Four definitions of ‘internalism’, and an argument

What evidential/motivational support relations do the following four claims (which all seem to be ‘internalist’ claims, in one sense or another) bear to one another?

1. Whether a person is justified in her doxastic attitude towards p (or whether a certain attitude towards p is justified for her) supervenes only on factors that are “internal to her perspective,” in some to-be-specified sense. (See John Greco’s essay in the book called Contemporary debates in Epistemology, Blackwell, 2005.)

2. The concept of justification is conceptually independent of the concept of truth; ‘S is justified in her doxastic attitude towards p’ (or ‘attitude D is justified for S’) can be defined without using the concept of truth. (See Chisholm’s definition of ‘internalism’ in Theory of Knowledge, which I think appears in all editions, certainly in the third.)

3. S is justified in her doxastic attitude towards p (or D is justified for her) only if S has evidence, reasons, or arguments that support the legitimacy of her adopting that doxastic attitude towards p. (See Ernest Sosa’s paper called “Philosophical Scepticism and Epistemic Circularity,” in a 1994 Aristotelian Society Supplement.)

4. S is justified in her doxastic attitude towards p only if S is aware (i.e. believes) that the doxastic attitude she takes towards p is justified. (Mutatis mutandis for a necessary condition on D being justified, for her.)

I’m most interested in whether (4) is entailed or supported by any of (1) – (3). It seems that (1) entails (2), since whether a proposition is true is not a factor that is “internal to my perspective,” and it seems like (1) and (3) fit nicely together, since “evidence, reasons, or arguments” are things that are “internal to my perspective,” although I don’t think (1) entails (3), and (3) does not entail (1), since it only states a necessary condition on someone’s belief being justified. For the same reason (4) doesn’t entail (1).

Is this a way of going from (1) to (4)?

a. Suppose that factors “internal to my perspective” are factors that I am aware of, i.e. factors that I believe obtain, and which actually obtain.
b. Trivially, that my belief that p is justified is a factor upon which the fact that my belief that p is justified supervenes; whether my belief is justified depends (trivially) on whether it is justified.
c. From (1) and (b), it follows that I am justifed in my belief that p only if the fact that my belief that p is justified is internal to my perspective.
d. It is consequence of (a) that: the fact that my belief that p is justified is internal to my perspective only if I am aware that my belief that p is justified.
e. From (c) and (d), it follows that I am justifed in my belief that p only if I am aware that my belief that p is justified.


Comments

Four definitions of ‘internalism’, and an argument — 4 Comments

  1. Hazlett,
    I’m worried that very few folks (internalist or otherwise) would think that (a) is plausible. The justificatory status of my belief that there is a red object in front of me might supervene on my being appeared to redly, but it seems that I need not form the belief that I am appeared to redly in order for my belief that there is a red object in front of me to be justified. This would be overintellectualization.

    In other words, the “to-be specified” sense of “internal to my perspective” mentioned in (1) does not seem to me to be plausibly interpreted as it is in (a), since very few people would accept (a). Or am I missing something?

  2. Alan,

    Would you say a bit more about the relation between (1) and (2). You might think that justification is modally independent from truth in the sense that it’s possible to have false, justified beliefs without thinking that it’s possible to analyze justification without appeal to the concept of truth. If we switch from truth to knowledge, Alexander Bird has a forthcoming PPR piece in which we argues that we should analyze the concept of justified belief as something like a belief that constitutes knowledge or fails to do so for reasons that are external to the subject’s perspective. He seems to think that there can be justified beliefs that lack some condition C even if that condition C must figure in the analysis of justified belief. [In fact, if we switch back from knowledge to truth, it seems that on his theory there can be false, justified beliefs but we cannot analyze the concept of justified belief without appeal to the concept of truth in the sense that knowledge seems to play the role that it does in the analysis of justified belief because of knowledge’s relation to truth].

  3. I’m going to suspend judgment about what (2) was supposed to mean until I get back to Texas, because I was reciting that from memory of Chisholm, and I’m not really sure what he meant, and I just wanted to mean what he meant.

    If there are factors internal to my perspective that justify my beliefs, of which I am not aware, then (a) is false. I think some people would go for a variation on (a):

    (a*) Factors “internal to my perspective” are factors that I am aware of (i.e. justifiably and correctly believe obtain), or could become aware of on reflection.

    This would yield a weaker version of (4):

    (4*) S is justified in her doxastic attitude towards p only if S is aware (i.e. believes) that the doxastic attitude she takes towards p is justified, or could become so aware on reflection.

    I’m inclined to agree that many defenders of (1) would not go to (a). But there might be this in favor of (a), for defenders of (1): what would it be for the fact that I am justified in my belief that p to be “internal to my perspective,” except for me to believe (know?) that I am justified in my belief that p? In other words, non-doxastic awareness of X seems a fine way for X to be “internal to my perspective” when X is an experiential state. But when X is something like the fact that I am justified in my belief that p, what could the “internality” of X amount to, other than nthe accessibility of X to my awareness, and in this case, what could awareness of X amount to, other than my belief that X exists?

    I secretly hope that the (a)-(d) argument fails, because I think (4) is crazy, and I never saw the appeal. I’m hoping that it can be motivated by something more appealing – like (1), which I don’t endorse, but at least see the appeal of – so that I can make sense of why people endorse it.

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