Inferential Internalism and the Causal Status Effect

Logos and Episteme 11 (4):429-445 (2020)
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Abstract

To justify inductive inference and vanquish classical skepticisms about human memory, external world realism, etc., Richard Fumerton proposes his “inferential internalism,” an epistemology whereby humans ‘see’ by Russellian acquaintance Keynesian probable relations (PRs) between propositions. PRs are a priori necessary relations of logical probability, akin to but not reducible to logical entailments, such that perceiving a PR between one’s evidence E and proposition P of unknown truth value justifies rational belief in P to an objective degree. A recent critic of inferential internalism is Alan Rhoda, who questions its psychological plausibility. Rhoda argues that in order to see necessary relations between propositions E and P, one would need acquaintance with too many propositions at once, since our evidence E is often complex. In this paper, I criticize Rhoda’s implausibility objection as too quick. Referencing the causal status effect (CSE) from psychology, I argue that some of the complex features of evidence E contribute to our type-categorizing it as E-type, and thus we do not need to ‘see’ all of the complex features when we see the PR between E and P. My argument leaves unchanged Fumerton’s justificatory role for the PR, but enhances its psychological plausibility.

Author's Profile

Nicholas Danne
University of South Carolina

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