Erasmus University Rotterdam

The Politics of Skepticism

Taught in English

Some content may not be translated

9,204 already enrolled

Course

Gain insight into a topic and learn the fundamentals

Wiep van Bunge
Tim De Mey

Instructors: Wiep van Bunge

4.5

(38 reviews)

Intermediate level
Some related experience required
13 hours to complete
3 weeks at 4 hours a week
Flexible schedule
Learn at your own pace

Details to know

Shareable certificate

Add to your LinkedIn profile

See how employees at top companies are mastering in-demand skills

Placeholder
Placeholder

Earn a career certificate

Add this credential to your LinkedIn profile, resume, or CV

Share it on social media and in your performance review

Placeholder

There are 8 modules in this course

We will discuss the historical and philosophical backgrounds to Plato's rejection of democracy: they will turn out to be intimately connected to his rejection of Skepticism. In addition we will present Karl Popper's highly critical assessment of Plato's 'totalitarian' alternative.

What's included

3 videos3 readings3 discussion prompts

We will sketch some of the skeptical arguments against Christianity developed by Roman philosophers, but we will also see how Skepticism soon turned into an ally of Christian theology. By the end of the seventeenth century, however, Pierre Bayle turned Skepticism into a highly questionable source of support to revealed religion.

What's included

2 videos1 reading1 discussion prompt

We will turn to the relevance of the early modern natural law tradition, serving as as an antidote to Skepticism. Grotius's efforts will be discussed, and we will see how during the eighteenth century David Hume pushed Skepticism to its ultimate and highly disturbing conclusion.

What's included

2 videos2 readings1 peer review1 discussion prompt

We will focus on the intimate relationship between Skepticism and the origins of eighteenth-century conservatism: Edmund Burke's analysis of the French Revolution will be put into perspective. But we will also pay attention to the way in which Skepticism came to serve as a progressive and liberating force, for instance in its critique of biblical authority.

What's included

2 videos1 reading3 discussion prompts

We will discuss the specific and influential way in which Rene Descartes defined the problems of Skepticism, not only the question whether knowledge is possible, but also the question whether the external world and all the objects and properties in it, really exist. But instead of considering Descartes’ own rationalist response, we will then move on to consider the alternative responses of John Locke, Charles Peirce, and John Austin.

What's included

4 videos3 readings1 peer review3 discussion prompts

We will address the question whether, in what sense, and to what extent, Skepticism provides good reasons to do away with prejudices and to adopt religious tolerance. First we will distinguish carefully between belief and truth. Then we will consider the attitude of the positive Skeptic: truth exists, but all our beliefs are and remain prejudices. Finally, we will investigate the role that this epistemic predicament plays in arguments for toleration.

What's included

4 videos1 reading2 peer reviews1 discussion prompt

We will consider Mill’s argument from “the marketplace of ideas” for both freedom of opinion and freedom of expression of opinion. If ideas can compete freely, truth will emerge. Just as a free market is self correcting, speech should not be restricted, because in a free and open encounter, the true and sound ideas will survive, and the false and unsound ideas will vanquish. We will identify the Skeptical assumptions of Mill’s argument and we will evaluate it.

What's included

3 videos2 readings3 discussion prompts

What is the benefit of the doubt? What good can come from the confrontation with alternative views or rival opinions? First we will learn that one of the most effective ways to boost the carefulness of problem solving processes is by pushing on alternatives. Then we will consider the role of organized doubt in meetings, deliberations or political negotiations; to find a solution or to reach an agreement, the participants should deliberately adopt the perspective of the others and make their rival opinions relevant.

What's included

3 videos1 reading1 peer review1 discussion prompt

Instructors

Instructor ratings
4.8 (6 ratings)
Wiep van Bunge
Erasmus University Rotterdam
1 Course9,204 learners
Tim De Mey
Erasmus University Rotterdam
5 Courses22,513 learners

Offered by

Recommended if you're interested in Philosophy

Why people choose Coursera for their career

Felipe M.
Learner since 2018
"To be able to take courses at my own pace and rhythm has been an amazing experience. I can learn whenever it fits my schedule and mood."
Jennifer J.
Learner since 2020
"I directly applied the concepts and skills I learned from my courses to an exciting new project at work."
Larry W.
Learner since 2021
"When I need courses on topics that my university doesn't offer, Coursera is one of the best places to go."
Chaitanya A.
"Learning isn't just about being better at your job: it's so much more than that. Coursera allows me to learn without limits."

Learner reviews

Showing 3 of 38

4.5

38 reviews

  • 5 stars

    68.42%

  • 4 stars

    18.42%

  • 3 stars

    7.89%

  • 2 stars

    2.63%

  • 1 star

    2.63%

JQ
5

Reviewed on Jun 3, 2017

EC
5

Reviewed on Aug 26, 2017

CM
5

Reviewed on Sep 11, 2020

Placeholder

Open new doors with Coursera Plus

Unlimited access to 7,000+ world-class courses, hands-on projects, and job-ready certificate programs - all included in your subscription

Advance your career with an online degree

Earn a degree from world-class universities - 100% online

Join over 3,400 global companies that choose Coursera for Business

Upskill your employees to excel in the digital economy

Frequently asked questions