Acta Analytica

, Volume 24, Issue 3, pp 173–183

On the Compatibility of Epistemic Internalism and Content Externalism


DOI: 10.1007/s12136-009-0054-4

Cite this article as:
Madison, B.J.C. Acta Anal (2009) 24: 173. doi:10.1007/s12136-009-0054-4


In this paper I consider a recent argument of Timothy Williamson’s that epistemic internalism and content externalism are indeed incompatible, and since he takes content externalism to be above reproach, so much the worse for epistemic internalism. However, I argue that epistemic internalism, properly understood, remains substantially unaffected no matter which view of content turns out to be correct. What is key to the New Evil Genius thought experiment is that, given everything of which the inhabitants are consciously aware, the two worlds are subjectively indistinguishable for them, which is what matters on internalist accounts of epistemic justification. I argue that even if a standard moral of the New Evil Genius intuition is untenable due to considerations arising from content externalism, the case can be understood as supporting epistemic internalism in a way that is wholly compatible with content externalism. In short, epistemic internalism is committed to sameness of justificatory status between subjectively indistinguishable counterparts, not sameness of content of their justifiers.


Epistemology Philosophy of mind Epistemic internalism/externalism Content internalism/externalism Compatibility thereof 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Philosophy and TheologyThe University of Notre Dame AustraliaFremantleWestern Australia

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