Reconciling justificatory internalism and content externalism

Synthese 187 (2):419-440 (2012)

Chris Tillman
University of Manitoba
At first pass, internalism about justification is the view that there is no justificatory difference without an internal difference. Externalism about mental content is the view that there are differences in mental content without an internal difference. Assuming mental contents are the primary bearers of justificatory features, the two views are in obvious tension. The goal of this paper is to determine how the tension is best resolved. The paper proceeds as follows. In §1 I explain the threat to justificatory internalism from content externalism in more detail. In §2 I present Earl Conee and Richard Feldman’s “counterpart propositions” reply to the problem of content externalism. §3 criticizes the counterpart propositions reply. §4 presents a view in the metaphysics of belief that is widely adopted by content externalists: one that appeals to vehicles of content, modes of presentation of content, or ways of believing propositions. §5 exploits this metaphysics of belief in order to better accommodate justificatory internalist insights in light of content externalism. §6 shows how the new view can be used to address problems that face Conee and Feldman’s account. Finally, §7 provides a new argument from the Vehicle View for the language of thought hypothesis
Keywords Justification Internalism  Content Externalism  Language of Thought
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DOI 10.1007/s11229-010-9827-y
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