Good and Bad Reasons to Reject Externalism


  • Alexandra Cunningham St. Thomas University


epistemology, externalism, internalism, justification, reliabilism, belief, Alvin Goldman


The debate between internalism and externalism in epistemology concerns one of the traditional conditions for knowledge: justification. Specifically, proponents of these theories seek to understand precisely what confers justification on a belief. Theories of justification are typically characterized as internalist if they hold that all justifiers are cognitively accessible to a person. Externalism represents the rejection of this thesis; defenders of this theory deny that the justifiers must be internal to a believerâs perspective. This paper presents an objection to the externalist account. Externalism, broadly construed, allows a person to be justified when they hold beliefs for the wrong reasons, and this indicates a significant problem with the theory. This paper argues that this kind of objection will not work for at least one significant variation of the externalist thesis: reliabilism. Finally, the idea that this theory must still account for a âgood reasonsâ evaluation of justification, an internalist consideration, is proposed and promoted.