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Coliva, Annalisa, , . Moore and Wittgenstein: Scepticism, Certainty, and Common Sense
2010, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
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Added by: Jie Gao, Contributed by:

Publisher’s Note: Does scepticism threaten our common sense picture of the world? Does it really undermine our deep-rooted certainties? This book offers an answer to these questions through a comparative study of the epistemological work of two key figures in the history of analytic philosophy: G. E. Moore and Ludwig Wittgenstein. While historically accurate and engaging with scholarly work in this area, the book also puts forward novel interpretations of their works and brings out their relevance to present-day debates both in epistemology and philosophy of language.

Comment: This book is a useful and sustained examination of a variety of themes in Wittgenstein’s On Certainty, the very late compilation of remarks inspired by G.E. Moore’s engagement with scepticism and idealism in “A Defence of Common Sense,” “Proof of an External World” and a few other papers. Among the topics considered are the strategies of Moore’s arguments, ordinary and philosophical uses of language, differing interpretations of Moore, externalism, internalism and contextualism, Wittgenstein’s objections to Moore, meaning and use, language games, Cartesian and Humean sceptical arguments, the epistemic and semantic status of so-called “hinge” propositions, epistemic relativism, and a comparison of Wittgenstein’s and Moore’s views with those of subsequent philosophers. It thus constitutes a very good reading or even central text for a course on Moore’s epistemology, Wittgenstein’s epistemology and external world skepticism.

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Elgin, Catherine Z., , . Considered Judgment
1996, Princeton University Press.
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Added by: Giada Fratantonio, Contributed by: Wayne Riggs

Publisher’s Note: Philosophy long sought to set knowledge on a firm foundation, through derivation of indubitable truths by infallible rules. For want of such truths and rules, the enterprise foundered. Nevertheless, foundationalism’s heirs continue their forbears’ quest, seeking security against epistemic misfortune, while their detractors typically espouse unbridled coherentism or facile relativism. Maintaining that neither stance is tenable, Catherine Elgin devises a via media between the absolute and the arbitrary, reconceiving the nature, goals, and methods of epistemology. In Considered Judgment, she argues for a reconception that takes reflective equilibrium as the standard of rational acceptability. A system of thought is in reflective equilibrium when its components are reasonable in light of one another, and the account they comprise is reasonable in light of our antecedent convictions about the subject it concerns.

Many epistemologists now concede that certainty is a chimerical goal. But they continue to accept the traditional conception of epistemology’s problematic. Elgin suggests that in abandoning the quest for certainty we gain opportunities for a broader epistemological purview – one that comprehends the arts and does justice to the sciences. She contends that metaphor, fiction, emotion, and exemplification often advance understanding in science as well as in art. The range of epistemology is broader and more variegated than is usually recognized. Tenable systems of thought are neither absolute nor arbitrary. Although they afford no guarantees, they are good in the way of belief.

Comment: In this book, the author puts forward an original epistemological approach, one which does not focus on seeking certainty, yet it takes reflective equilibrium as the standard for rationality. It could work as specilised reading or secondary reading for a postgraduate course in epistemology. It requires knowledge of the main topics in epistemology (e.g., on the debate between foundationalists vs coherentists).

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