forum 8: week of 5 March: tests and evidence

Fragment of a discussion from Course talk:Phil440A
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My issue with Staley and Cobb's paper is that in attempting to apply internalism and externalism to scientific methodology they change the definitions (internalism* and externalism*) to the point that they are almost unrecognisable from their original forms.

I am mostly concerned with internalism*. I took internalism in standard epistemology to mean that justification is based on internal evidence (i.e. evidence must be directly available to and recognized by the subject). Staley and Cobb frame internalism* around an epistemic community or epistemic situation (which could contain many subjects) which, to me, contradicts the whole idea of internalism. Their internalism* also entails security and being able to defend an assertion based on "internal" evidence and collaboration within a community. This seems to go against the internalist idea. They assume that everyone within a "relevant epistemic community" holds the exact same evidence and will operate in identical ways to defend their claims.

I do see a relationship between what I took externalism to be in conventional epistemology (that justification is based on if the evidence is objectively true and doesn't need to be directly accessible for an epistemic subject) and what Staley and Cobb call externalism* in that knowledge or assertions of experimental conclusions are judged based on "truth-conduciveness". I just don't see the necessity of making the distinction when all that changed was "knowledge claim" to the "the assertion of an experimental conclusion."

The argument that justification in science is both internalist and externalism is problematic to me because of my understanding of internalism and externalism. To me they are mutually exclusive options and instead of changing the definitions entirely, Staley and Cobb might as well have used their own terms to describe their notions of internalism* and externalism*.

20:44, 9 March 2012