This article presents a novel challenge to epistemic internalism. The challenge rests on a set of cases which feature subjects forming beliefs under conditions of “bad ideology”—that is, conditions in which pervasively false beliefs have the function of sustaining, and are sustained by, systems of social oppression. In such cases, the article suggests, the externalistic view that justification is in part a matter of worldly relations, rather than the internalistic view that justification is solely a matter of how things stand from the agent’s individual perspective, becomes the more intuitively attractive theory. But these “bad ideology” cases do not merely yield intuitive verdicts that favor externalism over internalism. These cases are, moreover, analogous to precisely those canonical cases widely taken to be counterexamples to externalism: cases featuring brains-in-vats, clairvoyants, and dogmatists. That is, such “bad ideology” cases are, in all relevant respects, just like cases that are thought to count against externalism—except that they intuitively favor externalism. This, the author argues, is a serious worry for internalism. What is more, it bears on the debate over whether externalism is a genuinely “normative” epistemology.
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Amia Srinivasan; Radical Externalism. The Philosophical Review 1 July 2020; 129 (3): 395–431. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00318108-8311261
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