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Unger’s Views on Skepticism and Certainty

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  1. Introduction
  2. Unger's attempts to argue in favor of skepticism
  3. Unger's argument: Treating certainty as a sort of dogmatic attitude
  4. Conclusion

Peter Unger applies a unique approach to skepticism. In his essay, ?An Argument for Skepticism?, he endorses the concept by insisting that if one is not a skeptic, he/she must be (more or less) dogmatic. The way in which he supports this is by attempting to prove that nobody ever knows anything--because if one claims that he/she knows something, he/she is indirectly supposing that it is ?perfectly all right? (Unger 43) to be certain of it. However, I will argue that Unger's definition of certainty?his idea that certainty is more or less a dogmatic attitude?is not accurate; so that one may be certain without being dogmatic.

[...] Unger's Views on Skepticism and Certainty Peter Unger applies a unique approach to skepticism. In his essay, Argument for Skepticism?, he endorses the concept by insisting that if one is not a skeptic, he/she must be (more or less) dogmatic. The way in which he supports this is by attempting to prove that nobody ever knows anything-- because if one claims that he/she knows something, he/she is indirectly supposing that it is ?perfectly all right? (Unger 43) to be certain of it. [...]


[...] I agree with Unger on this: that if you were to regard certainty as a sort of dogmatic attitude, it would be not all right to be certain of anything. However, I believe that one can be certain of something without being dogmatic. Take, for example, if we consider the opposite of certainty?uncertainty. If I were to say I was uncertain that I saw a duck in the pond, I am implying that I am unsure whether or not I saw a duck in the pond; perhaps even that in my mind there is a fifty-fifty or less chance that I remember seeing it. [...]

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