You should not believe me unless I offer you, or you have independent access to, compelling reasons to do so. In fact, I think that you’ll find that, so far, most of the responsesthat have been posted to the questions on AskPhilosophers.org have notaimed at persuasion–at getting to you believe something. Instead, mostof us have described ways of thinking about particular philosophicalissues which we ourselves have found helpful or interesting. Certainquestions that used to be very puzzling now seem much less so once wenotice certain conceptual distinctions, certain ambiguities inlanguage, or certain tempting fallacies of reasoning. Equally,questions that initially seemed pretty straightforward can be shown tobe much more complex, and so much more puzzling, once we noticecounter-intuitive implications of the straightforward or common-senseanswers to these questions.
Fair enough, Alan. Based on my experience of human beings, the more sociableand cheerful attitude that you suggest seems appropriate as ageneral day-to-day attitude toward others. I’m generally not worriedthat people are lying to me. But I understood the question differently– not as directed to humanity in general, but at us in particular, the panelists on AskPhilosophers. I took the questionernot to be wondering whether we were lying but whether we knew what wewere talking about. There are a lot of people out there promisinganswers to life’s big questions, and skepticism seems to me to be aperfectly healthy response to these promises. It was for this reasonthat I tried to assure the questioner that we aren’t making any suchpromises.