Shattering a cartesian sceptical dream


  • Stephen Hetherington University of New South Wales



Scepticism about external world knowledge is frequently claimed to emerge from Descartes’s dreaming argument. That argument supposedly challenges one to have some further knowledge — the knowledge that one is not dreaming that p — if one is to have even one given piece of external world knowledge that p. The possession of that further knowledge can seem espe-cially important when the dreaming possibility is genuinely Cartesian (with one’s dreaming that p being incompatible with the truth of one’s accompany-ing belief that p). But this paper shows why that Cartesian use of that possi-bility is not at all challenging. It is because that putative sceptical challenge reduces to a triviality which is incompatible with the sceptic’s having de-scribed some further piece of knowledge which is needed, if one is to have the knowledge that p.

Author Biography

Stephen Hetherington, University of New South Wales