Martin Hollis (philosopher)
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Quotes about Hollis
- Some philosophers – I am again thinking particularly of Martin Hollis – have objected that it will only be rational to hold such a belief if it was in turn rational to hold the core beliefs from which this specific item is said to follow. But this image of a rational bedrock strikes me as confused. What does it mean for a purportedly core belief to be rationally held? On the one hand, it can hardly mean that we are capable of giving good reasons for holding it. For in that case it would be a derivative rather than a core belief. But on the other hand, I cannot see – as I have already conceded – what else it can mean to describe a belief as being held in a rational way. I cannot see, in short, that Hollis’s proposal can be deployed in such a way as to set limits to the kind of holism I am trying to expound. Even in the most primitive perceptual cases, even in the face of the clearest observational evidence, it will always be reckless to assert that there are any beliefs we are certain to form, any judgements we are bound to make, simply as a consequence of inspecting the allegedly brute facts. The beliefs we form, the judgements we make, will always by mediated by the concepts available to us for describing what we have observed. But to employ a concept is always to appraise and classify our experience from a particular perspective and in a particular way. What we experience and report will accordingly be what is brought to our attention by the range of concepts we possess and the nature of the discriminations they enable us to make. We cannot hope to find any less winding a path from experience to belief, from observational evidence to any one determinate judgement.
- Quentin Skinner, "Interpretation, rationality and truth", Visions of Politics (2002)