Social Externalism and Conceptual Falsehood

Bolesław Czarnecki


According to Tyler Burge my belief about arthritis is consciously accessible and
inferentially integrated with my other beliefs about it, i.e., being aware of
the content of my ‘arthritis’ belief enables me to make various inferences
across the network of other accessible beliefs. Some of these beliefs are true,
other are false but they all affect the way I conceive of arthritis. Given a
community of experts whose beliefs about arthritis are all true, my concept of
arthritis must differ from theirs. I shall demonstrate that social externalism,
the most appreciated version of externalism about mental content, yields a very
peculiar consequence that conceptual falsehood does not matter at all in
determining the content of our beliefs. Specifically, according to social
externalism even if a concept is misapplied, then merely in virtue of one’s
willingness to adhere to the correct usage and despite the misapplication, one
is in the possession of the right concept.


philosophy; 20th century philosophy; social externalism; conceptual falsehood; mental content; broad content; narrow content; epistemic emptiness

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