New Books Network

Duncan Pritchard

Epistemic Angst

Radical Skepticism and the Groundlessness of Our Believing

Princeton University Press 2015

New Books in Religion & FaithNew Books in SecularismNew Books Network June 18, 2018 Carrie Lynn Evans

How certain can you be that you’re actually sitting at your desk when it seems that you are? You might see your desk before...

How certain can you be that you’re actually sitting at your desk when it seems that you are? You might see your desk before you and feel it beneath your arms and yet, how can you prove that your senses are to be trusted? How can you know for sure that you’re not merely a brain in a vat, being fed fake perceptual stimuli that only makes it seem like you are where you think you are, doing what you think you’re doing? A philosopher of epistemology who subscribes to radical skepticism may tell you that I can’t know for sure, but this hypothesis raises its own questions …

Duncan Pritchard’s recent book with Princeton University Press, called Epistemic Angst: Radical Skepticism and the Groundlessness of Our Believing, offers a completely new solution to this ancient philosophical problem that includes a new reading of Ludwig Wittgenstein’s account of the structure of rational evaluation. Pritchard also revisits the epistemological disjunctivist proposal that he developed in previous work and shows how it can effectively handle the other aspect of the problem. Finally, he argues that these two anti-skeptical positions, while superficially in tension with each other, are not only compatible but also mutually supporting. The result is a comprehensive and distinctive resolution to the problem of radical skepticism, one that challenges many assumptions in contemporary epistemology.

Dr. Pritchard is a professor of philosophy at the University of Edinburgh, where he is the director of Eidyn: The Edinburgh Centre for Epistemology, Mind and Normativity. In 2007 he was awarded the Philip Leverhulme Prize and in 2011 he was elected to a Fellowship of the Royal Society of Edinburgh.


Carrie Lynn Evans is a PhD student at Université Laval in Quebec City.