Active Externalism and Epistemic Internalism

Erkenntnis 80 (4):753-772 (2015)
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Internalist approaches to epistemic justification are, though controversial, considered a live option in contemporary epistemology. Accordingly, if ‘active’ externalist approaches in the philosophy of mind—e.g. the extended cognition and extended mind theses—are _in principle_ incompatible with internalist approaches to justification in epistemology, then this will be an epistemological strike against, at least the _prima facie_ appeal of, active externalism. It is shown here however that, contrary to pretheoretical intuitions, neither the extended cognition _nor_ the extended mind theses are in principle incompatible with two prominent versions of epistemic internalism—viz., accessibilism and mentalism. In fact, one possible diagnosis is that pretheoretical intuitions regarding the incompatibility of active externalism with epistemic internalism are symptomatic of a tacit yet incorrect identification of epistemic internalism with epistemic individualism. Thus, active externalism is not in principle incompatible with epistemic internalism per se and does not significantly restrict one’s options in epistemology
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