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Philosophical Problems in the Contemporary World

Edited By Dilek Arlı Çil and Nihal Petek Boyaci

The social and technological developments, social movements, scientific discoveries, economic growth or diseconomies give rise to many problems for human beings. Many disciplines such as economics, political science, architecture, sociology and psychology discuss these problems and offer solutions from different perspectives. Philosophy has its own way of dealing with these problems. As opposed to the common belief, philosophy does not only deal with ideals independently of what is going on in real life. The problems of the contemporary philosophy are also the problems of the contemporary world. For this reason, this book aims to present and discuss certain philosophical problems in the contemporary world and to suggest solutions to them.

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The Problem of the Criterion: Can Skepticism be Overcome?

Extract

F. Cansu TAPAN1

The Problem of the Criterion:

Can Skepticism be Overcome?

Introduction

Imagine you are a brain-in-a-vat. The source of all the impressions you have is a computer. When it stimulates your brain through certain electronic impulses, it seems to you that there is an external reality and you have a body. There are others who have bodies as well. You say that my stomach aches but indeed you don’t even have a stomach. It is very vivid and evident to you that you are feeling pain. What you feel is real. However, the situation you are in is not as what it seems. Here comes the question: Can you state that you know you are not a brain-in-a- vat or you are? From what appears to you, how do you know that you know the external world?

Knowledge by perception constitutes a problematic issue in epistemology. While naïve realists claim that we directly know the external world, other realist camps which are more cautious claim that what we directly know is the content of our perception. Therefore, through the medium of that content, we indirectly know the external world. Leaving aside the different claims within various realist approaches and focusing on their basic assumption, there is an external world which exists out there and independently of us. Then the problem is that how one is to know whether the mental content she has through perception, completely fits...

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