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A defense of deontological externalism

David Dean Reiter, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


The dissertation develops a deontological externalism, on which S is epistemically justified in believing that p just in case it is false that S epistemically ought not to believe that p. Chapter 1 considers and rejects a proposal that epistemology ought to abandon the traditional project of analyzing epistemic justification. Chapter 2 provides testimonial support for the deontological conception, and provides argumentation against the strongest competing conception, which is the truth-conducive conception. Chapter 3 treats the subjects of internalism and externalism. Although the deontic account has traditionally been cast as an internalist view, I argue that the deontic account is best understood as an externalist view of epistemic justification. I also explain how the deontic account accommodates the standard counterexamples to externalism. The next two chapters deal with objections. Chapter 4 treats the objection that we should reject the deontic account ought because it entails the implausible doctrine of doxastic voluntarism (i.e., the doctrine that we have direct control over our beliefs). Chapter 5 considers three versions of the general objection that we should reject the deontic account because it does not provide a connection between epistemic justification and truth. Chapter 6 and 7 place epistemic justification within a larger epistemological context. Chapter 6 critically examines some arguments for thinking that epistemic justification is a component of knowledge, and it briefly considers whether any of these arguments support objections against deontic externalism. Chapter 7 develops the "integration problem" in epistemology. This is the problem of how we are to account for a multiplicity of properties that are all desirable or significant from the epistemic point of view. Finally, a concluding section briefly summarizes the case for deontic externalism.

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Recommended Citation

Reiter, David Dean, "A defense of deontological externalism" (1993). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI9331426.