Is the Evil Daemon a sceptical device?

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Abstract

Some contemporary skeptics — as well as many anti-sceptics — assume that the Cartesian Evil Daemon or any of its modern equivalents is the most powerful device at the sceptic’s disposal. So far as I know, no one — except perhaps Gassendi — has ever asked whether the device is a sceptical one at all. In the fifth Objections to the Meditations Gassendi accuses Descartes of unnecessarily introducing novelties into philosophical arguments; according to him, in order to chase away one’s old prejudices it is not necessary to invent a deceiving God or a malicious daemon. By inventing these, one is merely replacing old prejudices with new ones. The old sceptic Gassendi wants to suggest, I think, that the Cartesian Evil Daemon hypothesis is not only superflous but contrary to the sceptic’s purposes. I shall not try to argue that this is so. I shall only point our how poor a reason the Evil Daemon hypothesis is for any doubt and how it thus differs from some standard sceptical reasons for doubt. And I shall try to show that Nozick’s argument from a latter-day Evil Daemon hypothesis attributes to the sceptic concerns which are not his. These are the principal reasons for my doubting that the Evil Daemon hypothesis or its latter-day equivalents are sceptical devices.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationContemporary Yugoslav philosophy
Subtitle of host publicationthe analytic approach
EditorsAleksandar Pavkovic
Place of PublicationDordrecht ; London
PublisherKluwer Academic Publishers
Pages229-240
Number of pages12
ISBN (Electronic)9789400928213
ISBN (Print)9024737761, 9789401077705
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1988

Publication series

NameNijhoff International Philosophy Series
PublisherSpringer
Volume36
ISSN (Print)0924-4530

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