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Robert Nozick , p. The other prominent view of internal states is that they are mental states. Mentalism, like accessibilism, is a view about propositional justification, not doxastic justification. Mentalism is connected to accessibilism since according to the Cartesian tradition one can determine which mental states one is in by reflection alone. A defender of a mentalist view needs to explain which mental states determine justificatory status. Do all mental states—hopes, fears, longings—determine propositional justification or just some mental states, such as beliefs and experiences?

Moreover, a defender of mentalism needs to clarify whether both current and non-current mental states can determine justificatory status. A non-current mental state is a mental state that you do not currently host. For instance, you believed a moment ago that is greater than 86 but currently you are not thinking about this. Many understand the notion of access to be a thinly disguised epistemic term see, for instance, Fumerton p.

To have access to some fact is just to know whether or not that fact obtains. This is problematic for an accessibilist because he analyzes justification in terms of access and then use the notion of justification to partially explicate knowledge.


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The mentalist escapes this problem. However, mentalism does face the objection that since it eschews the notion of access it is not a genuine form of internalism see Bergmann for a further examination of this issue. Before we press on to other issues in the I-E debate let us take stock of what has been considered. Internalism is the view that all the factors that determine propositional justification are either reflectively accessible states that is, accessibilism or mental states that is, mentalism.

Internalists also hold that doxastic justification, which is propositional justification and a basing requirement, is necessary for knowledge. We can think of internalism as the view that all the factors that determine justification apart from a basing requirement are internal. Let us call these justification determining factors, minus the basing requirement, the J-factors. Externalists about justification deny that the J-factors are all internal. If, however, we view externalism merely as a negative thesis then we lose sight of its distinctly philosophical motivation.

This section examines prominent reasons for internalism. These three motivations are conspicuous in arguments for internalism.

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After giving each reason I shall consider externalist responses. Also I cannot appeal to the causal origins of that belief or to the reliability of the specific belief process. Those sorts of facts are beyond my ken. Whatever I can appeal to will be something I am aware of. I need a good reason for thinking that Karen is good indicator about these sorts of things. So rationality requires good reasons that indicate a belief is true. To draw out this commitment let us expand on the above example. But not every belief of mine is supported by other beliefs I have.

These kinds of beliefs are called basic beliefs , beliefs that are not supported by other beliefs. What reason do you have for this belief? It might be difficult to say. Externalists think that that is just too tall of an order. In fact one of the early motivations for externalism was to handle the justification of basic beliefs see Armstrong In general, externalists think that basic beliefs can be justified merely by the belief meeting some external condition.

One complication with this, though, is that some externalists think a basic belief require reasons but that reasons should be understood in an externalist fashion see Alston So, to the extent that one is moved by the internalist intuition, one will think that externalism falls. It allows for justification without good reasons. A related argument used to support internalism appeals to the inadequacy of externalism to answer philosophical curiosity see Fumerton If we take up the Socratic project, then we are interested in determining whether our most basic beliefs about reality are likely to be true.

This suggests that to the extent that we are interested in whether our beliefs are epistemically justified internalism is the only game in town. Externalist Response One early externalist response was to note that internalists focus on conditions they use to determine justificatory status but that this is conceptually distinct from conditions that actually do determine justificatory status.

An adequate definition of albinos may be entirely useless for finding actual albinos see Armstrong , p. What this shows is that internalists need an additional argument from the fact that we can appeal to only internal factors to determine justification to the conclusion that only internal facts determine justification. Another early response to this internalist tactic is to argue that internalism fails to meet its own demands. Alvin Goldman presents an argument of this kind, claiming that there is no definite and acceptable set of internalistic conditions that determine what cognitive attitude a subject should have given her evidence.

Goldman argues for this conclusion by supposing that there is some set of internalistic conditions and then contenting that there no acceptable way to accommodate this set of conditions within the constraints laid down by internalists. For instance, Goldman reasons that one internalistic constraint is that the correctness of these conditions be reflectively accessible. Goldman then argues that other accounts of the correctness of this procedure likewise fail. So it is not possible for internalism to meet its own severe restrictions.

For a similar argument see Richard Foley There is a two-fold implication to this. Second, if one maintains proper doxastic attitudes one will have by and large true beliefs. Locke, like Descartes, connects justification with duty fulfillment. The argument from the deontological character of justification to internalism proceeds as follows. Smith was intellectually virtuous in his believing and drew the appropriate conclusion given the evidence he possessed. Jones should have believed otherwise. Smith appropriately believes this and Jones does not.

Since externalists would require some other non-reflectively accessible condition externalism is wrong. One should note that this argument supports accessiblism, not mentalism. Externalist Response Externalists have responded to this line of argument in two ways. First, some externalists deny that facts about duties, rights, or blameworthiness are relevant to the sense of justification necessary for knowledge.

Second, other externalists deny that the deontological character of justification supports accessibilism. Arguments of the first kind fall into two groups: a arguments that a necessary condition for rights, duties, or blameworthiness is not met with respect to belief and b arguments that facts about deontology are not relevant to determining epistemic facts.

This is the issue of doxastic voluntarism. Sosa and Plantinga present arguments for b. The basic idea in these cases is that an individual may be deeply epistemically flawed but nonetheless perfectly blameless in his or her belief. Michael Bergmann , chapter 4 presents an argument of the second type that the deontological character of justification does not support accessibilism.

It does not support the stronger requirement that the person be aware of positive reasons for the belief. Bergmann then argues the weaker requirement is consistent with externalism. A different strategy to support internalism is to appeal to natural judgment about cases. I shall present the two cases and then offer an externalist response.

As Sosa a explains the two cases are related in that each is the mirror image of the other. In the Norman case there is reliability without internal evidence while in the new evil demon problem there is internal evidence without reliability. Subsequent discussion has focused mainly on the case of Norman. BonJour describes the Norman case as follows:. Norman, under certain conditions that usually obtain, is a completely reliable clairvoyant with respect to certain kinds of subject matter.

He possesses no evidence or reasons of any kind for or against the general possibility of such a cognitive power, or for or against the thesis that he possesses it. One day Norman comes to believe that the President is in New York City, though he has no evidence either for or against his belief. In fact the belief is true and results from his clairvoyant power, under circumstances in which it is completely reliable. Norman just finds himself believing that. Were Norman to reflect on his belief he would come to see that that belief is unsupported.

Norman is not aware of this fact. The Norman case is used to illustrate a general problem with externalism. Yet where the subject lacks any internally accessible reason for thinking the belief is true it seems irrational for the subject to maintain that belief. Rationality requires good reasons. The original evil demon problem comes from Descartes. In the Meditations Descartes entertains the possibility that he is deceived by a powerful demon in believing that for example, he has hands.

Descartes concludes that he needs to rule out this possibility by providing good reasons for thinking that he is not deceived in this way and that he can take the evidence of his senses at face value. Most epistemologists think Descartes concedes too much by requiring that he rule out this possibility in order to know that he has hands on the basis of the evidence he possesses. This problem does not require that one rule out the possibility of massive deception in order to have knowledge.

Rather the problem is intended to illustrate the inadequacy of externalism. The problem is that there are possible individuals with the same evidence as we possess but whose evidence is not truth indicative. For instance we can conceive of individuals that have been placed in Matrix scenarios in which their brains are stimulated to have all the same experiences we have. When we seem to see a tree, normally a tree is present.

However, when these individuals in a Matrix scenario seem to see a tree, there is no tree present.

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Their experiences are systematically misleading. Nevertheless since they possess just the same evidence that we have, the justificatory status of their beliefs is exactly the same as ours. This intuition reflects the key internalist claim that two individuals that are alike mentally are alike with respect to justification. Externalists are committed to denying this symmetry. Since the individuals in the Matrix world fail to meet the relevant external condition their beliefs are unjustified, but since our beliefs meet the external condition our beliefs are justified.

Both the Norman case and the new evil demon problem have led to significant modifications to externalism. In our world clairvoyance is not a reliable belief-forming method. Similarly in the new evil demon problem justification tracks the actual facts. Since our perceptual beliefs meet the external condition they are justified. When we consider possible individuals with the same perceptual evidence that we have, we rightly consider their beliefs justified.

Granted that their beliefs do not meet the external condition in that world , but in our world such beliefs do meet the external condition. Alvin Goldman develops this externalist response to the Norman case. Goldman argues that justification is relative to actual intellectual virtues, where the virtues are understood in a reliabilist fashion.

For other instances of this relativization move see Sosa a and Bergmann The following is an examination of three prominent reasons for externalism—the argument from the truth connection, the argument from ordinary knowledge ascriptions, and the argument from the implausibility of radical skepticism. Also included are the main internalist responses. A very powerful argument for externalism is that epistemic justification is essentially connected to truth. Epistemic justification differs from prudential or moral justification. One is prudentially justified in believing that this is true.

How should we account for this difference between prudential and epistemic justification? The objective likelihood of a belief given a body of evidence is a matter of the strength of correlation in the actual world between the truth of the belief and the body of evidence. If one applies some liquid to a litmus paper and it turns red then the objective likelihood that the liquid is acidic is very high. But the strong correlation between red litmus paper and acidity is not reflectively accessible. Internalists argue that the problem of the truth connection is a problem for everyone. Epistemic justification is essentially connected to the truth in a way that distinguishes it from, say, prudential justification.

But it is exceedingly difficult to note exactly what this connection consists of. So to generate an argument against internalism from the truth connection one needs to do more than appeal to the intuition of a strong connection between justification and truth. The problem of the truth connection for internalism is an active area of research.

One of the most powerful motivations for externalism is that we correctly attribute knowledge to unsophisticated persons, children, and some animals. These individuals, though, lack internalist justification. Grandma knows that she has hands even though she can not rehearse an argument for that conclusion and can not even think of anything else to defend the claim that she does have hands. In each case it appears that the subject is justified but lacks any internally accessible reason for the belief. Reflection on these cases, and many others like them, supports the externalist central contention that internalism is too strong.

Persons can know without possessing internalistic justification. The main problem with appeal to cases like Grandma, Timmy, and Lassie is that the details of such cases are open to interpretation. In an attempt to strengthen the argument for externalism some externalists appeal to non-standard cases. One non-standard case is the chicken-sexer case. Chicken-sexers are individuals that possess the unique ability to reliably sort male from female chickens. As the case is described chicken-sexers do not know how they sort the chickens.

They report not being able to offer the criteria they use to sort the chickens. Nonetheless they are very good at sorting chickens and their beliefs that this is a male , this is a female, etc. Another non-standard case is the case of quiz-show knowledge. The case envisions a contestant, call her Sally, on a popular quiz show that gets all the answers right.

When a clue is offered Sally rings in with the correct answer. Moreover, Sally may believe that she does not know the answer. What should we say about this case? Sally is very reliable. Her answers are objectively likely to be true. We can fill out the case by stipulating her answers are caused in part by the relevant fact.

She learned the answer either by direct experience with the relevant fact—she was in Tiananmen Square during the famous protests of —or through a reliable informant. Yet Sally lacks any internal phenomenology usually associated with remembering an answer. The answers just seem to come out of the blue. Yet given her excellent track record it certainly seems right to say that Sally knows the answer. This is a problematic case for internalists because it appears that no relevant internal condition is present. The argument advanced by externalists above is a conjunction of two claims: i these individuals have knowledge and ii no internalist justification is present.

In the cases of Grandma, Timmy, and Lassie one response is to deny that these individuals have knowledge, but that strikes many as incredibly implausible and too concessive to skeptical worries. A much more plausible response is to argue that an internalist justification is present.


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In the case of Grandma, for instance, she has experiences and memories which attest that she had hands. Similar points can be made with respect to Timmy and Lassie. To the extent that our judgments that Timmy and Lassie have knowledge are resilient we can find appropriate experiences that indicate the truth of their beliefs.

The quiz-show case is more interesting. The options for the internalists seem limited. How plausible is this result? Sally is encouraged to answer and she goes with whatever pops in her head. Moreover, Feldman observes, the contestant seems to lack any stable belief forming mechanism. Since knowledge entails belief it appears then that Sally lacks knowledge because she lacks belief. Furthermore, as another option, since Sally may take herself not to know the answer she possesses a reason that undermines her knowledge see Feldman a for the role of higher-order knowledge to defeat object-knowledge.

The upshot is that the case of quiz show knowledge is indecisive against internalism: either Sally lacks the relevant belief or she possesses a reason that defeats her knowledge. Another main motivation for externalism is its alleged virtues for handling skepticism in at least some of its varieties.

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One powerful skeptical argument begins with the premise that we lack direct access to facts about the external world. The skeptic continues to argue that since we lack direct access to facts about the external world we lack non-inferential knowledge or justification for believing those facts. Here the skeptic argues that the evidence we possess for external world beliefs does not adequately favor commonsense over a skeptical thesis. Any appeal to experiential evidence will not decide the case against the skeptic and the skeptic is happy to enter the fray over whether commonsense beats skepticism with regard to the theoretical virtues, for example, coherence and simplicity.

Berkeley, for instance, argued that commonsense decidedly lost the contest against a kind of skeptical thesis Berkeley Three Dialogues between Hylas and Philonous. Internalists find this kind of argument very difficult to rebut. Internalists tend to focus on the final step and argue that even though experience does not imply that skepticism is false it nevertheless makes skepticism much less probable than commonsense. This response is intuitive but it brings with it a number of controversial commitments. The ensuing debate is too complex to summarize here.

The upshot though is that it is no easy task to maintain this intuitive response.

Consequently externalists think they have a distinct advantage over internalism. Externalists tend to think internalism lands in skepticism but that we have good reason to suspect skepticism is false. Externalists eagerly point out that their view can handle the skeptical challenge. In terms of an early version of externalism—D.

Externalists press this virtue against internalist views that are saddled with the claim that lack of direct access implies no non-inferential knowledge or justification.


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Assuming that the first and final steps of the skeptical argument are good a very controversial assumption , internalism would imply that we lack knowledge. Externalists thus see their analysis of knowledge as aligning with commonsense and against the skeptic that we possess lots of knowledge.

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