Skepticism: An overview

Date of Award




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)



First Committee Member

Leonard S. Carrier - Committee Chair


This is an historical account of epistemological skepticism. The first two chapters are expository in nature. To some degree, so is the third chapter. Chapter IV deals with Peter Unger's revival of skepticism. I argue against his views and conclude that on the one hand, his classical argument is no improvement over Descartes's skeptical argument of the First Meditation, and that his second and third arguments are flawed. Chapter V examines two different current strategies against the skeptic: a revival of Humean naturalism as presented by J. P. Strawson, and Donald Davidson's theory of meaning and interpretation that relies on a Kantian strategy in its answer to the skeptic. Whereas Strawson's position is found inadequate to deal with the skeptical challenge, Davidson's approach, although not entirely satisfactory, is found to be more promising than Humean naturalism. The final chapter deals with the views of Ludwig Wittgenstein. These views represent a blend of naturalism and Kantian transcendental argumentation. Here it is argued that significant affinities exist between Davidson's and Wittgenstein's views. Although recognizing that the problem of skepticism, as it has been traditionally presented, cannot be solved to the satisfaction of the skeptic, it is argued that Wittgenstein's approach offers the more plausible approach in dealing with the skeptical problem as providing the best way of understanding our concepts.



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