Scientific Evidence and the Internalism-Externalism Debate

Acta Analytica:1-21 (forthcoming)
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Considerations of scientific evidence are often thought to provide externalism with the dialectical upper hand in the internalism–externalism debate. How so? A couple of reasons are forthcoming in the literature. (1) Williamson (2000) argues that the E = K thesis (in contrast to internalism) provides the best explanation for the fact that scientists appear to argue from premises about true propositions (or facts) that are common knowledge among the members of the scientific community. (2) Kelly (Philosophy Compass, 3 (5), 933–955, 2008; 2016) argues that only externalism is suited to account for the public character of scientific evidence. In this article, I respond to Williamson and Kelly’s arguments. First, I show that the E = K thesis isn’t supported by the way in which we talk about scientific evidence, and that it is unable to account for facts about what has been regarded as scientific evidence and as justified scientific belief in the history of science. Second, I argue that there are internalist views that can account for the publicity of scientific evidence, and that those views indeed do better in that regard than the (externalist) view proposed by Kelly. The upshot is that considerations of scientific evidence do not favor externalism over internalism.

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Jonathan Egeland
University of Agder


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