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Probability, Certainty And Facts In Francis Bacon's Natural Histories. A Double Attitude Towards Skepticism

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Chapter Summary

This chapter suggests that the relationship between Francis Bacon and skepticism was in some way contradictory and allows to find in his different works both anti-skeptical and pro-skeptical tendencies. It aims to shed new light on the evaluation of Bacon's position on skepticism by dwelling on his methodological theory and his practice of natural history. The analysis of this aspect of the Baconian program will lead to a more comprehensible account of its relationship to skepticism. The view that Bacon's project rules out hypothesis from its methodology once enjoyed a broad acceptance. As a practitioner of natural history Bacon becomes truly aware of the difficulties of establishing the facts of nature. He realizes that they might be established with varying levels of certainty. The actual probability associated with certain and doubtful facts compiled in his natural histories shows that Bacon was not "unsympathetic to notions of probability"..

Keywords: certainty; Francis Bacon; probability; skepticism



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