The Cost of Treating Knowledge as a Mental State

In A. Carter, E. Gordon & B. Jarvis (eds.), Knowledge First, Approaches to Epistemology and Mind. Oxford University Press. pp. 95-112 (2017)
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Abstract
My concern in this paper is with the claim that knowledge is a mental state – a claim that Williamson places front and centre in Knowledge and Its Limits. While I am not by any means convinced that the claim is false, I do think it carries certain costs that have not been widely appreciated. One source of resistance to this claim derives from internalism about the mental – the view, roughly speaking, that one’s mental states are determined by one’s internal physical state. In order to know that something is the case it is not, in general, enough for one’s internal physical state to be a certain way – the wider world must also be a certain way. If we accept that knowledge is a mental state, we must give up internalism. One might think that this is no cost, since much recent work in the philosophy of mind has, in any case, converged on the view that internalism is false. This thought, though, is too quick. As I will argue here, the claim that knowledge is a mental state would take us to a view much further from internalism than anything philosophers of mind have converged upon
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