How we know things

Epistemology for modern Skeptics: III, Probability as the criterion of (likely) truth

Probabilism is the third pillar that allows us to articulate a modern version of ancient Skepticism, and live by it

Figs in Winter
8 min readApr 7, 2022

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alleged portrait of Thomas Bayes, Wikipedia

Being a skeptic means to maintain an attitude of open inquiry about the truth. As such, Skepticism is not really a philosophy of life, but rather a philosophical stance toward everything, including philosophies of life. Which suits me just fine, since I’m persuaded that Simone de Beauvoir was right when she wrote:

“It would be useful to explain how certain individuals are capable of getting results from that conscious venture into lunacy known as a ‘philosophical system,’ from which they derive the obsessional attitude which endows their tentative patterns with universal insight and applicability.” (The Prime of Life 178)

Ouch. Be that as it may, a modern skeptical approach is based on the refinement of three ideas that were already present in ancient Skeptics like the Greek Carneades and the Roman Cicero, two of which we have discussed in previous installments of this series: coherentism, the claim that a given belief is justified if it is part of a broader set, or system, of beliefs; fallibilism, the…

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Figs in Winter

by Massimo Pigliucci. New Stoicism and Beyond. Entirely AI free.