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The Oxford Handbook of Skepticism is a very complete source on modern Skepticism. It is definitely not for an average reader, but for those who have taken a philosophy class in college or read a few philosophy papers it should be fine. With that said, I must say this is the best book on Skepticism out there. I was really impressed by the quality of the articles presented. And the whole text is done with the perspective of a modern philosopher. You won't get much in the vein of Pyrrho, Sextus Empiricus or Descartes, but you will get modern justifications and arguements of their philosophies. And these justifications and arguements are very deep. Any philosopher which claims certainty or truth will need to defend themselves against each arguement in the book, as it does contain the wide array of views modern Skeptics have. Now this book does take a neutral approach and has arguements against Skepticism as well (the reader might note, though, these arguements are like the classical type, they refute specific types of Skepticism and not general forms). So this book offers an array of views on Skepticism, and it is the best coverage on a philosophical point of view yet to date. Now the only thing Skepticism needs is a book written for non-philosophers that has the coverage and quality this does.
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First off, I would like to say that this book really helped me understand my own skepticism and allowed me to find faults in my reasoning that I didn't even know existed! My central criticism would be the section on religious criticism. Though thought provoking at certain points, the author of that section, Paul K. Moser, essentially argues among other things, that people who are skeptical of religion(primarily judo-christian), should test there skepticism by (1)being completely devoted to a loving god(author uses judo-christian examples through out)and (2) maintain that belief until we receive authoritative evidence of gods existence. It just seems to me that the author is making too many presuppositions on the nature of god and dismissive of empirically based knowledge and the burden of proof when concerning gods existence. Though the author never outwardly states his personal religious beliefs out right in his paper, I am still utterly surprised that this paper made the book on skepticism. while I will admit that I am an atheist and my current logical point of vulnerability primarily revolves around religion, the author did bring up interesting points worth considering in my opinion. Don't let my criticism scare you, If you can get past the philosophical jargon, this is definitely a worthwhile read.
To my mind, this book is an authoritative collection of resources on the ancient and modern philosophy of epistemological skepticism. Consisting of three parts (excluding the introduction, which frames the book and its topic)--concerning (I) the varieties of skepticism and skeptical arguments; (II) historically important responses to skepticism; and (III) contemporary issues and responses to skepticism--this book provides a rather thorough and useful introductory exploration of skepticism (the dually beauty and bitch) in philosophy. However, with that said, I rated the book only four stars instead of five because it exhibits one rather glaring flaw, which, as another reviewer critiqued, is the section on "Religious Skepticism" authored by Paul K. Moser. So while I would certainly recommend this book, the remainder of my review will consist of a critique of both Moser and, ultimately, the editor John Greco for their unfortunate (mis)representation of religious skepticism in this work.
Moser's chapter on Religious Skepticism, though very interesting, exemplifies a surprisingly bizarre choice made by the editor, Greco. I say this for the following reasons: Part one of the book is titled, " Varieties of Skepticism and Skeptical Arguments"; furthermore, in the introductory chapter, Greco says that "Each chapter is self-contained and offers a detailed but accessible treatment of its chapter" (3); and the chapter on religious skepticism is in part one of the book. Hence, I think the reasonable thing to infer from these facts is that the section on religious skepticism would consist of an analysis of the various varieties of and arguments for skepticism of religious thought.Read more ›
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