, Volume 76, Issue 1, pp 59–72 | Cite as

Internalism and Externalism in Meliorative Epistemology

Original article


This paper addresses the meta-epistemological dispute over the basis of epistemic evaluation from the standpoint of meliorative epistemology. Meliorative epistemology aims at guiding our epistemic practice to better results, and it comprises two levels of epistemic evaluation. At the social level (meliorative social epistemology) appropriate experts conduct evaluation for the community, so that epistemic evaluation is externalist since each epistemic subject in the community need not have access to the basis of the experts’ evaluation. While at the personal level (meliorative personal epistemology) epistemic evaluation is internalist since each member of the community must evaluate the reliability of the (apparent) experts from the first-person perspective. I argue that evaluation at the social level should be the primary focus of meliorative epistemology since meliorative personal epistemology does not provide informative epistemic norms. It is then pointed out that epistemic evaluation at the social level can be considered internalist in the extended sense (social internalism) in that every component of the evaluation needs to be recognized by some members of the community at some points. As a result, some familiar problems of internalist epistemology, such as regress and circularity of epistemic support, carry over to meliorative social epistemology.


Epistemic Status Epistemic Justification Epistemic Evaluation Epistemic Practice Social Epistemology 



An early version of this paper was presented at the Pacific Division Meeting of the American Philosophical Association in San Francisco in April 2007. I would like to thank the commentators Baron Reed and James Beebe, and other participants of the session for valuable comments. I would also like to thank Harold Brown, Chang-Seong Hong, Glenn Rawson and anonymous referees of Erkenntnis for valuable comments on early versions of the paper.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyRhode Island CollegeProvidenceUSA

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