Philosophy Lexicon of Arguments

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Externalism, philosophy: the thesis that the meanings of the words partially depend on our environment; a) by the influence of the language community (use theory), b) the possibility or impossibility to ever come into contact with objects to refer to them (reference, acquaintance). See also twin earth, anti-individualism, circumstances.

Annotation: The above characterizations of concepts are neither definitions nor exhausting presentations of problems related to them. Instead, they are intended to give a short introduction to the contributions below. – Lexicon of Arguments.

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Tyler Burge
Esfeld I 149
Social Externalism/Esfeld: is implied by social holism, since the convictions are at least partly determined by the social environment. (Individuation). (Camp: Tyler Burge, 1979).
Burge: E.g. suppose all internal factors of a person remain the same, while the social environment is varied.
I 149/159
This allows to show that the environment contributes to the content of the convictions of a person. The opposite position is what Burge calls "individualism" ((s) the thesis that the convictions do not depend on the environment.)
Frank I 29
Externalism/Burge: tries to reconcile this with Descartes: no conflict between E. and perception-independent self-consciousness:
what determines the thought contents also determines what the thinking subject thinks about them. (common cause).
To think the thought one does not need to know the enabling conditions. It is enough that they are fulfilled.
Frank I 664
Externalism/Burge: but there is another way in which external factors are introduced into the determination of the content of thought: "thought experiment" (Davidson: happens to be true for me):
For example, until recently, I believed arthritis was a joint inflammation resulting from calcium deposits. I did not know that any joint inflammation, like gout, is also considered to be arthritis.
When a doctor told me (falsely) that I have gout, I thought I had gout, but not arthritis.
Burge: e.g. let us imagine a possible world in which I am physically the same, but the word "arthritis" is actually applied only to calcium-induced joint inflammations.
Then the sentence "gout is not a form of arthritis" would be true and not false.
The corresponding conviction would not have been the wrong belief that gout is not a form of arthritis (but it is wrong), but a true conviction about a disease other than arthritis.
But in that world all my physical conditions and my behavior are the same as in this world.
My conviction would have changed, but I had no reason to believe it, and so in such a case I would not know what I believed. Davidson pro.
Burge: That depends on the fact that a concept is only imperfectly mastered and yet a content is believed.
Fra I 665
But this is common for a large number of expressions.

Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution.

Burge I
T. Burge
Origins of Objectivity Oxford 2010

Es I
M. Esfeld
Holismus Frankfurt/M 2002

Fra I
M. Frank (Hrsg.)
Analytische Theorien des Selbstbewusstseins Frankfurt 1994

Fra I
M. Frank (Hrsg.)
Analytische Theorien des Selbstbewusstseins Frankfurt 1994

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Ed. Martin Schulz, access date 2017-11-19