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Chisholm’s & Goldman’s Internalism and Externalism

Chisholm’s views on the alternatives to internalism

In his view, Chisholm seems appears to support the externalism view that “justification of knowledge” depends on a number of factors that are “external to a person”. This argument means that the actions of a person cannot be justified only by determining the factors that are internal to that person. By invoking the term “alternatives to externalism”, Chisholm wants to argue that internalism is not a philosophy “by itself”, but an alternative to externalism. He states that those who believe in internalism fail to express the truth. He also seems to believe that internalists argue based on some considerations that “do not consider” the external factors that affect the justification of knowledge.

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I think the best way to describe Chisholm’s view is to use an example of a man and his belief that there is a sheep in his compound. In this case, a person believes that there is a white sheep in his compound because he can see a white sheep from a distance. Nevertheless, the real animal he sees is a white dog. Despite this, unknown to the same person, a white sheep is lying on another part of the compound. To the person, the fact that there is a white sheep in the compound is an “internal justification”. He is right that there is such an animal based on the evidence that a sheep is within the compound. However, he only sees a dog and not the sheep, which means that he is wrong because his external factors have misled him to believe that the white dog is a sheep.

Chisholm’s view is that internalist philosophers would say that the man is justified to claim that there is a white sheep in his compound based on what he sees. However, this is not a strong basis for making the argument because the dog can move closer to the man, after which he will realize that there is no sheep in the compound. This indicates that the internalist way of justification is wrong or depends on considerations that are not externalist.

Goldman’s position on justified beliefs in terms of ex post justification

I think by using the ex post justification, Goldman is not an internalist philosopher because his theory of reliabilism seems to defend externalism. However, it is worth noting that his argument of ex post justification also appeals to internalists because he seems to accept some weak iterative internalism.

In his argument “what is justified belief?” Goldman provides an alternative to the internalist epistemology based on a Cartesian background, where he brings the philosophy of epistemology in consonance with science. He seems to be interested in providing an alternative theory that in order to bring both externalism and internalism to a point of agreement on some issues. Specifically, he wants to achieve this by showing that any justification requires a reliable process. Thus, I think he is neither an externalist nor an internalist.

Compromise position between internalism and externalism

It is possible to reach a point of compromise based on the internalism versus externalism debate. In essence, the basic point of disagreement between the two sides involves the argument “whether explanation can be given by citing the facts that are internal to a person or the influence of some external factors”. In this case, we need to consider all the evidences from years of research in science and other fields. In particular, the disagreement can be solved by basing a new position on the human factors surrounding the debate.

These factors include human motivation, beliefs and the factors that determine them. With evidence from science, it is correct to state that the brain and the effects of the genetic makeup and biochemical factors inside the person (internal factors) control human thinking. On the other hand, it is also true that a person’s decision and thinking are under the control of the environment because he must respond to the external stimuli. Therefore, our thinking, beliefs and justifications are under the control of both internal and external factors. In this way, a compromising position is achieved.

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StudyCorgi. (2020, December 23). Chisholm’s & Goldman’s Internalism and Externalism.

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