Skepticism, Externalism and Inference to the Best Explanation

Jochen Briesen

Abstract


This paper focuses on a combination of the antiskeptical
strategies offered by semantic externalism and the inference to the best
explanation. I argue that the most difficult problems of the two strategies
can be solved, if the strategies are combined: The strategy offered by
semantic externalism is successful against standard skeptical brain-in-a-vat
arguments. But the strategy is ineffective, if the skeptical argument is
referring to the recent-envatment scenario. However, by focusing on the
scenario of recent envatment the most difficult problems of the
antiskeptical strategy posed by the inference to the best explanation can be
solved. The most difficult problems with this strategy are: (1) Why is an
explanation of our experience offered by the skeptical hypothesis more
complex than our standard explanation? (2) Why is the more complex
explanation less likely to be true? By focussing on the recent envatment
hypothesis both questions can be answered satisfactorily. Therefore, the
combination of semantic externalism and the inference to the best
explanation yields to a powerful antiskeptical argument.

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