North West Branch Virtual Seminar

Internalism, Externalism, and Epistemically Autonomous Belief’
J Adam Carter (Glasgow)



For the Zoom link or for further inquiries:  [email protected]

In his book Autonomous Knowledge (forthcoming, OUP), Carter argues that cases of radical enhancement should force us to recognise a kind of ‘epistemic autonomy’ condition on knowledge. In this talk, Carter gives an account from the second chapter of his book of what such a condition would look like. The investigation concerns whether or not the epistemic autonomy of a belief is determined entirely by the subject’s present mental structure. ‘Internalists’ about epistemically autonomous belief say ‘yes’, and externalists say ‘no.’ Internalism about epistemically autonomous belief turns out to be problematic for reasons entirely independent from those we might have for rejecting internalist approaches to epistemically justified belief. What is shown to fare much better is a kind of ‘history-sensitive’ externalist approach to epistemically autonomous belief. Drawing on externalist thinking about attitudinal autonomy and on virtue epistemology, Carter defends a version of the history-sensitive’ externalist approach on which a belief lacks the kind of epistemic autonomy that’s needed for propositional knowledge if the subject comes to possess the belief in a way that (put simply) bypasses or preempts the subject’s cognitive abilities and is such that the subject lacks easy opportunities to competently shed that belief.