Philosophical Studies

, Volume 172, Issue 8, pp 2153–2170 | Cite as

Epistemic internalism and perceptual content: how a fear of demons leads to an error theory of perception

  • Robert J. Howell


Despite the fact that many of our beliefs are justified by perceptual experience, there is relatively little exploration of the connections between epistemic justification and perceptual content. This is unfortunate since it seems likely that some views of justification will require particular views of content, and the package of the two might be quite a bit less attractive than either view considered alone. I will argue that this is the case for epistemic internalism. In particular, epistemic internalism requires a view of perceptual content that results in an error theory of perception. This, in turn, hobbles the internalist’s account of perceptual justification. While there are various stages along the way at which one can resist the argument, each one will involve significant commitments that highlight heretofore unacknowledged connections between justification and content. Even if the internalist is willing to make these moves and resist the argument, the argument reveals a novel way for the epistemic externalist to resist one of internalism’s main arguments.


Epistemology Internalism New Evil Demon argument Phenomenal content Perception Reliabilism 



Thanks to my colleagues at SMU and my commentators and audience at the 2012 Pacific Division Meeting of the APA. In particular I’d like to thank Eric Barnes, Philippe Chuard, Eli Chudnoff, Kevan Edwards, Doug Ehring, Justin Fisher, Terrence Horgan, Matt Lockard, Jack Lyons, Nico Orlandi, and Brad Thompson.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Southern Methodist UniversityDallasUSA

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