In this paper I consider a recent argument of Timothy Williamson’s that epistemic internalism and content externalism are indeed incompatible, and since he takes content externalism to be above reproach, so much the worse for epistemic internalism. However, I argue that epistemic internalism, properly understood, remains substantially unaffected no matter which view of content turns out to be correct. What is key to the New Evil Genius thought experiment is that, given everything of which the (...) inhabitants are consciously aware, the two worlds are subjectively indistinguishable for them, which is what matters on internalist accounts of epistemic justification. I argue that even if a standard moral of the New Evil Genius intuition is untenable due to considerations arising from content externalism, the case can be understood as supporting epistemic internalism in a way that is wholly compatible with content externalism. In short, epistemic internalism is committed to sameness of justificatory status between subjectively indistinguishable counterparts, not sameness of content of their justifiers. (shrink)
Internalism in epistemology is the view that all the factors relevant to the justification of a belief are importantly internal to the believer, while externalism is the view that at least some of those factors are external. This extremely modest first approximation cries out for refinement (which we undertake below), but is enough to orient us in the right direction, namely that the debate between internalism and externalism is bound up with the controversy over the correct account of (...) the distinction between justified beliefs and unjustified beliefs.1 Understanding that distinction has occasionally been obscured by attention to the analysis of knowledge and to the Gettier problem, but our view is that these problems, while interesting, should not completely seduce philosophers away from central questions about epistemic justification. A plausible starting point in the discussion of justification is that the distinction between justified beliefs and unjustified beliefs is not the same as the distinction between true beliefs and false beliefs. This follows from the mundane observation that it is possible to rationally believe.. (shrink)
This paper explores the generally overlooked relevance of an important contemporary debate in mainstream epistemology to philosophers working within ethics on questions concerning moral knowledge. It is argued that this debate, between internalists and externalists about the accessibility of epistemic justification, has the potential to be both significantly influenced by, and have a significant impact upon, the study of moral knowledge. The moral sphere provides a particular type of strong evidence in favour of externalism, and mainstream epistemologists might (...) benefit from paying attention to this fact. At the same time, the terrain of moral epistemology (approached as a sub-field of metaethics) needs to be reshaped by the realisation that externalists can steal the thunder of intuitionists when it comes to knowledge constituted by seemingly self-evident beliefs.1. (shrink)
Virtually all philosophers agree that for a belief to be epistemically justified, it must satisfy certain conditions. Perhaps it must be supported by evidence. Or perhaps it must be reliably formed. Or perhaps there are some other "good-making" features it must have. But does a belief's justification also require some sort of awareness of its good-making features? The answer to this question has been hotly contested in contemporary epistemology, creating a deep divide among its practitioners. Internalists, who tend to focus (...) on scientific or theoretical beliefs as the ideal, insist that such awareness is required for justification. Externalists, who think children's ordinary beliefs in obvious facts are paradigm cases of justified belief, say it isn't required. Michael Bergmann's book offers a decisive refutation of internalism and a sustained defense of externalism. (shrink)
Two concepts of the internal should be distinguished in the current epistemic internalism/externalism debate: (1) the internal in an introspective sense as what is accessible by introspection and (2) the internal in a biological sense as what is inside the organism's nervous system. When "internal" is meant in the introspective sense, Goldman's process reliabilism is externalist, but when "internal" is taken in the biological sense, Goldman's process reliabilism is internalist. Goldman as a naturalist prefers "internal" in the biological (...) sense, but the concept is unsuitable for presenting the current epistemic internalism/externalism controversy. If one understands "internal" in the introspective sense, Goldman's reliabilism is strongly externalist. (shrink)
Recent discussion of Vogel-style “bootstrapping” scenarios suggests that they provide counterexamples to a wide variety of epistemological theories. Yet it remains unclear why it’s bad for a theory to permit bootstrapping, or even exactly what counts as a bootstrapping case. Going back to Vogel's original bootstrapping example, I note that an agent who could gain justification through the method Vogel describes would have available a “no-lose investigation”: an investigation that can justify a proposition but has no possibility of undermining it. (...) The main suggestion of this article is that an epistemological theory should not permit no-lose investigations. I identify necessary and sufficient conditions for such investigations, then explore epistemological theories that rule them out. If we want to avoid both skepticism and no-lose investigations, we must eschew either Closure or epistemicexternalism. (shrink)
Whereas a number of recent articles have focussed upon whether the thesis of content externalism is compatible with a certain sort of knowledge that is gained via first-person authority,1 far less attention has been given to the relationship that this thesis bears to the possession of knowledge in general and, in particular, its relation to internalist and externalist epistemologies. Nevertheless, although very few actual arguments have been presented to this end, there does seem to be a shared suspicion that (...) content externalism must be incompatible with epistemic internalism. In a recent and influential paper, however, James Chase has challenged this conventional wisdom by offering a subtle defence of the view that content externalism and epistemic internalism are, in fact, compatible after all.2 Our aim here is twofold. First, to show that Chase is only able to achieve this result because he focuses upon the internalist conception of justification, rather than knowledge. Second, to formulate one prima facie argument which shows that an internalist conception of knowledge is incompatible with an externalist conception of content, an argument which, moreover, is not touched by Chase. (shrink)
The internalism/externalism debate is of interest in epistemology since it addresses one of the most fundamental questions in the discipline: what is the basic nature of knowledge and epistemic justification? It is generally held that if a positive epistemic status obtains, this is not a brute fact. Rather if a belief is, for example, justified, it is justified in virtue of some further condition(s) obtaining. What has been called epistemic internalism holds, as the label suggests, is (...) that all the relevant factors that determine justification must be “internal” (in a sense that needs to be specified). Epistemicexternalism is the denial of internalism. Epistemic internalism about justification is the subject of this article. <br> After introducing the central intuitive considerations that have tended to motivate internalism, this paper will explore different ways of construing the internalist position (or family of positions). In addition to classical formulations, more recent formulations will be discussed, concluding with a discussion of an emerging position known as “Epistemological Disjunctivism”, which its advocates claim preserves the most important features of more traditional forms of internalism, while avoiding their difficulties. Epistemological Disjunctivism is particularly worthy of attention since if true, it promises to bridge internalist and externalist epistemologies, bringing a rapprochement to two sides of what may otherwise appear a deep and intractable debate about the fundamental nature of epistemology. <br>. (shrink)
In his book, Contemporary Theories of Knowledge, John Pollock argues that all externalist theories of justification should be rejected on the grounds that they do not do justice to the action-guiding character of epistemic norms. I reply that Pollocks argument is ineffective — because not all externalisms are intended to involve action-guiding norms, and because Pollock does not give a good reason for thinking that action-guiding norms must be internalist norms. Second, I consider rehabilitating Pollocks argument by restricting his (...) conclusion to theories that do involve action-guiding norms and providing a better reason to think that action-guiding norms must be internalist norms. But I claim that if Pollocks argument is made strong enough to rule out all externalisms, it rules out too much, namely, any plausible conception of epistemic norms. (shrink)
This paper addresses a problem about epistemic warrant. The problem is posed by philosophical arguments for externalism about the contents of thoughts, and similarly by philosophical arguments for architecturalism about thinking, when these arguments are put together with a thesis of first person authority. In each case, first personal knowledge about our thoughts plus the kind of knowledge that is provided by a philosophical argument seem, together, to open an unacceptably ‘non-empirical’ route to knowledge of empirical facts. Furthermore, (...) this unwelcome prospect of transferring a ‘non-empirical’ warrant from premises about our own mental states and about philosophical theory to a conclusion about external environment or internal architecture seems to depend upon little more than the possibility of knowledge by inference. (The use of the scare-quoted term ‘non-empirical’ is explained a couple of paragraphs further on.). (shrink)
The notion of entitlement plays an important role in some influential epistemologies. Often the epistemological motive for introducing the concept is to accommodate certain externalist intuitions within an internalist framework or, conversely, to incorporate internalist traits into an otherwise externalist position. In this paper two prominent philosophers will be used as examples: Tyler Burge as a representative of the first option and Fred Dretske as one of the second. However, even on the assumption that the concept of entitlement is sufficiently (...) clarified, accomplishing these results is easier said than done – especially if we also want to ascribe positive epistemic value to entitlement. It will be shown that the epistemic value of entitlement is either granted at the expense of the epistemic value of justification or the value ends up below the level of value at which the epistemologists employing the concept of entitlement are aiming. (shrink)
'Epistemic' theories of vagueness notoriously claim that (despite the appearances to the contrary) all of our vague terms have sharp boundaries, it's just that we can't know what they are. Epistemic theories are typically criticized for failing to explain (1) the source of the ignorance postulated, and (2) how our terms could come to have such precise boundaries. Both of these objections will, however, be shown to rest on certain 'presentist' assumptions about the relation between use and meaning, (...) and if allows that the meaning constitutive elements of our linguistic practices can extend into the future, the possibility of a new sort of 'normative epistemicism' emerges. (shrink)
The purpose of this paper is to raise a new objection to externalist process reliabilism about epistemic justification. The objection is that epistemic justification is intensional—it does not permit the substitution of co-referring expressions—and reliabilism cannot accommodate that.
This paper starts with an examination of the major problems of foundation-oriented epistemology in Sect. 2. Then, in Sects. 3–4, it is argued that the externalistic re-definition of knowledge deprives this concept from useful applications to human’s epistemic practice. From the viewpoint of cultural evolution, the condition of justification is the most important ingredient of knowledge. An alternative foundation-oriented conception of knowledge called third-person internalism is developed in Sect. 2 and Sect. 5. It combines insights of externalism with (...) the requirement of second-order justification. The application of third-person internalism to contextualistic positions leads to an important constraint on contextualism (Sect. 6). The final section (Sect. 7) sketches new prospects for a foundation-oriented epistemology which are based on epistemic optimality arguments. (shrink)
This paper identifies and criticizes certain fundamental commitments of virtue theories in epistemology. A basic question for virtues approaches is whether they represent a ‘third force’––a different source of normativity to internalism and externalism. Virtues approaches so-conceived are opposed. It is argued that virtues theories offer us nothing that can unify the internalist and externalist sub-components of their preferred success-state. Claims that character can unify a virtues-based axiology are overturned. Problems with the pluralism of virtues theories are identified––problems with (...) pluralism and the nature of the self; and problems with pluralism and the goals of epistemology. Moral objections to virtue theory are identified––specifically, both the idea that there can be a radical axiological priority to character and the anti-enlightenment tendencies in virtues approaches. Finally, some strengths to virtue theory are conceded, while the role of epistemic luck is identified as an important topic for future work. (shrink)
The regress problem and foundationalism -- Externalist accounts of justification -- In search of coherentism -- Back to foundationalism -- The conceptualization of sensory experience and the problem of the external world -- Knowledge and justification -- Does knowledge have foundation -- Skepticism and the internal/external divide -- A virtue epistemology -- Reply to Sosa -- Reply to Bonjour.
A common picture of evolution by natural selection sees it as a process through which organisms change so that they become better adapted to their environment. However, agents do not merely respond to the challenges their environments pose. They modify their environments, filtering and transforming the action of the environment on their bodies A beaver, in making a dam, engineers a stream, increasing both the size of its safe refuge and reducing its seasonal variability. Beavers, like many other animals, are (...) ecological engineers. They act to modify the physical challenges posed by their environment. Nests, burrows and other shelters reduce the impacts of adverse weather and of other agents. Animal also modify their exposure to biological risks. Hygienic behaviour reduces the impact of disease. Intensive grooming; moving to new roosts; using a. (shrink)
Controlling one's mental agency encompasses two forms of metacognitive operations, self-probing and post-evaluating. Metacognition so defined might seem to fuel an internalist view of epistemic norms, where rational feelings are available to instruct a thinker of what she can do, and allow her to be responsible for her mental agency. Such a view, however, ignores the dynamics of the mind–world interactions that calibrate the epistemic sentiments as reliable indicators of epistemic norms. A 'brain in the lab' thought (...) experiment suggests that an internalist view of epistemic feelings is unable to account for the contrast between norm-tracking, educated sentiments, and illusory feelings. (shrink)
Our fundamental conception of the self seems to be, broadly speaking, epistemic: selves are things that have thoughts, undergo experiences, and possess reasons for action and belief. In this paper, I evaluate the consequences of this epistemic conception for the widespread view that properties like thinking that arthritis is painful are relational features of the self.
Some of the most well-known arguments against epistemicexternalism come in the form of thought experiments involving subjects who acquire beliefs through anomolous means such as clairvoyance. These thought experiments purport to provide counterexamples to the reliabilist conception of justification: their subjects are intuitively epistemically unjustified, yet meet reliabilist externalist criteria for justification. In this article, I address a recent defence of externalism due to Daniel Breyer, who argues that externalists need not consider such subjects justified, since (...) they fail to own those beliefs in a way required for epistemic evaluability. I argue that the concept of belief ownership Breyer adopts leaves his account open to related counterexamples, and suggest a modification, drawing on analogies between these cases and cases of delusions, such as thought insertion. I will argue that a concept of authorship developed in the literature on delusions better grounds the sense of attribution required for epistemic evaluability. (shrink)
I want to discuss an approach to knowledge that I shall call simple conversational contextualism or SCC for short. Proponents of SCC think that it offers an illuminating account of both why scepti- cism is wrong and why arguments for scepticism are so intuitively appealing. I have my doubts.
In this chapter, I argue for the thesis that phenomenal consciousness is the basis of epistemic justification. More precisely, I argue for the thesis of phenomenal mentalism, according to which epistemic facts about which doxastic attitudes one has justification to hold are determined by non-epistemic facts about one’s phenomenally individuated mental states. I begin by providing intuitive motivations for phenomenal mentalism and then proceed to sketch a more theoretical line of argument according to which phenomenal mentalism provides (...) the best explanation of the independently motivated thesis of access internalism. The result is a theory of epistemic justification that brings intuition and theory into reflective equilibrium. (shrink)
In ' Unnatural Doubts' Michael Williams argues that Cartesian skepticism is not truly an "intuitive problem" (that is, one which we can state with little or no appeal to contentious theories) at all. According to Williams, the skeptic has rich theoretical commitments all his own, prominent among which is the epistemic priority thesis. I argue, however, that Williams's diagnostic critique of the epistemic priority thesis fails on his own conception of what is required for success. Furthermore, in a (...) brief "Afterword" I argue that the later Wittgenstein (to whom Williams sometimes appeals) would concur with my critique of Williams's antiskeptical efforts. (shrink)
The problem of epistemic circularity maintains that we cannot know that our central belief-forming practices (faculties) are reliable without vicious circularity. Ernest Sosa's Reflective Knowledge (2009) offers a solution to this problem. Sosa argues that epistemic circularity is virtuous rather than vicious: it is not damaging. Contra Sosa, I contend that epistemic circularity is damaging. Section 1 provides an overview of Sosa's solution. Section 2 focuses on Sosa's reply to the Crystal ballgazer Objection. Section 2 also contends (...) that epistemic circularity does not prevent us from tóng justified in (e. g.) perceptual beliefs, or from being justified in believing that (e. g.) sense perception is reliable. But, Sect. 3 argues that it does prevent us from being able to satisfactorily show that our central belief-forming practices (faculties) are reliable. That is, epistemic circularity prevents us from distinguishing between reliable and unreliable practices, from guiding ourselves to use reliable practices and avoid unreliable ones, and from defending reliable practices against skepticism. Hence, epistemic circularity is still damaging. The concluding section suggests that this has repercussions for Sosa's analysis of the value of reflective knowledge. (shrink)
Our aim is to provide a topography of the relevant philosophical terrain with regard to the possible ways in which knowledge can be conceived of as extended. We begin by charting the different types of internalist and externalist proposals within epistemology, and we critically examine the different formulations of the epistemic internalism/externalism debate they lead to. Next, we turn to the internalism/externalism distinction within philosophy of mind and cognitive science. In light of the above dividing lines, we (...) then examine first the extent to which content externalism is compatible with epistemicexternalism; second, whether active externalism entails epistemicexternalism; and third whether there are varieties of epistemicexternalism that are better suited to accommodate active externalism. Finally, we examine whether the combination of epistemic and cognitive externalism is necessary for epistemology and we comment on the potential ramifications of this move for social epistemology and philosophy of science. (shrink)
Abstract Do the central aims of epistemology, like those of moral philosophy, require that we designate some important place for those concepts located between the thin-normative and the non-normative? Put another way, does epistemology need ?thick? evaluative concepts? There are inveterate traditions in analytic epistemology which, having legitimized a certain way of viewing the nature and scope of epistemology's subject matter, give this question a negative verdict; further, they have carried with them a tacit commitment to what we argue to (...) be an epistemic analogue of the reductionistic centralist thesis that Bernard Williams in our view successfully challenged in ethics. In this essay, we challenge these traditional dogmas and in doing so align ourselves with what has been recently called the ?Value Turn? in epistemology. From this perspective, we defend that, contrary to tradition, epistemology does need thick evaluative concepts. Further, the sort of theories that will be able to give thick evaluative concepts a deservedly central role in both belief and agent evaluation are those non-centralist projects that fall within what we call the second-wave of virtue epistemology. We recognize that, in breaking from centralism, there is a worry that a resulting anti-centralist theory will be reductionistic in the other direction- making the thick primary. We contend however that second-wave virtue epistemologies should be thought to provide the wave of the right thickness, and as such, constitute the most promising approaches within a field that has become increasingly more normative, diverse and expansive than was the traditional set of problems from which it emerged. (shrink)
Part 1 argues that, despite rhetorical appearances, McDowell accepts a standard version of epistemicexternalism. Moreover, epistemicexternalism plays an important role in McDowell’s response to skepticism. Part 2 argues that, contra McDowell, epistemicexternalism is necessary for rejecting skepticism, and content externalism is not sufficient for rejecting skepticism.
The dialogue between internalists who maintain a belief is a case of knowledge when that which justifies the belief is within the agent's first-person perspective and externalists who maintain epistemic justification can be in part, or entirely, outside the agent's first-person perspective has been part of the epistemological literature for some time with one side usually attempting to show how the other side is mistaken. Edward Craig argues the internalist/externalist debate is flawed from the outset. Specifically, both internalism and (...)externalism should be incorporated into the correct analysis of knowledge once we revamp that project. The epistemological project, according to Craig, is a practical explication of what both our epistemological practices and the concept of knowledge do for us. My purpose here is to evaluate this proposal, as well as Ram Neta's attempt to generalize this proposal to cover all epistemic appraisals, in light of the internalism/externalism debate. I argue the Craig/Neta proposal does not actually 'solve' the internalism/externalism debate, but rather pushes it back a level or assumes that one side is correct; hence, the Craig/Neta proposal is not an adequate 'solution' to the internalism/externalism debate. (shrink)
Radical skepticism about the external world is founded on two assumptions: one is that the mind and the external world are logically independent; the other is that all our evidence for the nature of that world consists of facts about our minds. In this paper, I explore the option of denying the epistemic, rather than the logical assumption. I argue that one can do so only by embracing externalism about justification, or, after all, by rejecting the logical independence (...) assumption. Since (I argue) externalism is not a solution to the problem of skepticism, this means that skepticism is false only if the mind and the world are not logically independent. (shrink)
While epistemic justification is a central concern for both contemporary epistemology and philosophy of science, debates in contemporary epistemology about the nature of epistemic justification have not been discussed extensively by philosophers of science. As a step toward a coherent account of scientific justification that is informed by, and sheds light on, justificatory practices in the sciences, this paper examines one of these debatesâ€”the internalistâ€“externalist debateâ€”from the perspective of objective accounts of scientific evidence. In particular, we focus on (...) Deborah Mayoâ€™s error-statistical theory of evidence because it is a paradigmatically objective theory of evidence that is strongly informed by methodological practice. We contend that from the standpoint of such an objective theory of evidence, justification in science has both externalist and internalist characteristics. In reaching this conclusion, however, we find that the terms of the contemporary debate between internalists and externalists have to be redefined to be applicable to scientific contexts. (shrink)
The “puzzle of the unmarked clock” derives from a conflict between the following: (1) a plausible principle of epistemic modesty, and (2) “Rational Reflection”, a principle saying how one’s beliefs about what it is rational to believe constrain the rest of one’s beliefs. An independently motivated improvement to Rational Reflection preserves its spirit while resolving the conflict.
The development of the semantic externalism in the 1970s was followed by a debate on the compatibility of externalism and self-knowledge. Boghossian’s memory argument is one of the most important arguments against the compatibilist view. However, some compatibilists attack Boghossian’s argument by pointing out that his understanding of memory is internalistic. Ludlow and others developed the externalist view of memory to defend the compatibility of externalism and self-knowledge. However, the externalist view of memory undermines the epistemic (...) status of memory since it gives memory a burden that is too heavy for it to carry. This paper argues that only if we take the content of memory to be narrow and take that of self-knowledge to be wide and replace Cartesian self-knowledge with contextually constrained self-knowledge, can the compatibility of externalism and self-knowledge be effectively defended. (shrink)
Michael Bergmann has argued that internalist accounts of justification face an insoluble dilemma. This paper begins with an explanation of Bergmann’s dilemma. Next, I review some recent attempts to answer the dilemma, which I argue are insufficient to overcome it. The solution I propose presents an internalist account of justification through direct acquaintance. My thesis is that direct acquaintance can provide subjective epistemic assurance without falling prey to the quagmire of difficulties that Bergmann alleges all internalist accounts of justification (...) cannot surmount. (shrink)
This was my first paper on virtue epistemology, and already highlights the connections with epistemic value and axiology which I would later develop. Although most accounts were either internalist or externalist in an exclusive sense, I suggest an inquiry-focused version through connections with the American pragmatism.
This paper explores in detail an argument for epistemic expressivism, what we call the Argument from Motivation. While the Argument from Motivation has sometimes been anticipated, it has never been set out in detail. The argument has three premises, roughly, that certain judgments expressed in attributions of knowledge are intrinsically motivating in a distinct way (P1); that motivation for action requires desire-like states or conative attitudes (HTM); and that the semantic content of knowledge attributions cannot be specified without reference (...) to the intrinsically motivating judgments that such attributions express (P2). We argue that these premises entail a version of ecumenical expressivism. Since the argument from motivation has not been explicitly stated before, there is no current discussion of the argument. In this paper we therefore consider and reject various objections that one might propose to the argument, including some that stem from the idea that knowledge is factive, or that knowledge involves evidence that rules out relevant alternatives. Other objections to (P1) specifically might be derived from cases of apparent lack of epistemic motivation considered in in Kvanvig (The value of knowledge and the pursuit of understanding, 2003) and Brown (Nous 42(2):167–189, 2008), as well as from general forms of externalism about epistemic motivation. We consider these and find them wanting. Finally, the paper offers some critical remarks about the prospect of denying (P2). (shrink)