Understanding the internalism-externalism debate: What is the boundary of the thinker?

Philosophical Perspectives 26 (1):51-75 (2012)
Authors
Brie Gertler
University of Virginia
Abstract
Externalism about mental content is now widely accepted. It is therefore surprising that there is no established definition of externalism. I believe that this is a symptom of an unrecognized fact: that the labels 'mental content externalism' -- and its complement 'mental content internalism' -- are profoundly ambiguous. Under each of these labels falls a hodgepodge of sometimes conflicting claims about the organism's contribution to thought contents, the nature of the self, relations between the individual and her community, and the epistemic availability of thoughts. This situation stems from the fact that contributors to debates about externalism differ in how they understand 'internal property'; these differences reveal (or, perhaps, generate) disparate conceptions of what is at issue in these debates. I argue that this situation is irremediable. There is no way to understand 'internal property' that will conform with prevailing beliefs about the nature of internalism and externalism, and with the usual taxonomy of leading positions. This ambiguity carries a heavy price: participants in these debates often argue at cross-purposes, disagreeing even on the nature of the evidence that could settle the question of externalism. Progress on the broad range of issues associated with these debates requires that we abandon the categories 'internalism' and 'externalism'. I close by suggesting a promising avenue for future research related to these issues.
Keywords mental content  the self  externalism
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1111/phpe.12001
Options
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

References found in this work BETA

Knowledge and its Limits.Timothy Williamson - 2000 - Oxford University Press.
Essays on Actions and Events.Donald Davidson - 1980 - Oxford University Press.
The Extended Mind.Andy Clark & David J. Chalmers - 1998 - Analysis 58 (1):7-19.
Individualism and the Mental.Tyler Burge - 1979 - Midwest Studies in Philosophy 4 (1):73-122.

View all 25 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Externalism About Mental Content.Joe Lau - 2008 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Semantic Internalism and Externalism.Katalin Farkas - 2006 - In Ernest Lepore & Barry C. Smith (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Language. Oxford University Press. pp. 323.
Tim Crane on the Internalism-Externalism Debate.Ana Gavran - 2004 - Croatian Journal of Philosophy 4 (11):207-218.
Phenomenal Character, Phenomenal Concepts, and Externalism.Jonathan Ellis - 2010 - Philosophical Studies 147 (2):273 - 299.
Externalism, Internalism, and Knowledge of Content.Keith Butler - 1997 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 57 (4):773-800.

Analytics

Added to PP index
2009-02-24

Total downloads
711 ( #2,867 of 2,287,528 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
78 ( #4,235 of 2,287,528 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Monthly downloads

My notes

Sign in to use this feature