Epistemic Angst

Epistemic Angst : Radical Skepticism and the Groundlessness of Our Believing

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Epistemic Angst offers a completely new solution to the ancient philosophical problem of radical skepticism--the challenge of explaining how it is possible to have knowledge of a world external to us. Duncan Pritchard argues that the key to resolving this puzzle is to realize that it is composed of two logically distinct problems, each requiring its own solution. He then puts forward solutions to both problems. To that end, he offers a new reading of Wittgenstein's account of the structure of rational evaluation and demonstrates how this provides an elegant solution to one aspect of the skeptical problem. Pritchard also revisits the epistemological disjunctivist proposal that he developed in previous work and shows how it can effectively handle the other aspect of the problem. Finally, he argues that these two antiskeptical positions, while superficially in tension with each other, are not only compatible but also mutually supporting. The result is a comprehensive and distinctive resolution to the problem of radical skepticism, one that challenges many assumptions in contemporary epistemology.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 264 pages
  • 152 x 235 x 25.4mm | 567g
  • New Jersey, United States
  • English
  • 0691167230
  • 9780691167237
  • 1,397,744

Back cover copy

"This is an outstanding book on issues of philosophical skepticism central to epistemology throughout its history. Writing lucidly and engagingly, Duncan Pritchard tackles these issues in the context of recent philosophy, going back to Wittgenstein's On Certainty. Pritchard also lays out and defends an original proposal in dialectic with well-known rivals, such as relativist contextualism, attributor contextualism, contrastivism, dogmatism, and others."--Ernest Sosa, Rutgers University

"Epistemic Angst will be a must-read for anyone interested in epistemology or Wittgenstein. I don't think there is anything about Wittgenstein's contribution to current epistemological debates that comes anywhere near this book. It provides a helpful survey of these debates and a very clear introduction to Wittgenstein's epistemology. Pritchard is an excellent writer with a gift for summarizing complicated debates, and his book will have a tremendous impact on the field."--Clayton Littlejohn, King's College London
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Table of contents

Acknowledgments xiii Introduction 1 Part 1. Epistemic Angst 9 Chapter 1. Radical Skepticism and Closure 11 1. The Contemporary Radical Skeptical Paradox 11 2. Undercutting versus Overriding Anti-skeptical Strategies 16 3. An Overriding Anti-skeptical Strategy (I): Nonclosure 17 4. An Overriding Anti-skeptical Strategy (II): Epistemic Externalism 19 5. Radical Skepticism about Rationally Grounded Knowledge 22 6. An Overriding Anti-skeptical Strategy (III): Abductivism 25 7. Concluding Remarks 28 Chapter 2. Radical Skepticism and Underdetermination 29 0. Introductory Remarks 29 1. Radical Skepticism and the Underdetermination Principle 29 2. An Overriding Anti-skeptical Strategy: Epistemic Externalism 32 3. Attributer Contextualism as an Overriding Anti-skeptical Strategy 36 4. Attributer Contextualism as an Undercutting Anti-skeptical Strategy 40 5. Comparing the Two Forms of Radical Skepticism 46 6. The Source of Underdetermination-Based Radical Skepticism 49 7. Two Sources of Radical Skepticism 54 8. Anti-skeptical Desiderata 58 Part 2. Wittgenstein and the Groundlessness of Our Believing 61 Chapter 3. Wittgenstein on the Structure of Rational Evaluation 63 0. Introductory Remarks 63 1. Wittgenstein on the Structure of Rational Evaluation 63 2. Wittgenstein contra the Skeptical "Paradox" 66 3. A Core Problem for the Wittgensteinian Account of the Structure of Rational Evaluation 70 4. Epistemic Ways of Developing the Wittgensteinian Account of the Structure of Rational Evaluation (I): The Externalist Reading 73 5. Epistemic Ways of Developing the Wittgensteinian Account of the Structure of Rational Evaluation (II): The Entitlement Reading 77 6. A Nonepistemic Way of Developing the Wittgensteinian Account of the Structure of Rational Evaluation: The Nonpropositional Reading 84 7. Concluding Remarks 87 Chapter 4. Hinge Commitments 89 0. Introductory Remarks 89 1. The Nonbelief Reading 90 2. Hinge Commitments 94 3. Anti-skeptical Contrasts (I): Inferential Contextualism 103 4. Anti-skeptical Contrasts (II): Strawsonian Naturalism 110 5. Anti-skeptical Contrasts (III): Davidsonian Content Externalism 112 6. Wittgensteinian Anti-skepticism and Underdetermination-Based Radical Skepticism 113 7. Epistemic Priority and Underdetermination-Based Radical Skepticism 116 8. Concluding Remarks 118 Part 3. Epistemological Disjunctivism 121 Chapter 5. Epistemological Disjunctivism and the Factivity of Reasons 123 0. Introductory Remarks 123 1. Epistemological Disjunctivism in Outline 123 2. Three Core Problems for Epistemological Disjunctivism 127 3. Epistemological Disjunctivism qua Anti-skeptical Strategy 132 4. Radical Skepticism and Favoring/Discriminating Epistemic Support 136 5. Concluding Remarks 142 Chapter 6. Epistemological Disjunctivism and Closure-Based Radical Skepticism 144 0. Introductory Remarks 144 1. Anti-skeptical Contrasts (I): Rational Support Contextualism 144 2. Anti-skeptical Contrasts (II): Contrastivism 153 3. Anti-skeptical Contrasts (III): Dogmatism 157 4. A Weakness in Epistemological Disjunctivism 160 5. Epistemological Disjunctivism and Its Competitors 163 6. Concluding Remarks 166 Part 4. Farewell to Epistemic Angst 167 Chapter 7. Farewell to Epistemic Angst 169 0. Introductory Remarks 169 1. Recap: The Problem of Radical Skepticism 169 2. The Biscopic Proposal: Epistemic Angst Avoided 173 3. Some Anti-skeptical Contrasts 179 4. Concluding Postscript: Epistemic Vertigo 184 Notes 189 Bibliography 217 Index 237
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Review quote

"[An] innovative, clearly written, and wide-ranging book."--Daniel Immerman, Grazer Philosophische Studien
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About Duncan Pritchard

Duncan Pritchard is professor of philosophy at the University of Edinburgh, where he is the director of Eidyn: The Edinburgh Centre for Epistemology, Mind and Normativity. His books include Epistemic Luck and Epistemological Disjunctivism.
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Rating details

9 ratings
3.89 out of 5 stars
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4 44% (4)
3 33% (3)
2 0% (0)
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