The Sceptic’s Modes of Argumentation

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Abstract

Sextus Empiricus’ Ten Modes of Scepticism seem to be devices to generate equal and opposing arguments to dogmatic arguments. An account is proposed of Sextus’ Five Modes (the Modes of Agrippa) according to which they should be viewed in the same way. This contrasts with the usual interpretation of them, where they are thought of as codifying the sceptic’s rejection of certain types of argumentation on the basis of the sceptic’s taking a view about the epistemic inadequacy of those types of argumentation. On the proposed interpretation, when the sceptic deploys the Five Modes, he finds himself unmoved by a certain dogmatic argument because he finds himself in a state of suspension of judgement in the face of equal and opposing arguments, and not because he rejects on epistemic grounds the way in which the dogmatist argued. An analogy is suggested between the the Aristotelian topoi and the sceptical modes as being devices for generating arguments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationDialectic After Plato and Aristotle
PublisherCambridge University Press
Pages283-319
Number of pages37
ISBN (Electronic)9781108681810
ISBN (Print)9781108471909
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Arts and Humanities

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