Academic Scepticism and the Early Royal Society

  • Benjamin D. HillEmail author
Part of the International Archives of the History of Ideas Archives internationales d'histoire des idées book series (ARCH, volume 221)


The form of Academic scepticism most amenable to the Baconians and experimentalists of the early Royal Society was Carneades’ doctrine of probablism. Carneades’ doctrine of probablism was understood in seventeenth century Britain as a falabilist account of practical knowledge. Carneades’ hierarchical strictures governing action and motivation fit the early Fellows’ conceptions of experience and hypotheses. It is suggested that they could have provided the early Fellows with resolutions to some conceptual problems that bedevil attempts to develop a workable eliminative induction. It is suggested that Carneades’ probablism could have provided the early Fellows with a proto-version of Confirmation Theory, which helps to ground their understanding of how experience and experiment ground hypotheses, experimental practices, and technological advancements.


Confirmation theory Epistemic authority Methodology Royal Society 


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© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Western OntarioLondonCanada

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