Internalism and externalism in epistemic justification

Date of Award




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

First Committee Member

Harvey Siegel, Committee Chair


A survey was made of the characterizations of 'internalism' and 'externalism' extant in the literature concerning epistemic justification. It was determined that the concept of access is central to the internalism/externalism dispute. Careful examinations were made of three key positions held with respect to accessibility constraints on justification, those of Alvin Goldman, William P. Alston, and Laurence BonJour. It was determined that rejection of accessibility constraints on justification (Goldman) faces grave difficulties which have not been satisfactorily addressed by proponents of that position. An accessibility constraint on evidence alone (Alston) was found to be insufficient for an adequate theory of justification. A minimalist access constraint on the adequacy of evidence was determined to be necessary for an adequate theory of justification. Requirements of access to a metajustificatory argument and to the global coherence of one's belief system (BonJour) were determined to be unnecessary for an adequate theory of justification.



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