Philosophical Doubt: A Snippet

(From a forthcoming paper co-authored with Keren Gorodeisky.)

It sometimes seems to the skeptic (or to her opponent) that her philosophical doubt is a particularly high degree of ordinary doubt.  But underlying that seeming is a mistaken understanding of the generality of the conclusion of philosophical doubt as opposed to the specificity of the conclusion of ordinary doubt.  The former does not show that philosophical doubt is on the far end of a spectrum it shares with ordinary doubt.  The sort of talk we often indulge in around skepticism, talk for example of ‘hyperbolic’ doubt, thus contains a strong suggestio falsi and needs to be handled carefully.

Note that attitudes toward philosophical doubt may be degreed.  For example, a person might be very excited about philosophical doubt or might be thrown into deep despair by it.  But neither of these reactions to the doubt is an intensification of it.  Neither makes it a particularly high degree of ordinary doubt.

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