By Barry Stroud
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Extra info for Understanding Human Knowledge
Consequently, he will not be answered if we simply appeal to one alleged matter of fact in order to support our claim to know another. You cannot show the sceptic that you're not hallucinating, and hence that you know there is a tomato on the table, simply by asking your wife if she sees it too—hallucinations of your wife's reassuring words are epistemologically no better off than hallucinations of tomatoes. At every point in the attempted justiﬁcation of a knowledge claim the sceptic will always have another question yet to be answered, another relevant possibility yet to be dismissed, and so he can't be answered directly.
In this and the previous quotation I have inserted numerals and letters into Shoemaker's text. 20 TRANSCENDENTAL ARGUMENTS difﬁculties for the sceptic who denies that we can know anything about the world. He too insists on the truth of that conditional. It is no accident that those concerned with all of our knowledge of the world have concentrated on perception and, to a lesser degree, on memory. Rather than dealing with the conditions of knowledge, then, those conditionals must assert that the truth of what the sceptic doubts or denies is a necessary condition of the meaningfulness of that doubt or denial.
Only if I could know that then could I discover that earlier I had been dreaming about sitting by a ﬁre. So it is obvious that the mere possibility that I will wake up in a few minutes and discover that all this has been a dream will not do the job demanded of it by the philosophical sceptic. By itself it cannot serve his purposes, so according to Clarke he ‘throws it in the trash can’. This does not mean that it is not a genuine possibility after all. It is. But what the sceptic says describes a genuine possibility only if it is taken as involving at some point some ‘plain’, non-‘philosophical’ knowing, so it cannot serve to undermine all of knowledge at one fell swoop.
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