Doubtful attitude toward knowledge claims / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Skepticism, also spelled scepticism, is a questioning attitude or doubt toward knowledge claims that are seen as mere belief or dogma.[1][2] For example, if a person is skeptical about claims made by their government about an ongoing war then the person doubts that these claims are accurate. In such cases, skeptics normally recommend not disbelief but suspension of belief, i.e. maintaining a neutral attitude that neither affirms nor denies the claim. This attitude is often motivated by the impression that the available evidence is insufficient to support the claim. Formally, skepticism is a topic of interest in philosophy, particularly epistemology. More informally, skepticism as an expression of questioning or doubt can be applied to any topic, such as politics, religion, or pseudoscience. It is often applied within restricted domains, such as morality (moral skepticism), atheism (skepticism about the existence of God), or the supernatural.[3] Some theorists distinguish "good" or moderate skepticism, which seeks strong evidence before accepting a position, from "bad" or radical skepticism, which wants to suspend judgment indefinitely.

Philosophical skepticism is one important form of skepticism. It rejects knowledge claims that seem certain from the perspective of common sense. Radical forms of philosophical skepticism deny that "knowledge or rational belief is possible and urge us to suspend judgment on many or all controversial matters." More moderate forms claim only that nothing can be known with certainty, or that we can know little or nothing about nonempirical matters, such as whether God exists, whether human beings have free will, or whether there is an afterlife. In ancient philosophy, skepticism was understood as a way of life associated with inner peace.

Skepticism has been responsible for many important developments in science and philosophy. It has also inspired several contemporary social movements. Religious skepticism advocates for doubt concerning basic religious principles, such as immortality, providence, and revelation.[4] Scientific skepticism advocates for testing beliefs for reliability, by subjecting them to systematic investigation using the scientific method, to discover empirical evidence for them.