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Why Skepticism is Nonsense

Updated on March 30, 2019
jasonlpetersen profile image

I've been studying philosophy since 2011, and I am currently studying at the International Miracle Institute in Pensacola, FL.

Note: Plato's works attribute this quote to Socrates, but we do not know for sure if Socrates said this himself.
Note: Plato's works attribute this quote to Socrates, but we do not know for sure if Socrates said this himself.

Preliminary Considerations

Skepticism is defined as the view that nothing can be known at all. In this article, 'knowledge' is defined as the possession of the truth. Knowledge is distinct from ignorance because the object of knowledge is a true proposition whereas the object of ignorance is a false proposition. In this article, ignorance is defined as the possession of a falsehood.

Given the definition of knowledge in this article, a proposition need not be demonstrably true in order to be knowledge. Indeed, some people believe truths that they cannot account for it (in this article 'account' means to show how one knows a belief they have to be true) Knowledge that cannot be accounted for is a disjointed truth, and therefore, is still knowledge. Knowledge that can be accounted for is called a systematized truth.

If a belief cannot be accounted for, it is considered an opinion. An opinion may either be true (knowledge) or false (ignorance). In contrast, knowledge is always true. We only should call beliefs that can be accounted for knowledge. The purpose of the knowledge-opinion distinction is so we can tell others what beliefs we definitively know to be true, and what beliefs we know to be true but we could be wrong about.

In this article, the method that will be used to examine the merits of skepticism is the law of contradiction. The law of contradiction states that two propositions that are contrary to one another cannot be true at the same time or in the same sense. If skepticism denies the law of contradiction either explicitly or implicitly, the philosophy of skepticism collapses. This is because if the law of contradiction is false, there is no distinction between propositions. Propositions can neither be true or false because there is no law of thought to distinguish one thing from another.

Everyone has to start somewhere in their thinking. This starting point is called an axiom. An axiom is an indemonstrable starting point in a logical/philosophical system. For Bible believers, the best axiom I have been able to find is, "The Bible is the Word of God."

Why Skepticism Fails

If it can be shown that skepticism is true, it must be false. If a person can ascertain skepticism is true, that would be something that he does know. If, however, a person claims that skepticism is false, that too would be a claim of knowledge that they are alleging is true, and thus, skepticism still must be false.

Some people who are skeptics will attempt to say that skepticism is neither true nor false, but the distinction of falsehood logically requires the acceptance of the law of contradiction because the law of contradiction distinguishes the truth value of one proposition from the truth value of another. Thus, even the claim that skepticism is neither true or false reduces to an assertion that a proposition is true.

Refuting Common Arguments for Skepticism.

One argument for skepticism is that philosophers have failed to come up with an adequate definition of knowledge because a set of conditions must be given within that definition that would tell us what is knowledge and what is not. At the beginning of this article, I defined knowledge as the possession of the truth and I made it clear that the only condition for a belief to be knowledge is for the belief to be true. Given this definition, the skeptic cannot quite maintain his point because under this definition, even beliefs that are true but cannot be accounted for is considered knowledge, and how does a skeptic know that no one can possess a true belief? If skepticism is the belief that nothing can be known, and if he accepts skepticism, the skeptic must admit that he cannot defend his position.

Some skeptics will ask people how they know they are not a brain in a vat. The way a Bible believer knows they are not a brain in a vat is that God created the heavens and the earth (Genesis 1:1). All of creation is confined within God himself, for in him we live, move, and have our being (Acts 17:28). If in God we live, move, and have our being, creation cannot be predicated upon our brain being in a vat.


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