The Skeptical Argument Analysis

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The Skeptical Argument: Hands and Brains-in-Vats (BIVs) Premise 1 (P1): If I know that I've hands, I know that I'm not a handless brain-in-a-vat. Premise 2 (P2): I don't know that I'm not a handless brain-in-a-vat. Conclusion (C): So I don’t know that I’ve hands. (P1,P2) This essay considers the argument above. If the argument is sound, we must necessarily accept the conclusion that we do not know that we have hands. We ordinarily take having hands to be something we know. This argument, if sound, thus pushes us into skepticism. Nevertheless, this essay will show how our intuitions and an examination of the argument suggest that the argument is in fact sound, in spite of its skeptical implications. Thereafter, an objection from Dretske will be considered. Dretske argues that P1 is false and that consequently, the argument is unsound. Dretske's argument attempts to disprove P1 by denying closure under known entailment…show more content…
According to the sensitivity theory, sensitivity is a necessary condition for knowledge (Ichikawa and Steup, 2014). Ichikawa and Steup (2014) defined sensitivity to be as such: “S's belief that p is sensitive if and only if, if p were false, S would not believe that p”. In a nearest possible world, if I did not have hands, I would no longer believe that I have hands. Therefore, my belief that I have hands is sensitive. However, my belief that I am not a handless BIV is not sensitive. In a nearest possible world, if I am indeed a handless BIV, I would not come to believe that I am a handless BIV. Then, according to the sensitivity theory, I do not know that I am not a handless BIV. Thus, even if I know that I have hands, and know that having hands entails not being a handless BIV, I would not know that I'm not a handless BIV (Tang, 2016). Evidently, if we subscribe to the sensitivity theory, K and P1 are false, rendering the skeptical argument
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