Justification Internalism & Content Externalism: A Defense of Compatibility




Culak, Christian William

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On the discourse pertaining to what it means to have a belief and what it means to be justified in a belief, there are two views that seem to produce an incompatibility: content externalism and justification internalism. Content externalism states that the content of an agent's belief is at least in-part wide, or external to the agent. Justification internalism, on the other hand, does not require anything external to the agent in order to be justified in a belief. When the two views are put together, a question arises: Can a proposition involving a wide content concept be internally justified? Intuitively, justification about a belief consisting of wide content concepts seems to require inference to something external. If so, this would render an incompatibility.

However, when we consider the strongest arguments against this compatibility by philosophers such as Paul Boghossian, Hamid Vahid, Duncan Pritchard, and Jesper Kallestrup, there is something problematic with each argument. Though, perhaps a compatibility cannot be shown. But at the very least, compatibility can be defended if there is good reason to reject assumptions and reasons that each philosopher's respective arguments rely on; and I think there is. If so, then it may be possible to internally justify a wide content concept belief.


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compatibility, content, externalism, internalism, justification, self-knowledge