Philosophical Studies

, Volume 158, Issue 3, pp 435–455 | Cite as

Evidential externalism



Consider the Evidence Question: When and under what conditions is proposition P evidence for some agent S? Silins (Philos Perspect 19:375–404, 2005) has recently offered a partial answer to the Evidence Question. In particular, Silins argues for Evidential Internalism (EI), which holds that necessarily, if A and B are internal twins, then A and B have the same evidence. In this paper I consider Silins’s argument, and offer two response on behalf of Evidential Externalism (EE), which is the denial of Evidential Internalism. The first response claims that the allegedly unattractive consequence for EE is not so unattractive. The second response takes the form of a tu quoque, demonstrating that a structurally similar argument can be constructed against EI. The two responses play off one another: objecting to the first puts pressure on one to accept the other. Taken together, the two responses have important ramifications for how we answer the Evidence Question, and how we think about evidence in general.


Evidence Internalism Externalism Silins 



I am grateful to Hilary Kornblith for very helpful conversation on this material. I would also like to thank an anonymous referee from this journal for helpful comments.


  1. Block, N. (2008). Consciousness and cognitive access. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, 108(Part 3), 289–317.Google Scholar
  2. Christensen, D. (1992). Confirmational holism and Bayesian epistemology. Philosophy of Science, 59, 540–557.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Chugh, D., & Bazerman, M. (2007). Bounded awareness: What you fail to see can hurt you. Mind and Society, 6, 1–18.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Feldman, R. (1988). Having evidence. In D. Austin (Ed.), Philosophical analysis (pp. 83–104). Dordrecht: Kluwer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Field, H. (1978). A note on Jeffrey conditionalization. Philosophy of Science, 45, 361–367.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Fitelson, B. (2001). Studies in Bayesian confirmation theory. Doctoral dissertation, University of Wisconsin, Madison.Google Scholar
  7. Garber, D. (1980). Field and Jeffrey conditionalization. Philosophy of Science, 47, 142–145.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Howson, C., & Urbach, P. (1993). Scientific reasoning: The Bayesian approach (2nd ed.). Peru, IL: Open Court.Google Scholar
  9. Jeffrey, R. (1983). The logic of decision (2nd ed.). Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  10. Joyce, J. (2004). Williamson on evidence and knowledge. Philosophical Books, 45, 296–305.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Kennedy, M. (2010). Naive realism and experiential evidence. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, 90, 77–109.Google Scholar
  12. Kornblith, H. (2009). A reliabilist solution to the problem of promiscuous bootstrapping. Analysis, 69, 263–267.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Maher, P. (1996). Subjective and objective confirmation. Philosophy of Science, 63, 149–174.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Milne, P. (2003). Bayesianism vs. scientific realism. Analysis, 63, 281–288.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Neta, R. (2008). What evidence do you have? British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, 59, 89–119.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Silins, N. (2005). Deception and evidence. Philosophical Perspectives, 19, 375–404.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Simons, D. J. (2000). Current approaches to change blindness. Visual Cognition, 7, 1–15.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Simons, D. J., & Chabris, C. F. (1999). Gorillas in our midst: Sustained inattentional blindness for dynamic events. Perception, 28, 1059–1074.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Simons, D. J., Chabris, C. F., Schnur, T., & Levin, D. T. (2002). Evidence for preserved representations in change blindness. Consciousness and Cognition, 11, 78–97.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Vogel, J. (2000). Reliabilism leveled. The Journal of Philosophy, 97, 602–623.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Weisberg, J. (2009). Commutativity or holism: A dilemma for conditionalizers. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, 60, 793–812.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Williamson, T. (2000). Knowledge and its limits. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.DePauw UniversityGreencastleUSA

Personalised recommendations