January 16, 2019
Although many philosophers have, throughout history, regarded themselves as answering the skeptic, the question arises whether answering the skeptic is the thing to do. If not, the question becomes how else to respond to her. Wittgenstein-inspired stances are, in general, therapeutic. In this article I focus on the problem of other minds in order to analyze and compare the different shapes such therapeutic stances may have. I begin by showing how crucial resisting the temptation to answer the skeptic was for John McDowell’s early formulations of disjunctivism in the 1980s. In his article “Criteria, Defeasibility, and Knowledge” I identify substantial positions such as the rejection of highest common factor views, the diagnosis of the connection between such highest common factor views and an (untenable) conception of appearances, as well as the proposal of a non-Cartesian, or modest, approach to indistinguishability for a subject. Whatever his success in these other enterprises, McDowell continues to regard both the temptation to answer the skeptic and a substitute therapeutic stance as epistemologically motivated. But if skepticism is more than an intellectual conundrum, as maintained by Stanley Cavell, the source of such temptation has to be considered in a completely different light.