Skepticism is the doubtful attitude towards the reliability on the four normal sources of knowledge: perception, memory, introspection and reasoning). Skepticisms doubts the reliability of perception not based on sense perception rather by the possibility that the mind can analyze the information improperly making us perceive the world incorrectly. Contrary to what people believe that perception reflects objective reality, perception is unreliable to due to it being often but not consistent making it hard to be cognizant of how one establishes a fact. In addition, the reliability of perception lies in numerous external influences on one’s ability to solely establish facts (Karl 180). For example, someone’s perception can be compromised by a friend or an enemy of the supposed individual or something.
Human memory is undeniably unreliable due to its working in unison with the human sensory system. For instance an experiment linking sounds, smells and memory found out that they all contribute to emotionally charged memories. It also makes it unreliable, due to its working as a centre for sensory processing and in storing part of emotional memories that can equally evoke unreliable memories due to the attachment emotions that are supposed to be detached from memory. A case in point is when eye witnesses testify perhaps on an accident, they often tend to exaggerate due to their emotions attachment to the incident. Brain impairment can equally affect the reliability of memories (Wixted, Mickes, and Fisher 225-226).
Introspection is a reflection of one’s own thoughts and feelings and the essence of reflection is to generate a truthful and dependable verdict about the grossest outlines of the prevailing conscious experience. According to Cartesian skepticism, introspection is unreliable due to it its vulnerability to ignorance and inaccuracy. Introspection is unreliable in two ways in that examination of basic features of the prevailing experience may yield error and at times perplexity or even indecisiveness (Rik 2461). Some introspection may be inclined to guesswork than others, however, regardless of the results being erroneous or indecisiveness, the fact is that introspection will have failed owing to the assumption that introspection should lead to dependable verdict on conscious experience. The cognitive biases in introspection makes it unreliable since most individuals perceive themselves positively which is a positive bias. The inclination of people interpreting occurrences based on their preceding beliefs presents errors in introspection. The human inability to perceive and correct biases is impossible since substantial biases function subconsciously and thus difficult to identify and correct during the process of introspection (Rik 2463)
Reasoning is similarly unreliable because both rationalities of deductive and inductive reasoning are prone biases such as emotional influences, language and personal experiences. Deductive reasoning however, is more reliable than inductive reasoning because of its reliance on previous premise to reach a conclusion. Despite that, deductive reasoning reliance on assumptions to arrive at conclusion makes it unreliable (Donovan, Caitrin, Cordelia Fine, and Kennett 939. Therefore, the conclusion will be based on a specific past experience and not assumptions. Inductive reasoning is more unreliable because, no occurrence is meant to reoccur and cause the exact effect for that matter. This then makes this kind of reasoning predictive rather being factual. Also, emotions influences logical thinking and thus affect the ultimate knowledge acquisition. Language too influence reasoning because it is prone to different interpretation and misinterpretation brings about false conclusions. For instance, a world ‘band’ can be misinterpreted by people who can perceive it as a musical group of people or an elastic material. The premises of the situation make logical thinking a problem and increase the likelihood of false conclusions of reasoning (Donovan et al. 942).
It is true that is a source is unreliable, it can trick us into believing falsehood, and therefore, it is correct that sometimes we are mistaken when we rely on some of the sources that are mistaken. It is prudent to acknowledge that we might never be correct. Skepticism contention of the unreliability of sources of knowledge is justifiable based on the preceding discussions.
Donovan, Caitrin, Cordelia Fine, and Jeanette Kennett. “Reliable and unreliable judgments about reasons.” The Oxford handbook of reasons and normatively. Oxford University Press, 2018. 939-963.
Hostetler, Karl D. “Beyond reflection: Perception, virtue, and teacher knowledge.” Educational Philosophy and Theory 48.2 (2016): 179-190.
Peels, Rik. “The empirical case against introspection.” Philosophical Studies 173.9 (2016): 2461- 2485.
Wixted, John T., Laura Mickes, and Ronald P. Fisher. “Rethinking the reliability of eyewitness memory.” Perspectives on Psychological Science 13.3 (2018): 324-335.