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11 - Scepticism and Certainty: Moore and Wittgenstein on Common Sense and Philosophy

from Part II

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  06 November 2020

Rik Peels
Affiliation:
Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam
René van Woudenberg
Affiliation:
Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam
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Summary

This chapter explores two influential conceptions of the role of common sense in philosophical theorizing from early analytical philosophy, due to G. E. Moore and Ludwig Wittgenstein. Both approaches set out an important function for our everyday certainties to play in the epistemological enterprise, albeit in very different ways. For Moore, our common-sense certainties serve as a kind of reasonable stopping point in philosophical disputes. In particular, where common sense confronts philosophical theory, we can reasonably side with common sense. While Moore claims that our common-sense certainties have an epistemic weight simply in virtue of being common-sense certainties, for Wittgenstein the certainty that attaches to these commitments entails that they have no rational status at all. Nonetheless, this doesn’t prevent them from having a crucial import to epistemological questions. By setting these two philosophical approaches side by side, we gain an important perspective on how common sense might be appealed to in philosophical theorizing.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2020

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