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Synthese

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The ‘Conditional Position Problem’ for epistemic externalism

  • Miguel Ángel Fernández Vargas
S.I.: The Epistemology of Ernest Sosa
  • 25 Downloads

Abstract

In this paper, I develop a problem I call the “Conditional Position Problem” that arises for Ernest Sosa’s externalist epistemology. The problem is that, due to a phenomenon of epistemic circularity, one is unable to attain the reflective knowledge that one is justified in believing that perception is reliable, and is confined to the merely conditional position that one is so justified if perception is reliable. The problem is similar but different from a problem that Barry Stroud has tried to formulate. However, because of space limitations I cannot explain in detail what makes the two problems different. The structure of the paper is as follows: first, I explain the structural features of Sosa’s epistemology that allow the problem to arise; I also describe the normative task that is thwarted by the Conditional Position Problem; then I expound the problem itself. I proceed to examine one response that Sosa can give based on a simple inferential manoeuvre and explain why that response fails; then I examine another response he can give based on a complex form of self-support, and explain why this response also fails. I conclude explaining why the problem I present is specifically a problem for externalism. In an appendix, I very briefly describe what I take to be the main reason that justifies my claim that Stroud's problem is not the same as the problem I develop.

Keywords

Ernest Sosa’s epistemology Epistemic externalism Reflective knowledge Reliability of perception Conditional Position Problem 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Instituto de Investigaciones FilosóficasUNAMCoyoacánMexico

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