RADICAL EMPIRICISM AND SKEPTICISM
The conclusion of the preceding chapter was that the moderate empiricist approach to a priori justification does not succeed. Moderate empiricism turns out on examination to be in effect a mere schema for a position, one that is apparently incapable of being satisfactorily fleshed out into a realized view and that owes most of its initial appeal to this schematic character (and, I have suggested, to a pervasive failure to distinguish clearly between the various attempted realizations thereof).
What alternative then is left for the empiricist? The answer is both stark and obvious: if a priori justification cannot be accommodated within the empiricist framework in the way that the moderate empiricist attempts, then it must apparently be repudiated outright if empiricism is to be sustained. Such a course would have had very little appeal to most of the historical advocates of empiricism, with the single, somewhat problematic exception of Mill, but it has been seriously advocated in recent times, mainly by Quine and his followers. While this Quinean view seems to me very difficult to take seriously, the present chapter will be devoted to an attempt to understand and evaluate it.
Though it is not always so regarded, radical empiricism as thus understood is of course a form of skepticism, indeed seemingly one of the deepest and most threatening forms of skepticism.