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To reply or not to reply, that is the question: descriptive metaphysics and the sceptical challenge


How should one respond to scepticism? Should one seek to refute it? Or should scepticism be ignored? This chapter explores four responses to scepticism: that of ambitious, truth-directed transcendental arguments; that of modest transcendental arguments; that of the naturalist; and that of the descriptive metaphysician. It argues that descriptive metaphysics occupies an intermediate logical space between truth-directed transcendental arguments aimed at refuting the sceptic and the quietist stance of the Humean naturalist who declines to take up the sceptical challenge, but that it occupies this intermediate logical space in a very distinctive way, one that differs from that in which this middle ground has recently been claimed by advocates of modest transcendental strategies. While descriptive metaphysics is not ontologically ambitious, it does not pursue a strategy of epistemic humility. It seeks to show, rather, that the sceptic is not a genuine partner in conversation.

Online Publication Date Dec 14, 2023
Publication Date Dec 14, 2023
Publicly Available Date Jun 27, 2023
Publisher Oxford University Press (OUP)
Pages 192-211
Book Title P.F. Strawson and His Legacy. In Audun Bengtson, Benjamin De Mesel and Sybren Heyndels (eds.)
Chapter Number 9
ISBN 9780192858474
Publisher URL
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