Rescuing a traditional argument for internalism

Synthese 201 (4):1-22 (2023)
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Early moderns such as Locke and Descartes thought we could guarantee the justification of our beliefs, even in worlds most hostile to their truth, if only we form those beliefs with sufficient care. That is, they thought it possible for us to be impeccable with respect to justification. This principle has traditionally been used to argue for internalism. By placing all of the normatively relevant conditions in our minds, we ensure reflective access to what those norms require of us and so sustain the possibility of impeccability (unlike externalism). However, recent challenges to transparency leave this reasoning vulnerable. In response, I show how impeccability can be sustained without requiring transparency. The account only works if we define internal states as those directly accessible to our rational belief forming systems. I argue that this sort of causal internalism, while somewhat revisionary, preserves traditional motivations for internalism while avoiding problems faced by other varieties. The result is a renewed argument for internalism that simultaneously moves us away from access internalism and towards a species of mentalism.


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Blake McAllister
Hillsdale College

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References found in this work

The structure of empirical knowledge.Laurence BonJour - 1985 - Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
Theory of knowledge.Roderick M. Chisholm - 1966 - Englewood Cliffs, N.J.,: Prentice-Hall.
Compassionate phenomenal conservatism.Michael Huemer - 2007 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 74 (1):30–55.

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