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Title: Five modes of scepticism : an analysis of the Agrippan modes in Sextus Empiricus' Outlines of Pyrrhonism
Author: Sienkiewicz, Stefan Fareed Abbas
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2013
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This thesis has as its focus five argumentative modes that lie at the heart of Sextus Empiricus’ Outlines of Pyrrhonism. They are the modes of disagreement, hypothesis, infinite regression, reciprocity and relativity. They are analysed, individually, in the first five chapters of the thesis (one mode per chapter) and, collectively, in the sixth. The first four chapters deal, respectively, with the modes of disagreement, hypothesis, infinite regression and reciprocity. They distinguish between two versions of these modes: “dogmatic versions”, on the basis of which a dogmatic philosopher, who holds some theoretical beliefs, might reach a sceptical conclusion; and “sceptical versions”, on the basis of which a sceptical philosopher, who lacks all theoretical beliefs, might do so. It is argued that scholars such as Jonathan Barnes have offered reconstructions of these modes which are dogmatic in the sense just described, and alternative sceptical versions of the modes are presented. A stand-alone fifth chapter offers an analysis of a stand-alone mode - the mode of relativity. It argues that there are in fact three different modes of relativity at play in the Outlines, that only one of them is non-trivial, and that the non-trivial version is incompatible with the mode of disagreement. The sixth and final chapter offers an analysis of how the modes (excluding relativity) are meant to work in combination with one another. Four different combinations are presented and it is argued that all of them are underscored by a variety of theoretical assumptions, which a sceptic, who lacks all theoretical beliefs, cannot make. The ultimate conclusion of the thesis is that, though the sceptic can deploy the various modes individually (by means of exercising his particular sceptical ability), he is not able to systematise them into a net by means of which he might trap his dogmatic opponent. Unless specified otherwise, translations are based on Annas, J., and Barnes, J., Sextus Empiricus: Outlines of Scepticism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000).
Supervisor: Charles, David Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Ancient philosophy ; Sextus Empiricus ; epistemology