A Critique of the Challenge of Skepticism to Empirical Knowledge

Omotosho, Ibrahim Fatai (2015-05-11)


The study examined the various responses in epistemology to the skeptical challenge to the possibility of knowledge with a view to articulating a viable theory of knowledge. The study employed the methods of historical exposition, textual interpretation, philosophical argumentation, and critical conceptual analysis of epistemology from the Socratic era through the period of classical empiricism in Western Europe and America. The results showed that the skeptical challenge to empirical knowledge was a demand for ty which could only be met by a priori knowledge and deductive reasoning. It was also that, since scepticism about empirical knowledge was based on the methodological le of non-contradiction, a posterior or empirical knowledge claims could not logically the skeptic's ideal of knowledge. The study posited that the right approach in epistemology would be to recognize that both a priori and a posteriori (empirical) knowledge were legitimate forms of knowledge, just as deduction and induction were legitimate, though different, forms of reasoning. Therefore, for any definition of knowledge to be universally satisfactory it must harmonize the two kinds of knowledge and the two kinds of reasoning. Hilary Kornblith's version of reliablism was considered a viable definition of knowledge in line with the findings of the study. The study concluded that the skeptic's demand that empirical knowledge should satisfy requirements of a pirori knowledge was naturally and logically impossible. Based on Kornblith’s version of reliabilism, both a priori and empirical claims that were produced by methodologically reliable means were acceptable kinds of knowledge.