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Institute of Advanced Study

Past Events

IAS Fellow's Public Lecture - Evidence and scepticism

9th February 2016, 17:30 to 18:30, Ustinov Room, Van Mildert College, Professor Jessica Brown, University of St Andrews


Scepticism about knowledge of the external world can seem very natural if one supposes that the only evidence one has about the world consists of one’s experiences. For instance, Descartes famously pointed out that one could have all the same experiences whether one is in a world of physical objects as presented in those experiences, or a world in which an evil demon is causing one to have just the same experiences, even though they radically misrepresent the nature of the world. However, the view of evidence which gives rise to the sceptical puzzle can seem optional. In ordinary life, we allow ourselves to refer to facts about the external world as evidence. For instance, in a court case, part of the evidence might be that the accused was at the No-Good Inn at midnight. And scientists take it that part of their evidence is that such and such experiment was performed, not merely that someone had an experience as of performing such experiment. Professor Jessica Brown considers this debate about the nature of evidence, and whether the more recently popular view that one’s evidence includes claims about the external world can solve philosophical scepticism.

This lecture is free and open to all.

Details about Prof Jessica Brown

Directions to Ustinov Room, Van Mildert College

Map - Van Mildert College is denoted as building No.4

Contact enquiries.ias@durham.ac.uk for more information about this event.