Reliabilism, truetemp and new perceptual faculties

Synthese 140 (3):307 - 329 (2004)
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According to the thought experiment most commonly used to argue against reliabilism, Mr. Truetemp is given an unusual but reliable cognitive faculty. Since he is unaware of the existence of this faculty, its deliverances strike him as rather odd. Many think that Truetemp would not have justified beliefs. Since he satisfies the reliabilist conditions for justified belief, reliabilism appears to be mistaken. I argue that the Truetemp case is underdescribed and that this leads readers to make erroneous assumptions about Truetemp's epistemic situation. After examining empirical studies of actual subjects who, like Truetemp, have received new perceptual faculties, I show that Truetemp must have been endowed with all of the reorganized neural circuitry and cognitive skills that subjects with new perceptual faculties normally acquire during a long and difficult process of adaptation and development. When readers realize how much more the designers of Truetemp's new faculty had to do than simply slip an artificial device under Truetemp's scalp, I find that they no longer think his beliefs would be unjustified. Because the thought experiment fails to support anti-reliabilist intuitions when further details of the case are made explicit, the Truetemp thought experiment does not constitute a clear and decisive counterexample to reliabilism



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James R. Beebe
University at Buffalo

Citations of this work

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An internalist externalism.William P. Alston - 1988 - Synthese 74 (3):265 - 283.

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