, Volume 80, Issue 4, pp 753–772 | Cite as

Active Externalism and Epistemic Internalism

  • J. Adam CarterEmail author
  • S. Orestis Palermos
Original Article


Internalist approaches to epistemic justification are, though controversial, considered a live option in contemporary epistemology. Accordingly, if ‘active’ externalist approaches in the philosophy of mind—e.g. the extended cognition and extended mind theses—are in principle incompatible with internalist approaches to justification in epistemology, then this will be an epistemological strike against, at least the prima facie appeal of, active externalism. It is shown here however that, contrary to pretheoretical intuitions, neither the extended cognition nor the extended mind theses are in principle incompatible with two prominent versions of epistemic internalism—viz., accessibilism and mentalism. In fact, one possible diagnosis is that pretheoretical intuitions regarding the incompatibility of active externalism with epistemic internalism are symptomatic of a tacit yet incorrect identification of epistemic internalism with epistemic individualism. Thus, active externalism is not in principle incompatible with epistemic internalism per se and does not (despite initial appearances to the contrary) significantly restrict one’s options in epistemology.


Active Externalism Epistemic Justification Extended Mind Propositional Justification Biological Memory 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The authors would like to thank Emma C. Gordon, Jesper Kallestrup and Duncan Pritchard for helpful discussion. Thanks also to two anonymous referees at Erkenntnis who offered a number of very helpful suggestions. This article was written as part of the AHRC-funded ‘Extended Knowledge’ (#AH/J011908/1) research project that is hosted by the University of Edinburgh’s Eidyn research centre.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Philosophy, Psychology and Language SciencesUniversity of EdinburghEdinburghScotland, UK

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