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Boghossian’s Inference Argument against Content Externalism Reversed

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  • The main ideas in this work have been presented at several meetings: in a session of the Logos Seminar (Universidad de Barcelona, February 2010); in the workshop Anti-individualismo y conocimiento del significado (Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, May 2010), and in the II Workshop on Philosophy and Cognitive Science (Universidad de Buenos Aires, November 2010). They also appeared in a Spanish language article: Pérez Otero (2010). The debate in a Logos Reading Group about externalism and self-knowledge that I coordinated during the course 2007–08 has been fruitful too. I am indebted to the respective audiences and to some other people who have read previous versions of this article and have made very helpful suggestions. Thanks particularly to Paulo Faria, Manuel García-Carpintero, Ekain Garmendia, Jesús Vega, Víctor M. Verdejo-Aparicio, Ignacio Vicario and Agustín Vicente. Financial Support: Program CONSOLIDER-INGENIO 2010, “Perspectival Thoughts and Facts” (CSD2009-00056), MICINN (Spanish Government). Project “Knowledge, Reference and Realism” (FFI2011-29560-C02-01), MICINN (Spanish Government). Consolidated and Funded Research Group LOGOS (2009 SGR 1077), AGAUR (Catalan Government).

Abstract

I deal here with one of Boghossian’s arguments against content externalism, related to our inferential rationality (to use his term). According to his reasoning, the apriority of our logical abilities is inconsistent with certain externalist assumptions. Nevertheless, the problem constitutes an important challenge for any theory of content, not just for externalism. Furthermore, when we examine what internalists may propose to solve the problem, we see that externalists have at their disposal a more promising repertoire of possible replies than internalists. In that sense, insofar as Boghossian’s scenario is relevant to the debate externalism/internalism, it can be seen (against Boghossian’s original intention) as providing additional evidence for content externalism.

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