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In this book, Henrik Lagerlund offers the first complete history of what is perhaps the most famous of all philosophical problems: skepticism. As the first of its kind, the book traces the influence of philosophical skepticism from its roots in the Hellenistic schools of Pyrrhonism and the Middle Academy up to its impact inside and outside of philosophy today.

Along the way, the book covers skepticism during the Latin, Arabic, and Greek Middle Ages and during the Renaissance before moving on to cover Descartes’ methodological skepticism and Pierre Bayle’s super-skepticism in the seventeenth century. In the eighteenth century, it deals with Humean skepticism and the anti-skepticism of Reid, Shepherd, and Kant, taking care to also include reflections on the connections between idealism and skepticism (including skepticism in German idealism after Kant). The book covers similar themes in a chapter on G.E. Moore and Ludwig Wittgenstein, and then ends its historical overview with a chapter on skepticism in contemporary philosophy. In the final chapter, Lagerlund captures some of skepticism’s impact outside of philosophy, highlighting its relation to issues like the replication crisis in science and knowledge resistance.

Table of Contents


  1. Pyrrhonism and Sextus Empiricus
  2. Academic Skepticism
  3. Augustine and Early Latin Medieval Skepticism
  4. Al-Ghazali and Skepticism in Medieval Arabic and Greek Philosophy
  5. God as a Deceiver: External World Skepticism in Later Latin Medieval Times
  6. Skepticism in the Sixteenth Century: Miguel Montaigne, Pierre Charron, and Francesco Sanches
  7. Descartes’s Methodological Skepticism, Bayle’s Super-Skepticism, and Berkeley’s Anti-Skepticism
  8. Hume’s Skepticism and Hume on Skepticism
  9. The Anti-Skepticism of Reid and Kant and Skepticism in German Idealism
  10. G. E. Moore and Ludwig Wittgenstein on Skepticism
  11. Skepticism in Contemporary Philosophy
  12. Non-Philosophical Skepticism