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Thread: Internalism vs. Externalism

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    tWebber
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    Internalism vs. Externalism

    There is an epistemological issue that has to do with how our beliefs are justified. The internalism/externalism issue has to do with whether the internal state of a person is what justifies that person's beliefs. There are different kinds of internalism and externalism. One form of internalism holds that one needs to be aware of the reasons why he believes in X in order to be justified in believing in X. The corresponding form of externalism denies this. It says that one does not need to know the reasons why he believes something in order to be justified in believing it. A second form of internalism holds that what justifies any belief is some mental state of the person holding that belief. The corresponding form of externalism holds that something other than a person's mental state is what justifies a belief. A third form of internalism holds that the justification of a person's beliefs has to do with whether that person is fulfilling his or her intellectual duties or responsibilities. The corresponding form of externalism holds that the justification of one's beliefs would be analyzed in terms other than one's duties or responsibilities.

    The viewpoint called "Reformed Epistemology" is an example of externalism. This viewpoint teaches that if a person's belief is formed by properly functioning cognitive faculties whose design plan is aimed at truth when that person is in circumstances appropriate to the proper functioning of those faculties, then that person's belief is warranted. Alvin Plantinga advocates this viewpoint and uses it to justify his belief in God.

    Do you agree with internalism or externalism? I favor internalism because 1 Peter 3:15 teaches that believers must be prepared to give an answer when someone asks you about the hope that you have. The context of this verse has to do with suffering for doing good. Believers put their hope in Christ and other people might ask you about why you put your hope in Christ.

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    tWebber seer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hornet View Post
    There is an epistemological issue that has to do with how our beliefs are justified. The internalism/externalism issue has to do with whether the internal state of a person is what justifies that person's beliefs. There are different kinds of internalism and externalism. One form of internalism holds that one needs to be aware of the reasons why he believes in X in order to be justified in believing in X. The corresponding form of externalism denies this. It says that one does not need to know the reasons why he believes something in order to be justified in believing it. A second form of internalism holds that what justifies any belief is some mental state of the person holding that belief. The corresponding form of externalism holds that something other than a person's mental state is what justifies a belief. A third form of internalism holds that the justification of a person's beliefs has to do with whether that person is fulfilling his or her intellectual duties or responsibilities. The corresponding form of externalism holds that the justification of one's beliefs would be analyzed in terms other than one's duties or responsibilities.

    The viewpoint called "Reformed Epistemology" is an example of externalism. This viewpoint teaches that if a person's belief is formed by properly functioning cognitive faculties whose design plan is aimed at truth when that person is in circumstances appropriate to the proper functioning of those faculties, then that person's belief is warranted. Alvin Plantinga advocates this viewpoint and uses it to justify his belief in God.

    Do you agree with internalism or externalism? I favor internalism because 1 Peter 3:15 teaches that believers must be prepared to give an answer when someone asks you about the hope that you have. The context of this verse has to do with suffering for doing good. Believers put their hope in Christ and other people might ask you about why you put your hope in Christ.
    I'm going to be honest Hornet, I never found these distinctions meaningful. How we justify things or what constitutes justification is all rather subjective. I agree with Plantinga however, if your mental abilities are working correctly then belief in God warranted, if there are no defeaters. Yet even Plantinga would use arguments in favor of the Christian faith or theism in general.

    https://www.calvin.edu/academic/phil..._arguments.pdf

    But none of this gets us to deductive reasoning, so there can be no logical certainty.
    Atheism is the cult of death, the death of hope. The universe is doomed, you are doomed, the only thing that remains is to await your execution...

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    tWebber
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    Quote Originally Posted by seer View Post
    I'm going to be honest Hornet, I never found these distinctions meaningful. How we justify things or what constitutes justification is all rather subjective. I agree with Plantinga however, if your mental abilities are working correctly then belief in God warranted, if there are no defeaters. Yet even Plantinga would use arguments in favor of the Christian faith or theism in general.

    https://www.calvin.edu/academic/phil..._arguments.pdf

    But none of this gets us to deductive reasoning, so there can be no logical certainty.
    According to one form of externalism, if your beliefs are formed by a reliable process, then you are justified in having that belief, even if you are not aware of any reason for holding that belief. This seems to be different than the view that says that one must be aware of the reasons why he holds a belief in order for his belief to be justified.

    Thank you for the link. Those are interesting arguments.

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    tWebber mattbballman31's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hornet View Post
    According to one form of externalism, if your beliefs are formed by a reliable process, then you are justified in having that belief, even if you are not aware of any reason for holding that belief. This seems to be different than the view that says that one must be aware of the reasons why he holds a belief in order for his belief to be justified.
    Process reliabilism isn't a good option, though. The case of the Brain Lesion has put that to rest. This lesion creates false and irrational beliefs (e.g. Iím superman or Iím a quantum particle). Another belief the lesion itself produces that is crazy but true is: that I have a lesion that produces all these false and irrational beliefs. Am I justified in believing I have a brain lesion? Itís a reliably true belief. But itís not enough for justification. This is a counterexample that process reliabilism is sufficient for justification. Plantinga thinks we need proper function.

    The Swampman Objection spells trouble for it as well.
    Many and painful are the researches sometimes necessary to be made, for settling points of [this] kind. Pertness and ignorance may ask a question in three lines, which it will cost learning and ingenuity thirty pages to answer. When this is done, the same question shall be triumphantly asked again the next year, as if nothing had ever been written upon the subject.
    George Horne

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