Infinite regression of skepticism

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The common objection to the concept of skepticism is that one would have to be "skeptical of skepticism", and "skeptical of being skeptical of skepticism", and possibly into an infinite regression. Since that cannot occur, the series must terminate in God. This form of the argument is a variant of the cosmological argument.

An alternative form states that, since the series would never end, skepticism is thus invalid. With skepticism invalidated, faith is therefore the only path left that could be valid.

"you see if you are skeptical you would have to be skeptical of skepticism, and skeptical of being skeptical of skepticism, and skeptical of being skeptical of being skeptical of ... - into an infinite regression [...] you have to accept something on faith [...] make that god [1]"

Contents

Counter-apologetics

Proof of God?

Some variants claim the chain of "skeptical of skepticism" must terminate with something i.e. God. That is a totally arbitrary conclusion and an argument from ignorance. Secondly, the series does not have to terminate and can be a non-viscious regress. Also, the series might terminate in something other than God.

False dichotomy

Claiming that one view point is proved (faith) if an unrelated view point is disproved (skepticism) is a false dichotomy. There may be other undiscovered ways of determining truth.

Skepticism passes the skepticism test

If skepticism is examined by it's own criteria, it is an acceptable concept. Skepticism is a method of systematically questioning and analysing ideas. Skepticism is based on many related philosophical concepts such as empiricism. It has also been found to be a useful concept in many intellectual disciples. Skepticism is not itself an objection against an idea, rather it was a way of thinking and analysing ideas. A separate and distinct argument against skepticism must be made, which is possibly motivated by skeptical thinking.

Being "skeptical of skepticism" likewise may be examined skeptically and found to be acceptable. An infinite chain of "skeptical of skepticisms" may exist, and we are free to examine any stage by applying skepticism. Skepticism itself is no argument against something in itself but rather motivates other arguments and questions. It is absurd to demand that a skeptic actually has to provide a complete justification for the entire chain of explanations, since it would be impractical for any individual to achieve.

Karl Popper argued that a way to avoid infinite regress for scientific concepts was to use an intermediate approach incorporating some dogmatism, some infinite regress and some perceptual experience. [2]

Consequences of abandoning scepticism

If we abandon skepticism, we would be inundated with many erroneous beliefs and superstitions. There would be no reliable way to distinguish true and false statements. This would be absurd (or possibly an appeal to consequences).

Widely accepted

Almost everyone applies skepticism to some areas of their life; skeptics apply it as a general principle to all knowledge claims. Skepticism is a psychological necessity and cannot be totally abandoned.

References

  1. Johnny Gruesomeface, [1]
  2. Karl Popper, "The Logic of Scientific Discovery", p. 87

See also

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