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externalism/internalism

laurence bonjour


Subject Philosophy » Epistemology

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631192589.1993.x


Extract

The most generally accepted account of this distinction is that a theory of justification is internalist if and only if it requires that all of the factors needed for a belief to be epistemically justified for a given person be cognitively accessible to that person, internal to his cognitive perspective; and externalist , if it allows that at least some of the justifying factors need not be thus accessible, so that they can be external to the believer's cognitive perspective, beyond his ken. However, epistemologists often use the distinction between internalist and externalist theories of epistemic justification without offering any very explicit explication. The externalism/internalism distinction has been mainly applied (as above) to theories of epistemic justification. It has also been applied in a closely related way to accounts of knowledge and in a rather different way to accounts of belief and thought content. We will consider each of these applications, devoting most of our attention to the first. The internalist requirement of cognitive accessibility can be interpreted in at least two ways: a strong version of internalism would require that the believer actually be aware of the justifying factors in order to be justified; while a weaker version would require only that he be capable of becoming aware of them by focusing his attention appropriately, but without the ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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