What is Skepticism?

David Hume
David Hume

What is Skepticism?

Skepticism refers to a questioning attitude, or a a certain amount of doubt about something that is otherwise taken for granted.

Skepticism only accepts, rejects, or suspends judgement on new information if the new information is well supported by evidence.

In religion, skepticism refers to the doubt about religious principles(such as providence, revelation, and immortality).

In philosophy, skepticism is the idea that judgement should be suspended in investigations.

Definition of Skepticism

Skepticism comes from the Greek word skeptomai, which means to look about or consider. In ordinary usage it refers to:

1) an attitude of doubt or a disposition to incredulity either in general or toward a particular object

2) the doctrine that true knowledge or knowledge in a particular area is uncertain

3) doubt concerning basic religious principles


Scientific skepticism

A scientific skeptic uses systematic investigation to question the validity of certain claims. This process by which reality is investigated is called the scientific method. The scientific method is of such a nature that science itself could be classified as an organized form of skepticism. The scientific skeptic does not necessarily conduct live experiments themselves, but they generally accept claims that are true based on testable hypothesis or critical thinking.

Topics that scientific skeptics question include health claims pertaining to certain foods, procedures, and alternative medicines, the existence of the supernatural, Bigfoot. the Loch Ness Monster, UFO's, crop circles, near death experiences(NDE), creationism, conspiracy theories, and other claims the scientific skeptic sees as improbable on scientific grounds.

Empirical or scientific skeptics do not admit to philosophical skepticism. A philosophical skeptic may deny the very existence of knowledge, whereas a scientific skeptic only seeks proof before accepting knowledge.

Religious Skepticism

Religious skepticism is a skepticism related to religion, but is not the same as atheism. Religious skeptics are not necessarily anti-religious, but they question religious authority and are skeptical towards certain or all religious beliefs and practices. They may question such things as the existence of divine beings and reports of miracles.

Philosophical Skepticism

Pyrrhonism is a position in philosophical skepticism which refrains from making truth claims. A philosophical skeptic does not claim that there is no such thing as truth, which would of course be a truth claim itself. Philosophical skepticism is also applied to other similar philosophies such as academic skepticism, a variant of Platonism which claimed that it was impossible to gain knowledge of truth. Empiricism is closely related to philosophical skepticism but not exactly the same. Empiricists see empiricism as a compromise between philosophical skepticism and nomothetic science. Philosophical skepticism has been called 'radical empiricism' in turn.

Rene Descartes is known for developing a global skepticism as a thought experiment in order to find absolute certainty as a foundation to base his philosophy on. David Hume has also been known as a global skeptic.Descartes wasn't a true skeptic however, as he developed his philosophy of absolute certainty to be able to prove other skeptics wrong who said that there was no certainty.


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Leave Me a Comment About Skepticism 4 comments

michelle-ds-fan profile image

michelle-ds-fan 6 years ago

Nice Hub. The older I get, the more skeptical I become. It's odd because I thought I was set in my ways and beliefs. But now I question things that I normally wouldn't.

Muldania 4 years ago

It is useful to be able to define the different scepticisms. I would describe myself as a religious sceptic after reading this, and believe that I have perhaps been describing myself as an atheist incorrectly. I do question all religion, and the belief in God, and thought that 'atheist' was the only term to describe my views. However, I recognise that it cannot be proven that God does not exist, and have decided to suspend judgement, and instead to use the term religious sceptic.

Lance 4 years ago

Then you are an agnostic muldania.

Paolocruz profile image

Paolocruz 3 years ago from Philippines

I just don't believe in anything that cannot be proven. That is also to say that I only believe in a few things, those things that are significant in my life. The rest, I just don't care about them. It makes no difference I think.

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