Skeptics in the Pub – Julian Baggini – Being sceptical of scepticism: Ways of being wrong

Friday 5 October 2012, 7:30 pm - 9:30 pm
At: Banshee Labyrinth, 29-35 Niddry Street, EH1 1LG

Julian Baggini

Julian Baggini

Being sceptical of scepticism: Ways of being wrong

John Stuart Mill once said, “In all intellectual debates, both sides tend to be correct in what they affirm, and wrong in what they deny.” He was wrong in what he affirmed, but right in what he denied, namely that people are usually wholly right or wrong. To undertake a sensitive critique of any belief, it is important to be very clear not just about the literal content of the belief in question, but what lies behind it and motivates it. Although some beliefs are just irredeemably batty, many wrong beliefs mask valuable truths. A scepticism which fails to save these from the wreckage of critique is an impoverished one. In my talk, I will attempt to outline some of the ways in which scepticism can fail to see the coal for the dirt.

Julian Baggini is a philosopher, writer and journalist. He was awarded a PhD from University College London for his thesis on the philosophy of personal identity in 1996. He then went on to found The Philosophers’ Magazine with Jeremy Stangroom, supporting himself with jobs that included teaching and, increasingly, journalism and writing.

He has authored, co-authored and co-edited several books. Among the most significant of these was his first major trade book, Making Sense: Philosophy Behind the Headines and the textbook he co-authored with Peter S. Fosl, The Philosophers’ Toolkit, which went through several reprints in its first year. The Pig that Wants to be Eaten became a popular science best seller and his latest book is Welcome to Everytown, which charts six months in a “typical” English town.

Julian is increasingly in demand as a journalist and commentator, writing for The Guardian, for BBC News Online, Prospect, Times Education Supplement, the Observer and New Humanist, among others. He makes regular appearances on national radio and television.



Dr Baggini is the author of several books about philosophy written for a general audience. He is the author of The Pig that Wants to be Eaten and 99 other thought experiments (2005) and is co-founder and editor-in-chief of The Philosophers’ Magazine. He was awarded his PhD in 1996 from University College London for a thesis on the philosophy of personal identity. He contributes to a variety of newspapers, magazines and BBC radio.

For more about Dr Baggiani, see his website:

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