonathan Matheson (North Florida), “Epistemological Considerations Concerning Skeptical Theism: A Response to Dougherty,” Faith and Philosophy 28 (2011): 323-31, together with Dougherty's “Further Epistemological Considerations Concerning Skeptical Theism.” The papers can be found here.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Religious Epistemology

I've just found out about this forthcoming volume on religious epistemology:

D. Lukasiewitcz & R. Pouivet (eds.), The Right to Believe: Perspectives in Religious Epistemology. (Ontos, 2012). Information about the book can be found here.

I imagine that several papers discuss skepticism; at least this one definitely does: "Scepticism and Religious Belief: The Case of Sextus Empiricus," by Renata Zieminska.

PS: Another paper dealing with skepticism is Fabien Schang's "Believing the Self-Contradictory."

Saturday, December 10, 2011

The Problem of the Criterion

The special issue of Philosophical Papers devoted to the problem of the criterion has finally been published. As expected, most of the pieces deal with skepticism. The issue can be found here.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

A Priori Skepticism

The latest issue of PPR features the article "A Priori Skepticism" by James Beebe (Buffalo). It can be found here.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Second Issue Skepticism Journal

I'm glad to announce that the second issue of the International Journal for the Study of Skepticism is now out. You can check it out here. Among other things, this issue features a symposium on Ernest Sosa's Reflective Knowledge, with contributions by John Greco, Richard Fumerton, Michael Williams, and Sosa himself.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Latest Issue of Sképsis

Volume 4, Issue 7 of the Brazilian journal Sképsis is now out. It features papers by Roberto Bolzani Filho, Gianni Paganini, and Todd Ryan, among others. The issue is available for free here.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Issue on Arne Naess

A recent issue of the journal Inquiry is devoted to Arne Naess. One of the articles is Inga Bostad's "The Life and Learning of Arne Naess: Scepticism as a Survival Strategy." It can be found here. I think there are several problems with this paper, but it's still worth reading.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Reviews of Book on Mackie

In previous posts, I referred to a volume on Mackie's ethical skepticism, namely, A World without Values: Essays on John Mackie's Moral Error Theory (Springer, 2010). Last year, Hallvard Lillehammer (Cambridge) published a review of this book in Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews. A couple of weeks ago, my own review was published in the Canadian journal Philosophy in Review.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Religious Disagreement

The following information might be of interest to those working on religious disagreement and skepticism.

Killeen Chair Conference on the Epistemology of Religious Disagreement, hosted by St. Norbert College, Green Bay, Wisconsin April 14th through 15th, 2012 (

Keynote Speakers:

Michael Bergmann (Purdue)
Thomas Kelly (Princeton)
Jennifer Lackey (Northwestern)

Additional Speakers:

Nathan King (Whitworth)
Jonathan Matheson (North Florida)
Andrew Moon (Missouri)
Tim Pickavance (Biola)

The organizing committee invites the submission of papers for two or three additional speakers. Papers should relate in some way to the epistemic significance of religious disagreement, and each should be suitable for a thirty-five minute presentation (roughly 3,500 words). Papers should be prepared for blind review and submitted electronically. Please send your file attached to an e-mail message in which you state your name, contact information, and the title of your paper. Preferred file formats include Word 97-2003 (.doc), Word 2007 (.docx), and PDF. Please send submissions to The deadline for submissions is Friday, February 10th, 2012. The organizing committee warmly invites all interested philosophers to attend and participate in the conference. If you plan to attend, please email Tomas Bogardus at the above address so that we can plan to accommodate the group's size. Commentators will be selected for some papers. If you would be willing to comment, please indicate your interest in an email (with a current CV attached) by Friday, February 10th, 2012. One need not present a paper in order to serve as a commentator. For further information on the Killeen Chair in Theology & Philosophy, please visit

Monday, November 7, 2011

Closure and Skepticism

The latest issue of Pacific Philosophical Quarterly features "No Closure on Skepticism," by Y. Avnur, A. Brueckner, and C. Bubord. The paper can be found here.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Medieval Skepticism

On November 9-10, an "atelier" on medieval philosophy entitled "Vérités probables, scepticisme et autorité" will be held at the Université de Fribourg (Switzerland). On the first day, there will be a talk and a workshop on skepticism:

15:15-16:45 (Miséricorde, salle 3115)

Christophe Grellard (maître de conférences, Université Paris I-Sorbonne): "Le scepticisme au moyen âge".

17:15-19:00 (Miséricorde, salle 2122 AB)

"Le scepticisme de Jean de Salisbury" sous la direction de Christophe Grellard.

For more information, you can contact the organizers at

Friday, October 28, 2011

Neo-Moorean Response to the Skeptic

Adam Carter (Belfast) recently published "Radical Skepticism, Closure, and Robust Knowledge," Journal of Philosophical Reasearch 36 (2011): 115-33. The contents of this journal are available on the Philosophy Documentation Center: click here.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Moral Error Theory

A couple of years ago, Stephen Finlay published "The Error in the Error Theory," Australasian Journal of Philosophy 86 (2008): 347-69. There is now a response by Richard Joyce, "The Error in ‘The Error in the Error Theory'," Australasian Journal of Philosophy 89 (2011): 519-34, together with a reply by Finlay, "Errors Upon Errors: A Reply to Joyce," Australasian Journal of Philosophy 89 (2011): 535-47.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Serbian Book on Ancient Skepticism

During my short visit to Baltimore, I found out about a book on ancient skepticism published in Belgrade a few years ago:

Skeptički priručnik 1: Antički skepticizam (A Handbook on Skepticism 1: Ancient Skepticism). Beograd: Filozofski fakultet / Institut za filozofiju, 2007. 

The book contains an introduction by Pavle Stojanović (PhD candidate at Johns Hopkins), and a Serbian translation of Sextus Empiricus' Outlines of Pyrrhonism, book I, and of Cicero's Academica.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Review of Scepticism Comes Alive

Jonathan Adler's review essay of Bryan Frances' Scepticism Comes Alive (OUP, 2005) has just appeared in PPR. The paper can be found here.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Augustine, Epicurus, and Skepticism

I've just found a prima facie interesting article published a few years ago:

C. Bolyard, "Augustine, Epicurus, and External World Skepticism," Journal of the History of Philosophy 44 (2006): 157-68.

The paper can be found here.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

A Swamp with Deers

The reason I haven't posted much these days is that, since last Monday, I'm in Washington, DC, with a research fellowship. This is my first time in the US and I'm going to be here only for three weeks, so I'm trying to enjoy the place.

DC is insanely humid and sticky (much more than Bs. As.), but one of the things I like the most about this place is that one can stumble upon deers quite often. These animals are so bloody cool. The other night, I got lost in the woods near the place where I'm staying, and at one point I found myself standing by a really big one -- I think he even had antlers.

As regards academic activities, I'm going to present two papers on skepticism and disagreement, a topic on which I've been working for a while. The talks will be at Northwestern and Johns Hopkins, and I expect to receive artillery fire, which will be a good test. I'm also supposed to present a report on my research project on whether the skeptic can search for truth. I'm still thinking about how to do it, since no one else here works on skepticism and I feel I won't be able to say anything intelligible.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Workshop in Brazil

On October 5-7, a workshop entitled "Crença, Razão e Autoconhecimento" (Belief, Reason, and Self-Knowledge) will be held in Salvador, Bahia (Brazil). The event is organized by the Programa de Pós-graduação de Filosofia, Faculdade de Filosofia e Ciências Humanas da UFBA. Here is the program (in Portuguese):

05 de outubro:

9h: Plínio J. Smith (UNIFESP, CNPq): "Porchat e o conflito das filosofias."

15h: Paulo F. E. Faria (UFRGS, CNPq): "Principio de fechamento epistêmico e o princípio de transmissibilidade da justificação"

06 de outubro

9h: Pablo Quintanilla (Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú): "Autoconocimiento: Una perspectiva evolutiva y comparativa."

15h: Waldomiro J. Silva Filho (UFBA, CNPq): "Vivendo sem ideias claras e distintas."

07 de outubro

9h: Plínio J. Smith (UNIFESP, CNPq): "Consciência, vaidade e surpresa."

For more information, contact Waldomiro Silva at

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Evolution and Skepticism

A recent issue of the South African journal Philosophical Papers features Greg Littmann's "Darwin's Doubt Defended: Why Evolution Supports Skepticism". The paper can be downloaded for free here.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Workshop on Wittgenstein's On Certainty

On September 20th, a workshop on Wittgenstein's On Certainty will be held at the University of Hertfordshire, De Havilland Campus, Room N106, from 1 to 5 pm. The occasion will be the UK launch of Annalisa Coliva's Moore and Wittgenstein: Scepticism, Certainty and Common Sense (Palgrave Macmillan, 2010). There will be 30-minute talks by Annalisa Coliva, Britt Harrison, and Danièle Moyal-Sharrock, to be followed by coffee and a substantial discussion period involving the audience. Although the workshop is free, registration is required: send an email to

Monday, September 5, 2011

Routledge Companion to Epistemology

The Routledge Companion to Epistemology (2011), edited by Sven Bernecker and Duncan Pritchard, contains two parts dealing explicitly with skepticism:

Part 5: Skepticism
37. "Phyrrhonian Skepticism," Richard Bett
38. "Cartesian Skepticism," Steven Luper
39. "Skeptical Doubts About Self-Knowledge," Fred Dretske
40. "Skepticism About Knowledge of Other Minds," Anita Avramides
41. "Skepticism About Inductive Knowledge," Joe Morrison
42. "Rule-Following Skepticism," Alexander Miller
43. "Moral Skepticism," Geoffrey Sayre-McCord

Part 6: Responses to Skepticism
44. "Skepticism and Anti-Realism," Richard Schantz
45. "Skepticism and Epistemic Externalism," Richard Fumerton
46. "Skepticism and Semantic Externalism," Anthony Brueckner

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

OBO Entry on the Epistemology of Disagreement

Another excellent entry in the Oxford Bibliographies Online which may be of interest to those working on skepticism is the one on the epistemology of disagreement by Jennifer Lackey (Northwestern). You can find it here.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Two Positions at Uppsala University


Yesterday, I received an email about two new positions at Uppsala University, one as Chair in Theoretical Philosophy and one as Chair in Aesthetics. Information can be found here and here, respectively. To the best of my knowledge, Uppsala is an excellent university and these two positions look quite attractive.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Papers on McDowell & Skeptical Scenarios

The latest issue of the European Journal of Philosophy features two papers on contemporary skepticism:

- "McDowell's Conceptualist Therapy for Skepticism," by Santiago Echeverri.

- "On the Possibility of Skeptical Scenarios," by Peter Kung.

Both papers can be found here.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Monday, August 15, 2011

OBO Entry on Contemporary Skepticism

In Oxford Bibliographies Online, one can also find an entry on contemporary skepticism by Duncan Pritchard (Edinburgh). You can access it by clicking here.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Another Volume on Pyrrhonism

The volume New Essays on Ancient Pyrrhonism (Brill) is now out, too. Full information can be found here. It's just coincidence that this volume and the one mentioned in the previous post have come out at the same time. They are both "a little" pricey, but you'll probably be able to find them at your university library.

This may look like shameless self-publicitiy, but in my defense I could say that the two books are collective projects involving eighteen other scholars.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Volume on Pyrrhonism

The collective volume Pyrrhonism in Ancient, Modern, and Contemporary Philosophy (Springer) is now out. Full information can be found here.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

New Wittgenstein Journal and Call for Papers

As some of you may know, a few months ago, the Nordic Wittgenstein Society decided to launch a new journal, the Nordic Wittgenstein Review (Ontos Verlag). There is now a call for papers for the first issue. Information about this and a detailed description of the journal can be found here.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Review of Nietzsche and the Ancient Skeptical Tradition

A review of Jessica Berry's Nietzsche and the Ancient Skeptical Tradition (OUP, 2011), by Beatrix Himmelmann, was recently published in Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Forthcoming Book on Aenesidemus

I've just found out that a new book by Roberto Polito, Aenesidemus of Cnossus: Testimonia (an edition with commentary), is forthcoming at Cambridge University Press. Polito (now at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin) is the author of The Sceptical Road: Aenesidemus' Appropriation of Heraclitus (Brill, 2004).

Monday, July 18, 2011

OBO Entry on the History of Skepticism

Baron Reed (Northwestern University) has recently published an entry on the history of skepticism in Oxford Bibliographies Online. You can find it here.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Philosophy East & West

A couple of months ago, and thanks to Richard Garner, I found out about a special issue on skepticism in the journal Philosophy East and West 27 (1977). Particularly interesting is Garner's “Skepticism, Ordinary Language, and Zen Buddhism.” The issue can be found here.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Philosophy TV

On Philosophy TV, there are two discussions that might be of interest to those working on the connection between skepticism and the epistemology of disagreement and social epistemology more generally:

A discussion between Roy Sorensen and David Christensen on the epistemology of disagreement, which can be found here.

A discussion between Alvin Goldman and Jennifer Lackey on social epistemology, which can be found here.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Review of Aikin's Book

A review of Scott Aikin's Epistemology and the Regress Problem (Routledge, 2011), by Kelly Becker, was recently published in Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Morality, Evolution, Disgust

The following two books will be of interest to those studying the "evolution of morality" and its possible skeptical implications:

Peter Singer, The Expanding Circle: Ethics, Evolution, and Moral Progress, with a new afterword by the author (Princeton University Press, 2011). More information can be found here.

Daniel Kelly, Yuck! The Nature and Moral Significance of Disgust (MIT Press, 2011). For information, go here.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Nietzsche's Political Skepticism

I recently found out about Tamsin Shaw's Nietzsche's Political Skepticism (Princeton University Press, 2007). For more information, click here. A positive review of this book was published in Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Argument from Possible Disagreement

A paper of mine, "The Pyrrhonian Argument from Possible Disagreement," has just been published in Archiv für Geschichte der Philosophie. In case you're interested, you can check it out here. In this paper, I deal with an argument based on the possibility of disagreement that is used in five passages of Sextus's Pyrrhonian Outlines. The argument has been examined in a couple of books and articles, but only briefly.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Review of The Demands of Reason

Last week, a new review of Casey Perin's learned book, The Demands of Reason (OUP, 2010), by Eleni Kaklamanou, was published in Bryn Mawr Classical Review.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

New Paper on Sextus

Shaul Tor (Cambridge) recently published an insightful article on Sextus: “Argument and Signification in Sextus Empiricus: Against the Mathematicians VIII 289-290,” Rhizai 7/1 (2010): 63-90. Articles published in this journal are available online here, but unfortunately the last two issues have not been uploaded.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Call for Papers

Stéphane Marchand has let me know about the following call for papers.

Papers are invited for presentation on the topic “Academic Skepticism: Philosophical Reflections on Knowledge and Rhetoric,” for a two-day workshop in the frame of the 13th International Conference of the International Society for the Study of European Ideas (ISSEI). This will take place at University of Cyprus, Nicosia, on July 2-6, 2012. The workshop will be devoted on one day to Ancient Academic Skepticism and on the other day to Modern Academic Skepticism.

Please submit an abstract (one page) by January 1st, 2012 to Luiz Eva, in charge of the workshop on Ancient Academic Skepticism, at, or to Sébastien Charles, in charge of the workshop on Modern Academic Skepticism, at

Speakers will have 20 to 30 minutes to present their papers in English or French (exact length to be confirmed, depending on the number of papers accepted).

Monday, June 6, 2011

Pyrrho in Cicero

The latest issue of Vita Latina (183-4, 2011) features François Prost's "Pyrrhon chez Cicéron". Unfortunately, I don't know anything about the specific content of the paper or its author (but Brigitte Pérez has now let me know that he teaches at the Sorbonne University). There's not much information on the journal's website.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Reviews of the Cambridge Companion to Ancient Scepticism

Harold Tarrant's review of The Cambridge Companion to Ancient Scepticism (CUP, 2010) was recently published in Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews.

Some time ago, I too wrote a review of this volume, which has just appeared in British Journal for the History of Philosophy. You can check it out here.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Evolution and Morality

Those working on ethical skepticism will be interested to know that Guy Kahane (Oxford) recently published the paper "Evolutionary Debunking Arguments" in Noûs. At the moment, the paper can be downloaded for free here.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Sextus and Rhetoric

The second talk below might be of interest to those living in Paris and working on ancient skepticism:

Dans le cadre du Séminaire de Philosophie Hellénistique et Romaine aura lieu, le samedi 28 mai de 10h à 12h à la Sorbonne (Salle Grec 1,16 rue de la Sorbonne), une séance du Cycle Pluriannuel Rhétorique et Écoles Philosophiques. Deux conférences y seront proposées:

Marie-Pierre Noël (Montpellier 3): "La rhétorique de Platon."

Carlos Lévy (Paris Sorbonne): "La rhétorique de Sextus."

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


First of all, I apologize to those who read Aporia because of their interest in skepticism—I’ve got a few new posts on skepticism in the pipeline which I haven’t been able to post yet. But there are things that make me feel dismayed. Also, right now I should be working on a few book reviews and papers, but thinking, reading, and writing about the Synthese affair makes it difficult to focus on other things. So I hope this will be my last post on this affair.

An argument to which I referred in my previous post seems to be gaining force: it is not advisable for (young) scholars to submit their papers to Synthese anymore because of the new bad reputation of the journal. I cannot find any serious basis for this argument because nothing in the Synthese affair implies that any one of the papers published in the journal isn’t of high quality. Also, as I have said many times, there was no censorship, that is, no part of any paper was changed or removed once it was accepted for publication. So, if anyone asked me what to do, I’d just say: “Go ahead and submit your paper to Synthese.” Unfortunately, I don’t have anything I could submit to them. It seems to me that the argument in question is not reflecting a fact but rather trying to boycott the journal by making scholars feel afraid of having their papers published in Synthese. I don’t know how things work in the States (or Canada), but I hope that no department will pay attention to such an argument. Well... unless Sarah Palin is the department chair.

I think that right now there are two issues that should be distinguished: the behavior of the Synthese editors and the “political” behavior of those scholars who are trying to boycott the journal. Our business should be philosophy, not the manifestation or the concentration of power.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Again on the Synthese Affair

Brian Leiter has posted a comment on my previous post on the Synthese affair. The reason I didn't accept it three hours ago was that I was away from my computer. I think that his comment deserves to be reproduced in a new post and that I should try to respond to it.

"Here's another question: who is Diego Machuca and why is he obsessed with me (see the Certain Doubts blog for his first intervention) and why does he feel free to misrepresent what's been going on so outrageously?

What I actually wrote on May 21, after the petition signed by 470 philosophers failed to generate a satisfactory response, was the following: "It seems, at this point, that there are now two options, given the intransigence of the Synthese editors with respect to the core issues of misconduct. One option remains a boycott of the journal, by both contributors and referees. The second, which several philosophers have now raised (and one of whom, a distinguished senior figure in the fields in which Synthese publishes, has raised directly with the publisher), is to demand the resignation of the editors responsible for this mess. Right now, it would be fair to say, the stink of this affair hovers over what everyone agrees has been a very good and important journal in the field. Some philosophers feel that only a complete turnover in editorial management will suffice. I invite signatories to the petition to weigh in with their thoughts on what should be done now."

That's the full extent of my alleged "demand" that the editors resign. Others have suggested it, I wanted to gauge what others thought about this suggestion, and about the boycott.

The subsequent poll revealed, contrary to Dr. Marchuca's continued misrepresentation, that hundreds of philosophers agree with my opinion, including some 200 who favor a boycott now.

But what is particularly puzzling is the suggestion that I am not allowed to have an opinion about this matter and express it unless lots of other philosophers agree with me. Why should I be so constrained in my right to express my views?

That you, Dr. Machuca, do not appreciate the seriousness of the editorial misconduct at issue or its consequences for science education in the United States does not mean I am "obsessed" and it certainly does not justify a blog purportedly about skepticism being turned into a forum for an irrelevant personal attack on me. Shame on you."

First of all, thanks for your comment, Professor Leiter. Here are some remarks in response to yours:

(1) This blog is indeed devoted to skepticism, but very rarely I write off-topic posts when I feel like expressing my impressions about other academic or scholarly issues. In addition, since it is my blog, I can write posts on any subject I want, and readers can decide whether to stop reading it.

(2) Who is Diego Machuca? As I said in my previous post, I’m not an important member of the philosophical community, but I do speak my mind. I’m surprised by your claim that I’m obsessed with you. You base your claim on my two comments on John Turri’s post on Certain Doubts and my post here. In the second comment I don’t mention you at all, whereas in the first one I only say that it seems to me that you’re obsessed with the affair. Since I used “seems,” I left open the possibility that I may be wrong (note that in my previous post I used “apparently” and “seemingly” a few times), but I must confess that you do seem quite obsessed. That’s not a personal attack; it’s just that your behavior looks extreme to me.

(3) I already said, both in my comments on Certain Doubts and in my previous post, that I don’t agree with what the Synthese editors did. The difference is that I don’t think that what they did licenses us to try to boycott the journal. Neither do I think that what happened will exert any influence on science education in the US. The articles against ID are there (again, there was no censorship) and intelligent readers will weigh the force of the arguments. Those who are dogmatic will remain dogmatic, I suppose.

(4) I never said that you’re not allowed to express your views, did I? (Reread my previous post.) What I said was that those of us who are not involved can voice our opinions (including the opinion that the editors should resign), but that we don’t seem to have the right to demand the resignation of the editors.

(5) I mentioned your name because Leiter Reports is your blog and because you seem to be the spokesman of quite a few people. (I must admit that when I said that a few dozens of scholars agree with you, I should have said “a few hundreds.”) But my criticisms were directed at all those who are trying to boycott the journal so fiercily.

(6) If you’re really intellectually honest, you should admit that you have undertaken a campaign against the journal and that you want the editors to resign.

Monday, May 23, 2011

The Synthese Affair


As some of you may know, there has lately been a heated discussion about the attitude adopted by the editors-in-chief of the journal Synthese in the case of the 2009 special issue “Evolution and Its Rivals.” To get an overview of this affair, you can take a look at, e.g., this post and this post on Brian Leiter’s well-known blog. Since I think that Leiter and other scholars have adopted an extreme position (they are now demanding the resignation of the editors-in-chief), I’d like to say something here even though I’m not an important member of the “philosophical community.” (And just to be clear, I’m not a supporter of Intelligent Design.)

I do think that the Synthese editors-in-chief shouldn’t have inserted the disclaimer behind the guest editors’ backs. It seems to me that they have now paid the price for what they did, since lots of people know what they did, they have been strongly criticized in a number of blogs, and the issue has even been discussed in an article in the New York Times (check it out here). However, it also seems to me that Leiter is kind of obsessed with this affair and I wonder why. I ask myself: who is Brian Leiter to demand the resignation of the Synthese editors? If some members of the philosophical community aren’t happy with what the editors did, then they have of course the right to decide not to submit their papers to Synthese or not to review for them—Leiter has actually been asking people to do precisely this. But resignation is a decision that should be taken only by the editors-in-chief and the publisher—people should remember that there are contracts in play between editors and publishers. I think that the affair concerns the editors-in-chief, the guest editors, the authors, and the publisher. The rest of us can voice our opinions about the affair, including the opinion that the editors-in-chief should resign, but I don’t think we are entitled to actually demand that they do so or to insistently try to organize a boycott against the journal.

It is clear from what I’ve heard from scholars from North America that some people think that the cost of crossing Leiter is high. I confess I don’t care whether the price is high or low. Among other things, Leiter is a well-known Nietzsche scholar and the editor of the Philosophy Gourmet Report, and his philosophy blog is widely read. But so what? I think it’s silly that a guy takes himself to be the voice of the philosophical community and that he starts this kind of fierce campaign against a journal based on reasons that don’t seem to warrant such a campaign. He has been trying to organize a general boycott, but even though he has not succeeded, he continues to promote this instead of accepting that a lot of people don’t agree with him.

We should bear in mind that the papers against Intelligent Design were published without modifications in the special issue so that anyone can read them and draw their own conclusions. So there was no censorship. The affair doesn’t change my view of the journal either in itself or under its current editorship. One can see that the editors-in-chief behaved in a seemingly silly and disrespectful way. But it is stupid to believe, as some have claimed, that what the editors-in-chief did should lower our opinion of the journal. Synthese is a leading journal where quality is (as far as I know) the editors’ sole criterion of acceptance for publication, and they didn’t stop the publication of any of the articles in the special issue. In addition, I don’t think (again against what some people have claimed) that if you now publish a paper in Synthese, it will reflect negatively in your CV. Why should that be the case? It is plain to me that Leiter’s campaign, endorsed by a few dozens of scholars, is affecting negatively Synthese and this is a real shame.

I could say a few other things, but I think this is enough to make my point of view clear. I wish I could counterbalance a little bit the (apparently) extreme position adopted by Leiter and others, and I hope I’m voicing what other people think but perhaps don’t dare to say.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Pyrrhonian Modes

Emidio Spinelli has called my attention to the following recent article on the Pyrrhonian modes of suspension of judgment:

Nathan Powers, "The System of Sceptical Modes in Sextus Empiricus," Apeiron 43 (2010): 157-71. The paper can be found here.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

First Issue Skepticism Journal

I'm pleased to announce that the first issue of the International Journal for the Study of Skepticism, edited by Duncan Pritchard and myself with the support of Baron Reed as reviews editor, is now out. You can access it by clicking here. Since it is the first issue, the articles can be downloaded for free.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Pyrrhonism and Ordinary Language

On May 19th, there will be a conference on ancient philosophy and ordinary language at the Université catholique de Louvain (Belgium). Emidio Spinelli (Rome) will give the talk, "Contre la rhétorique: langage pyrrhonien et 'usage commun de la vie' selon Sextus Empiricus." For more information, go here.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Sinnott-Armstrong's Neo-Pyrrhonism

Folke Tersman (Uppsala University) recently published "Contrasts and Demons: On Sinnott-Armstrong’s Moderate Pyrrhonian Scepticism," in L. Haaparanta (ed.), Rearticulations of Reason. Recent Currents. Acta Philosophica Fennica 88 (2010): 243-60. As far as I know, there's no online version of this journal.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Journal Episteme

I here reproduce information already posted on a couple of other blogs:


The journal EPISTEME announces an impending move and transformation. With the first issue of 2012 we begin publication with Cambridge University Press and expand our scope from social epistemology specifically to all of epistemology. Our new title will be: Episteme, A Journal of Individual and Social Epistemology. EPISTEME has published since 2004 with Edinburgh University Press. With Cambridge we shall publish four issues per year, approximately 500 pages per volume. Cambridge will include EPISTEME in a bundle of journals to which 1,500 institutions already subscribe.

Scope and Mission Statement. EPISTEME is a general journal of epistemology in the analytic tradition that invites both informal and formal approaches. Among its primary “traditional” topics are knowledge, justification, evidence, reasons, rationality, skepticism, truth, probability, epistemic norms and values, and methodology. The journal devotes special attention to topics in social epistemology, including testimony, trust, disagreement, relativism, diversity and expertise, collective judgment, and the epistemic assessment of social institutions (e.g., science, law, democracy, and the media). The journal welcomes interdisciplinary approaches to epistemology that borrow methods from allied disciplines such as experimental psychology, linguistics, economics, game theory, evolutionary theory, and computer simulation studies. We do not publish purely historical work or case studies.

Editorial Team


Alvin Goldman (Rutgers)

Associate Editors

Jessica Brown (St. Andrews)

Igor Douven (Groningen)

Don Fallis (Arizona)

Branden Fitelson (Rutgers)

Jennifer Lackey (Northwestern)

Christian List (London School of Economics)

Jack Lyons (Arkansas)

Matthew McGrath (Missouri)

Jonathan Schaffer (Rutgers)

Frederick Schmitt (Indiana)

Jonathan Weinberg (Arizona)

Michael Weisberg (University of Pennsylvania)

The first issue of 2012, guest-edited by Jennifer Lackey, will include the following contents:

(1) A symposium on pragmatic encroachment, with papers by Jessica Brown, Jeremy Fantl and Matthew McGrath, and Jason Stanley;

(2) A paper on the epistemic case for multiple-vote majority rule, by Richard Bradley and Christopher Thompson; and

(3) A critical notice of Sanford Goldberg's Relying on Others, by Mikkel Gerken.

Previous Contributors. In our eight years of publication with Edinburgh (when we specialized in social epistemology exclusively), our pages have featured work by the following authors, among others: Jonathan Adler, Elizabeth Anderson, Michael Bergmann, Paul Boghossian, Albert Casullo, David Christensen, Earl Conee, Igor Douven, David Estlund, Richard Feldman, Branden Fitelson, Richard Foley, Miranda Fricker, Margaret Gilbert, Sanford Goldberg, John Greco, Susan Haack, Christopher Hookway, Philip Kitcher, Hilary Kornblith, Jennifer Lackey, Larry Laudan, Peter Lipton, Christian List, Helen Longino, Ram Neta, Philip Pettit, Nicholas Rescher, Gideon Rosen, Sherrilyn Roush, Walter Sinnott-Armstrong, Michael Strevens, Jonathan Weinberg, Roger White, Michael Williams, and Linda Zagzebski.

The journal welcomes submissions for publication in 2012 and thereafter. Manuscripts should be directed to: Manuscripts should be anonymized, and should be accompanied by a separate file containing an abstract, author identification (including institution), and contact information.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Moore, Wittgenstein, and Skepticism

Annalisa Coliva (University of Modena and Reggio Emilia) recently published her Moore and Wittgenstein: Scepticism, Certainty and Common Sense (Palgrave Macmillan, 2010). For more information, go here. This is actually the revised and expanded version of a book originally published in Italian in 2003. About a month ago, a review of the book appeared in Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews.

Incidentally, there is a collective volume dealing with Wittgenstein published by the same press in 2010: Nuno Venturinha (ed.), Wittgenstein after His Nachlass. The book's web page can be found here and recent reviews can be read here and here.

Friday, April 29, 2011

New Issue of Sképsis

The latest issue of the Brazilian journal Sképsis is available online here. As you already know, the papers can be downloaded for free.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Truth and Skepticism

Robert Almeder recently published Truth and Skepticism (Rowman & Littlefield, 2010), where he defends a pragmatist epistemological stance. More information can be found here.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Studia Philosophica

I've just discovered that the 2009 issue of Studia Philosophica (published by La Société Suisse de Philosophie) was devoted to the subject "forms of irrationality". There is one paper which directly deals with skepticism, namely, Yves Bossart's "Sind pyrrhonische Skeptiker irrational? Radikale Skepsis und die Grenzen der Rationalität". (Unfortunately, my German is very poor, but I'll spend some time trying to figure out what the author says because I wrote a paper on this specific subject.) The whole issue can be accessed for free here.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

SSS 2011 Meeting

Here is the program for the session of the Society for Skeptical Studies at the Pacific Division meeting of the APA:

Saturday, April 23rd, at 6:00-8:00 p.m.

Chair: Sven Bernecker (University of California, Irvine)

Renata Zieminska (Uniwersytet Szczeciński): “Inconsistency of Pyrrhonian Skepticism.”

Heather Battaly (California State University, Fullerton): “Sosa’s Reflective Knowledge: How Damaging Is Epistemic Circularity?”

Friday, April 15, 2011

Mini-Course on Ancient Skepticism

Those living in Brazil will be interested in the following information:



Programa de Pós Graduação em Filosofia da UFBA, Faculdade de Filosofia e Ciências Humanas, Estrada de São Lázaro, nº 197 - Federação, CEP: 40210-730. Salvador, Brazil


Pretende-se apresentar as principais características e conceitos do chamado Ceticismo Pirrônico grego, que floresceu e se desenvolveu entre os séculos IV a. C. e III d. C. Desde Pirro de Elis, filósofo sobre o qual pouco se sabe, até o médico Sexto Empírico, que provavelmente viveu em Alexandria na era cristã, passando por pensadores como Enesidemo e Agripa, essa corrente filosófica elaborou uma forma de pensamento dotada de coerência e consistência interna. Nas três aulas, tratar-se-á de comentar como se pode ver essa filosofia como um todo sistemático, abordando as noções fundamentais que a definiram.


1. Primeira aula (18/04, 11:00 ÀS 12:30h): "A procura da verdade, o conflito filosófico e a suspensão de juízo."

2. Segunda aula (19/04, 11:00 ÀS 12:30h): "O critério fenomênico de conduta."

3. Terceira aula (20/04, 11:00 ÀS 12:30h): "Concepção empírico-experimental de técnica fenomênica."

As Inscrições serão realizadas na na Secretaria da Faculdade de Filosofia e Ciências Humanas da UFBA.


Faculdade de Filosofia e Ciências Humanas da UFBA.

Estrada de São Lázaro, 197 - Federação

Salvador - Bahia - 40210-730

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Ancient Empiricism and Early Modern Medicine

Pete White has called my attention to a paper that might be of interest to those working on skepticism and the ancient empirical school of medicine:

Gianna Pomata, "A Word of the Empirics: The Ancient Concept of Observation and its Recovery in Early Modern Medicine," Annals of Science 68. The article can be found here.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

US in September

Probably in September, I'll spend two weeks at the Center for Hellenic Studies in Washington with a research fellowship. If possible, I'll try to spend one more week in the US and try to attend some talks/conferences/workshops in the area. So if any reader from the US knows of any event on skepticism in ancient philosophy, epistemology, or metaethics, please let me know. Thanks.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Conference on Hume and Religious Skepticism

Sébastien Charles and Noémie Verhoef (Sherbrooke) have organized the conference "Athéisme, déisme et scepticisme au siècle des Lumières: les Dialogues sur la religion naturelle de Hume," which will take place at the Université de Sherbrooke on May 9-11. Complete information can be found here.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Berkeley and Skepticism

The latest issue of the British Journal for the History of Philosophy features Jonathan Hill's "Berkeley's Missing Argument: The Sceptical Attack on Intentionality". The paper can be found here.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Ancient Skepticism - Philosophy Compass

I don't usually post information about my publications, but in this case I'll make an exception: a series of three articles on ancient skepticism which I wrote a while ago has just come out in Philosophy Compass. I'm not completely satisfied with the final result: it's difficult to write a survey article which must be accessible to non-specialists but which at the same cannot be elementary. In any case, these three pieces give at least a good overview of the scholarly literature, not only in English, but also in French, Italian, and (to a much lesser extent) German and Spanish. In addition, some parts of the section on Sextus Empiricus in the third article  in particular, the discussion of the nature and purpose of the Pyrrhonist's investigation contain a couple of (what I think are) original thoughts/interpretations.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Skepticism & Evil

The latest issue of the Australasian Journal of Philosophy features Jim Stone's "CORNEA, Scepticism and Evil". To access the paper, click here.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Philosophical Perspectives

The latest issue of Philosophical Perspectives features articles on epistemology by an impressive lineup of specialists. Click here to access the issue.

Monday, March 21, 2011

One-Day Conference on Skepticism

Next Friday 25, there will be a journée d'étude on skepticism ("Polémiques autour du scepticisme") at the École Normale Supérieure de Lyon (Site Descartes, Salle F 101). Here's the program:

9h30-10h15: Stéphane Marchand, "Doute et scepticisme dans la tradition pyrrhonienne".

10h15-11h: Emmanuel Naya, "Réception et distorsions du scepticisme à la Renaissance".

11h15-12h: Gianni Paganini, "Entre l'épochè et le doute. Petite histoire de l'impossibilité de vivre le scepticisme".

12h-12h45: Delphine Kolesnik-Antoine, "Peut-on penser un 'cartesianisme sceptique'? Philosophie première et philosophie naturelle chez Regius".

14h-14h45: Sylvia Giocanti, "La détermination cartésienne à se débarrasser du scepticisme".

14h45-15h30: Nawalle El Yadari, "Pascal et le retournement de la déraison sceptique".

16h-16h45: Elodie Argaud, "Un gauchissement contre un autre? Scepticisme et épicurisme autour de l'argument du consentement universel dans la Continuation des Pensées diverses".

16h45-17h30: Jean-Pierre Grima, "Le scepticisme des Lumières".

Friday, March 18, 2011

Moral Error Theory

Those working on contemporary ethical skepticism will be interested to know about two relatively recent papers on the moral error theory by Hallvard Lillehammer (Univ. of Cambridge):

- "Debunking Morality: Evolutionary Naturalism and Moral Error Theory," Biology and Philosophy 18 (2003). Downloadable here.

- "Moral Error Theory," Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 104 (2004). Downloadable here

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Critical Notice of "Kant and Skepticism"

The latest issue of Philosophical Books features a critical notice of Michael Forster's Kant and Skepticism by Andrew Chignell and Colin McLear. It can be found here.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Neuroscience and Morality

Those working on ethical skepticism will be interested to know that, next April, Princeton University Press is going to publish Patricia Churchland's Braintrust: What Neuroscience Tells Us about Morality. For information about the book, go here. On YouTube there's a video in which Churchland briefly expounds the views discussed in her book.

There has recently been much discussion of what evolutionary biology, neuroscience, and experimental psychology can tell us about the origin and epistemic credentials of our moral beliefs. The first books that come to mind right now are Richard Joyce's The Evolution of Morality (MIT Press, 2006) and the three-volume Moral Psychology (MIT Press, 2008) edited by Walter Sinnott-Armstrong.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Philosophical Therapy

The latest issue of Metaphilosophy features Eugen Fischer's "How to Practise Philosophy as Therapy: Philosophical Therary and Therapeutic Philosophy". The paper discusses Sextus Empiricus and Wittgenstein. To access it, go here.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Oakeshott's Skepticism

Aryeh Botwinick (Temple University) has recently published Michael Oakeshott's Skepticism (Princeton University Press, 2010). For more information, go here.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Faculty Moves

Here are some recent faculty moves involving scholars working on skepticism:

Lorenzo Corti (ancient skepticism), who was a visiting scholar at the University of Cambridge for a couple of years, is now at the École Normale Supérieure in Paris with a Marie Curie fellowship.

Richard Joyce (ethical skepticism) has moved from the University of Sydney, where he held a research fellowship, to the Victoria University of Wellington, where he has taken a professorship.

Stéphane Marchand (ancient skepticism), who used to work at the Université de Paris Ouest Nanterre La Défense, is now at the École Normale Supérieure de Lyon.

Casey Perin (ancient skepticism) has moved from the University of Massachussetts at Amherst to the University of California at Irvine, where he is an associate professor.

Robert Polito (ancient skepticism) has moved from Cambridge, where he was a postdoctoral fellow, to the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, where he is a research associate.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Lecture on Arcesilaus

Tomorrow evening, Casey Perin (UC Irvine) will give the lecture "Making Sense of Arcesilaus" at Berkeley. For more information, go here.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Latin Translation of Sextus

I've just downloaded the sixteenth-century Latin translation of Sextus Empiricus' extant corpus from Gallica. The text was published in 1569 and contains Estienne's translation of the Pyrrhonian Outlines (originally published in 1562) and Hervet's translation of Adversus Mathematicos and Adversus Dogmaticos.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Philosophy Now

The latest issue of Philosophy Now features some papers on ethical skepticism and relativism by Jesse Prinz, David Wong, Richard Joyce, and Richard Garner. Most of the articles are available only to subscribers. However, if you google the titles and click on the relevant results, you'll be able to access all of them.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Moral Relativism

The latest issue of Noûs features James Beebe's "Moral Relativism in Context," a paper which may be of interest to those working on moral skepticism. The article can be found here.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

European Epistemology Network Meeting

The European Epistemology Network will hold a conference on March 17-19 at Lund University (Sweden). Several of the talks will deal with skepticism. You can find the (as yet incomplete) program here and the abstracts here.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Contextualism, Defeaters, and Skepticism

In response to my previous post, I got this information about two papers by Mikael Janvid (Stockholm University):

- "Contextualism and the Structure of Skeptical Arguments," Dialectica 60 (2006): 63-77.

- "Defeaters and Rising Standards of Justification," Acta Analytica 23 (2008): 45-54.

PDF files of the papers can be found here.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Skepticism in Scandinavia

I sometimes post news about events taking place in the Scandinavian countries, and I'm now interested in getting more information about what's going on regarding skeptical studies over there. I know that some readers of this blog live in Denmark, Finland, Norway, or Sweden, so if any of you have information about events, publications, or research projects concerning skepticism, please contact me at this address.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

SEP Entries on Skepticism

Peter Klein's entry on skepticim in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy has now been substantially revised. (Thanks to Stéphane Marchand for calling my attention to this.) The entry is found here. Richard Bett's entries on Pyrrho and Timon have also been revised.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Workshop on Disagreement

I think the following information might be of interest to those working on the skeptical problems posed by the existence of disagreement.

Workshop on Disagreement and Legitimacy: Value Questions and Factual Questions

Division of Philosophy, University of Copenhagen, Denmark

February 10-11, 2011

Reasonable disagreement regarding value questions and religious convictions has been debated in political philosophy for decades, with important contributions by Rawls, Barry and many others. Part of the aims of these discussions has been to identify conditions under which decisions regarding controversial moral and political questions are legitimate. Only very recently, disagreement about factual questions has been the subject to an intense discussion in epistemology. However, despite their obvious similarities and relevance for each other, the two discussions have largely proceeded independently of each other. The aim of the workshop will be to explore connections between the two philosophical problems, seeking to focus on questions such as: do views on reasonable disagreement in political philosophy depend on epistemological assumptions that have recently been uncovered in the epistemological debate on disagreement? Reasonable disagreement in political philosophy usually concerns value questions. But we evidently disagree about politically important factual questions, such as those involved in the global warming debate. Do views about reasonable disagreement carry over to factual questions? Some political or democratic decisions bind everyone in a society, but depends assumptions that are controversial for some of those affected. When are such decisions legitimate?

Speakers: Confirmed speakers include Lars Binderup, Nikolaj Lee Linding Jang Pedersen, Klemens Kappel, and Kristoffer Ahlstrom.

Inquiries: For further questions, please contact Klemens Kappel (

Monday, January 31, 2011

Feminist Philosophy


I could try to justify writing a post on this topic by saying that I'm a little too 'skeptical' about the very idea of feminist philosophy. When about twelve years ago I first heard that certain people were doing research in this area, I was really surprised. Although I believe there are a couple of women working on feminist philosophy here in Argentina, it seems to me that this 'field of research' is in vogue particularly in the US. If you take a look at the website of any philosophy department in the US, you'll probably find someone one of whose areas of specialization is feminist philosophy.

I've been reading some entries on feminism in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy and I must confess that I don't get it. What do they intend to do? To study what women have in fact said about certain philosophic problems or the approach(es) they have in fact adopted? Or are there specific philosophic problems discovered or examined only by women? I may be missing something here, but the first thing that comes to mind is this: when I read a book, article, encyclopedia entry, critical notice, or book review on skepticism, epistemology, metaethics, or Wittgenstein, I don't pay attention to whether the author is a man or a woman. Does it really matter?  I mean, would that make any difference? (Perhaps we should to try to investigate this issue from the perspective of so-called experimental philosophy!) I cannot help having the (perhaps false) impression that all this is bullshit (excuse my French).

Friday, January 28, 2011

New Epistemology Journal

Logos & Episteme is a new quarterly open-access epistemology journal published by a group of scholars from the “Gheorghe Zane” Institute for Economic and Social Research at the Romanian Academy. Its editor-in-chief is Teodor Dima. The journal has an impressive Advisory Board and its first two issues contain very interesting material. The second issue features J. A. Barker and F. Adams' "Epistemic Closure and Skepticism". The journal's website can be found here.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Kantian Idealism

The collective volume Kant's Idealism (Springer), edited by Dennis Schulting and Jacco Verburgt, features Dietmar Heidemann's "Appearance, Thing-in-Itself, and the Problem of the Skeptical Hypothesis". The paper can be found here.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Reviews of "Kant and Skepticism"

A review of Michael Forster's Kant and Skepticism (Princeton University Press, 2008) has been published in the European Journal of Philosophy. Go here to find it.

In the posts I don't usually refer to the things I write, but here you can also find a short review of the same book which I wrote for Philosophy in Review last year.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Pyrrhonian Inquiry

Those working on Pyrrhonian skepticism will be interested to know that the collective volume Definition in Greek Philosophy (OUP, 2010), edited by D. Charles, features Gail Fine's "Sceptical Enquiry." The paper can be accessed online here (provided you have access to Oxford Scholarship Online).

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Aikin on the Regress Problem

Some months ago, I posted information about a forthcoming book by Scott Aikin (Vanderbilt University). The book finally came out last November:

S. Aikin, Epistemology and the Regress Problem. Routledge, 2010. For more information, go here.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Pointless Thinking

Recently, I've been reflecting again on whether systematic and critical thinking (of the sort we find especially in philosophy) is, in the end, utterly pointless, for I cannot help feeling that it leads us nowhere. This feeling depends, of course, on both one's field(s) of research and the way one approaches philosophy or systematic thinking in general. I mean, if someone studies e.g. skepticism, finds some skeptical arguments plausible or persuasive, and does not insulate his own life from his philosophical research, then it seems clear that this research will have some degree of impact on his Weltanschauung. But if you think skepticism is absurd or if your skeptical stance does not affect the way you look at things in your daily life, then no problem arises - of course, one can talk of a "problem" provided the impact is deemed to be negative.

Be that as it may, lately I've been wondering more often than usual whether this whole thing of philosophy isn't completely worthless. My (entirely unoriginal) point is that, in the final analysis, that kind of thinking leads to aporia (or at least that's where it leads me all the bloody time) because reason appears to undermine itself or to be unable to find acceptable answers to the questions it poses. This is why I'm impressed when I encounter people (both laymen and scholars) who have deep convictions and to whom the world makes sense.

Of course, there's also the question of whether one could do something else, since it may be in the "nature" of some people to think (most of the time) in a critical and systematic way, and so they would be slaves to their own psychological makeup, as it were. I've often read that Wittgenstein recommended his "disciples" that they should abandon philosophy, and part of the reason seems to have been (I may be wrong) that the whole thing is pointless. But is there any going back? For once you've learned to think in a given manner or to deal with everyday situations and problems by analyzing them systematically and thoroughly, it doesn't seem possible to rid yourself of this (exhausting) intellectual habit.

Monday, January 3, 2011

The Epistemology of Testimony

A couple of months ago, I wrote a draft of a post about some recent books on the epistemology of testimony. Now that in my two previous posts I referred to the epistemology of trust, I think it's time to mention those books.

The past few years have witnessed a remarkable development in the study of the epistemological problems of testimony, a topic that should be of interest to those seriously working on epistemological skepticism. The best recent books of which I'm aware are the following:

- Sandy Goldberg, Relying on Others. Oxford University Press, 2010.

- Jennifer Lackey, Learning from Words: Testimony as a Source of Knowledge. Oxford University Press, 2008.

- Sandy Goldberg, Anti-Individualism: Mind and Language, Knowledge and Justification. Cambridge University Press, 2007.

- Jennifer Lackey & Ernest Sosa (eds.), The Epistemology of Testimony. Oxford University Press, 2006.
There is a clear and useful discussion of testimony, by Jonathan Adler, in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Click here.
Finally, the epistemology of testimony forms part of so-called "social epistemology", even though those working on testimony do not usually use this phrase to describe what they do. In this respect, there's a very recent collective volume on the topic:
- Adrian Haddock, Allan Millar, and Duncan Pritchard (eds.), Social Epistemology. Oxford University Press, 2010.