A. Virtue Epistemology > Carter and Palermos on “Active Externalism and Epistemic Internalism”

Carter and Palermos have posted an interesting forthcoming paper that extends the discussion of VE's place in the challenge of "active externalism" and cognitive individualism.

Abstract. Internalist approaches to epistemic justification are, though controversial, considered a live option in contemporary epistemology. Accordingly, if ‘active’ externalist approaches in the philosophy of mind—e.g. the extended cognition and extended mind theses—are in principle
incompatible with internalist approaches to justification in epistemology, then this will be an epistemological strike against, at least the prima facie
appeal of, active externalism. It is shown here however that, contrary to pretheoretical intuitions, neither the extended cognition nor the extended mind theses are in principle incompatible with two prominent versions of epistemic internalism—viz., accessibilism and mentalism. In fact, one possible diagnosis is that pretheoretical intuitions regarding the incompatibility of active externalism with epistemic internalism are symptomatic of a tacit yet incorrect identification of epistemic internalism with epistemic individualism. Thus, active externalism is not in principle incompatible with epistemic internalism per se and does not (despite initial appearances to the contrary) significantly restrict one’s options in epistemology.

Keywords: extended cognition, extended mind, epistemic internalism
August 19, 2014 | Registered CommenterGuy Axtell
Yes, interesting stuff this "active externalism" and its challenge to cognitive individualism. Naturalized VE would side with the former, I think, but what do you say? Comparing notes, here is a somewhat related excerpt from by manuscript Objectivity that bears upon "de-centering epistemic agency" as active externalism does. So I just added a reference to Carter and Palermos:

Excerpt from Objectivity (Polity Press, 2015 forthcoming Key Concepts in Philosophy series):

[Attempts to de-centralize agency have sources both inside and outside of epistemology, in fields such as feminist studies and Science and Technology Studies (STS). Work on extended and distributed cognition may draw from different disciplines, but it shares a non-individualistic conception of epistemic agency. Non-individualism militates not only against rationalist/internalist thought, but also against versions of empiricism that take a foundationalist approach by treating perception as “the given,” and non-perceptual knowledge as basically inference from this bedrock of perception. Recent advances within philosophy of mind and cognitive science have thrown light on extended cognition, the many ways in which human cognition is enhanced or enabled by instruments, human enhancement, and the experience of virtual reality.
Different schools of thought concerned with social epistemology have also been converging on a distributed conception of cognitive agency. The idea of distributed knowledge considers the importance of social divisions of labor and dependency relations. Cognition is distributed among these supra-personal entities too. Knowledge-producing or knowledge-maintaining institutions such as universities, research laboratories and libraries, along with our general dependence upon the testimony of other persons and collectives, such as news sources we trust, are just some of the ways that dependency relations structure our epistemic agency.
While it remains contested how to understand the social aspects of cognition and of agent evaluation, our agency is not located centrally as in traditional Cartesian or internalist epistemology, through introspection or internal looks within. So a theory of knowledge needs to focus on broader concerns than the states, skills, and background information of individual agents. Collective epistemology and the dynamics of groups have not been central concerns where methodological individualism is assumed. Recent work on group deliberation and collective epistemology has been spurred by more interests in extended and distributed knowledge that philosophers share with the sciences. A title given to these three developments is active externalism, which can be partly defined in terms of the denial of cognitive individualism, “the idea that one’s cognitive economy is restricted within one’s organism.” (Carter and Palermos 2014 forthcoming, p. 19). Do not quote without permission]
August 19, 2014 | Registered CommenterGuy Axtell