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By Alan Musgrave

Do we recognize whatever for sure? There are those that imagine we will (traditionally categorised the "dogmatists") and those that imagine we can't (traditionally classified the "skeptics"). the speculation of data, or epistemology, is the good debate among the 2. This ebook is an introductory and historically-based survey of the talk. It facets for the main half with the skeptics. It additionally develops out of skepticism a 3rd view, fallibilism or serious rationalism, which contains an uncompromising realism approximately conception, technological know-how, and the character of fact.

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Extra info for Common Sense, Science and Scepticism: A Historical Introduction to the Theory of Knowledge

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These conspiracy theories of error, with their slogan that error and ignorance are a sin, provide the philosophical justification for inquisitions, religious wars and any other practice of persecuting people for their mistakes (or what are thought to be their mistakes). It can be argued, then, that the dispute between dogmatism and scepticism is not an idle and 'merely academic' dispute which makes no practical difference. Bertrand Russell once wrote a popular essay called ' O n the value of scepticism'.

We declare that it is not really bent, and we confidently predict that if we were to run our hand along it again it would feel straight under water also. ) and feel justified in our original conclusion. Three experiences indicate straightness, only one bentness, and we go with the majority and declare the minority a 'wild' experience. ' Sextus would no doubt ask. Indeed, why choose at all? Why not accept all the experiences as veridical? The attempt to answer this last question will uncover beliefs like the following: ' We cannot accept all these experiences as veridical because there is a single stick out there in the world with a single shape (straight or bent).

And (3) that when they all hold that no sufficient grounds for a positive opinion exist, the ordinary man would do well to suspend his judgement. These propositions may seem mild, yet, if accepted, they would absolutely revolutionize human life. The opinions for which people are willing to fight and persecute all belong to one of the three classes which this scepticism condemns. ('935 : n-13) In the rest of his essay, Russell illustrates his last point: some of the examples he gives are a little dated, but still well worth reading.

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