What is ethical skepticism?

What is ethical skepticism?

Ethical skepticism refers to the skeptic approach to moral issues: right and wrong. 

Sometimes confused with cynicism, a general suspicion of people and their motives, ethical scepticism is about questioning if something is right just because others say it is. If not, what will make it so? Scepticism has played a crucial role in refining our basic understandings of ourselves and the world we live in.


In philosophy, skepticism is more complex than simply being wary of taking someone else’s word for something. In the classical (ancient Greek) tradition of philosophy, skepticism is an approach to knowledge and truth that begins from the premise that we can’t know anything for certain, so the right way to approach the pursuit of knowledge or truth is to suspend judgement for as long as possible.

This classical approach to philosophy was adopted by the influential Enlightenment thinker Descartes, who foregrounded ”doubt” in his system of knowledge. He gave us the maxim “I think, therefore I am,” however, which was his baseline example for coming up with a logical or rational method for philosophy.

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