Many of the most celebrated, intriguing, and powerful skeptical arguments proceed by means of skeptical hypotheses. Brutally pared to their barest essentials, they are roughly of the following form, where 'O' is a proposition about the external world one would ordinarily think one knows (e.g., I have hands 1) and 'H' is a suitably chosen skeptical hypothesis (e.g., I am a bodiless brain in a vat who has been electrochemically stimulated to have precisely those sensory experiences I've had, henceforth a 'BIV' 2):
1. I don't know that not-H.
2. If I don't know that not-H, then I don't know that O.
C. I don't know that O. 4
Setting aside the distracting side issues that immediately threaten from all directions, and keeping AI in this stark, uncomplicated form, I will, in what follows, present and defend, at least in broad outline, the correct solution to the puzzle AI confronts us with. And AI does present us with a puzzle, because, for reasons we'll investigate in later sections, each of its premises is initially plausible, when H is well chosen. For however improbable or even bizarre it may seem to suppose that I am a BIV, it also seems that I don't know that I'm____________________
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Publication information: Book title: Skepticism:A Contemporary Reader. Contributors: Keith DeRose - Editor, Ted A. Warfield - Editor. Publisher: Oxford University Press. Place of publication: New York. Publication year: 1999. Page number: 183.
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