Acta Analytica

, Volume 26, Issue 3, pp 257-272

First online:

Reliabilism and Brains in Vats

  • Jon AltschulAffiliated withDepartment of Philosophy, Loyola University-New Orleans Email author 

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According to epistemic internalism, the only facts that determine the justificational status of a belief are facts about the subject’s own mental states, like beliefs and experiences. Externalists instead hold that certain external facts, such as facts about the world or the reliability of a belief-producing mechanism, affect a belief’s justificational status. Some internalists argue that considerations about evil demon victims and brains in vats provide excellent reason to reject externalism: because these subjects are placed in epistemically unfavorable settings, externalism seems unable to account for the strong intuition that these subjects’ beliefs are nonetheless justified. I think these considerations do not at all help the internalist cause. I argue that by appealing to the anti-individualistic nature of perception, it can be shown that skeptical scenarios provide no reason to prefer internalism to externalism.


Reliabilism Justification New evil demon problem Internalism Externalism Perceptual anti-individualism