Evidence and armchair access

Synthese 179 (3):479-500 (2011)
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In this paper, I shall discuss a problem that arises when you try to combine an attractive account of what constitutes evidence with an independently plausible account of the kind of access we have to our evidence. According to E = K, our evidence consists of what we know. According to the principle of armchair access, we can know from the armchair what our evidence is. Combined, these claims entail that we can have armchair knowledge of the external world. Because it seems that the principle of armchair access is supported by widely shared intuitions about epistemic rationality, it seems we ought to embrace an internalist conception of evidence. I shall argue that this response is mistaken. Because externalism about evidence can accommodate the relevant intuitions about epistemic rationality, the principle of armchair access is unmotivated. We also have independent reasons for preferring externalism about evidence to the principle of armchair access

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Clayton Littlejohn
Australian Catholic University

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