Hello to anyone who sees this!

I'm looking for a word similar to "skepticism", but more positive. (Here, I define skepticism as the belief that we can never have certain knowledge.) Sorry if this format is weird, trying to follow the rules of single word requests:

  • Usage: "There was still much ___, but it had to be done."
    • Might be unclear, this noun describes a view/feeling, not a person.
  • I've searched for synonyms for skepticism, doubt, dubiety, etc. Not on any specific websites, just looking the words up on Google and clicking any results that looked useful.
  • I've got some pretty specific needs for this.
    • I'd prefer:
      • a short word, as in less characters and as many or less syllables as "skepticism"
      • a word that means something similar to being willing to question and give up beliefs
    • I need:
      • an English word specifically, even if it's a lesser-known one
      • a noun
  • Words I've tried are all too negative, or they switch too easily.
    • "Skepticism" - it's a very interesting, but still too strong, view in philosophy.
    • "Doubt" - this is mostly used in a negative way, as in "but still, they doubted him".
    • "Uncertainty" - this sounds less like questioning your beliefs, more like general confusion.
    • "Hesitancy" - this is questioning, but it's seen more as a weakness than a strength.
    • "Incertitude" - less a question, more a feeling that you don't actually know something.
  • I'm okay with closed compound words, but no hyphens.

Thank you in advance for any help, and if I need to change anything in the question, please let me know. This question is probably unnecessary, and I probably missed something when looking around.

  • Hello, 426. You've posted a lot of 'negative results', showing decent research, but it would be far more helpful if you went on to to tell us where you've already looked (so we don't try mining the same empty veins). / I doubt you'll find a workable synonym for the unusual sense of 'skepticism' you require. People over on Philosophy.SE might prove me semi-wrong. Wikipedia seems to offer no synonyms. Commented Jun 22, 2019 at 14:44
  • 2
    I don't think there is one, but sceptics usually just reappropriate it and use it positively. That makes a lot of sense to me. I'm not sure the term is inherently negative - it's just that most people view the outlook it refers to as negative... but that means they would view an alternative term referring to the same outlook in just the same way.
    – user339660
    Commented Jun 22, 2019 at 15:01
  • Are you looking for a noun that describes the person (they are an X) or that describes the information (it is an X)? Commented Jun 22, 2019 at 15:31
  • 1
    There's always "scruple".
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Jun 22, 2019 at 20:34
  • 1
    I'll note that, for me, "scientific skepticism" has a very positive connotation.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Jun 24, 2019 at 12:21

4 Answers 4


Perhaps debate suits your purpose: it's shorter and has less syllables than skepticism while meaning the same in a less negative manner (debates can be and usually are healthy).

"There was still much debate, but it had to be done."

or perhaps

"It was the subject of much debate, but had to be done."


debate NOUN

1 [COUNTABLE/UNCOUNTABLE] a discussion in which people or groups state different opinions about a subject

be the subject of much/some debate: Her books have been the subject of much debate.

  • Thank you! This works very well for what I'm doing. Sorry I'm here so late.
    – 426
    Commented Jul 1, 2019 at 16:41

What about simply

open? I would have to slightly change your sample sentence:

Much was still open, but it had to be done.

  • Confirmation is still needed.


  • I'm reserving judgment for now.

How about "much questioning"?

(You used "willing to question" among the characteristics you seek)

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