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The systematic use of the five modes for the suspension of judgement
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Pyrrhonian scepticism
Agrippa's trilemma
Ancient philosophy.

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VÁZQUEZ, D. The systematic use of the five modes for the suspension of judgement. Manuscrito: Revista Internacional de Filosofia, Campinas, SP, v. 42, n. 3, p. 47–85, 2019. Disponível em: Acesso em: 21 mar. 2023.


The five modes are a list of tools used by ancient sceptics to guide dogmatic people towards suspending their judgement. Attributed to Agrippa (of uncertain date) and used extensively by Sextus Empiricus (2nd or 3rd century CE), these modes are still widely discussed today by epistemologists and specialists in ancient philosophy. Scholars disagree, however, on how to understand the way the five modes are used together and what the logical form of the sceptical strategy behind their deployment is. This paper offers a reconstruction of the system of the five modes that avoids these problems. In specific, unlike previous reconstructions, (a) it includes a non-trivial version of the mode of relativity, (b) avoids committing the sceptic to a normative principle and (c) follows the textual evidence more closely. Moreover, I argue that the system can be better understood as a list of steps in a process, whose underlying logic can be expressed by a single algorithm.

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