Content Externalism and the Internalism/Externalism Debate in Justification Theory

European Journal of Philosophy 11 (1):89-107 (2003)

Hamid Vahid
Institute for Fundamental Sciences
While recent debates over content externalism have been mainly concerned with whether it undermines the traditional thesis of privileged self‐knowledge, little attention has been paid to what bearing content externalism has on such important controversies as the internalism/externalism debate in epistemology. With a few exceptions, the question has either been treated as a side issue in discussions concerning the implications of content externalism, or has been dealt with in a cursory way in debates over the internalism/externalism distinction in justification theory. In this paper, I begin by considering some of the arguments that have sought to address the question, focusing mainly on Boghossian's pioneering attempt in bringing the issue to the fore.1 It will be argued that Boghossian's attempt to exploit the alleged non‐inferentiality of self‐knowledge to show that content externalism and justification internalism are incompatible fails.In the course of this examination, I consider and reject as inadequate some recent responses to Boghossian's argument. I then turn to evaluating Chase's own proposed argument to show how content externalism can be brought to bear on the internalism/externalism debate in epistemology, and find it wanting. Finally, having discussed BonJour's terse remarks in this connection,3 I set out to present, what I take to be, the strongest argument for the incompatibility of content externalism and justification internalism while highlighting the controversial character of one of its main premises. Let us, however, begin by drawing the contours of the debate.
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DOI 10.1111/ejop.2003.11.issue-1
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