Wittgenstein on scepticism

Duncan Pritchard*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

41 Citations (Scopus)


The problem of scepticism informs all of Ludwig Wittgenstein's writing, from the remarks on solipsism in Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus to his final notebooks dealing with G. E. Moore's famous commonsense response to scepticism, published as On Certainty. Wittgenstein offers a picture of the structure of reasons that is the very picture that we ordinarily employ, at least when we are not in the grip of the alternative philosophical picture which the sceptic employs. Wittgenstein refers to hinges as propositions throughout On Certainty. The proponent of the non-propositional view has a fairly stiff exegetical task on her hands. A less radical form of non-epistemicism which avoids this difficulty holds that while hinges are indeed propositions, they are not fact-stating propositions but rather express norms. According to contextualism, the hinges are known just so long as one does not enter a context where such hinges are brought into question. It would seem that Wittgenstein's approach to scepticism has important ramifications for contemporary epistemology even if it is set within an externalist framework.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Oxford handbook of Wittgenstein
EditorsOskari Kuusela, Marie McGinn
Place of PublicationOxford
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages27
ISBN (Electronic)9780191735295
ISBN (Print)9780199287505
Publication statusPublished - 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Contextualism
  • Epistemology
  • G. E. Moore
  • Hinges
  • Ludwig Wittgenstein
  • Non-epistemicism
  • On certainty
  • Propositions
  • Scepticism


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