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I—How Both You and the Brain in a Vat Can Know Whether or Not You Are Envatted

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AbstractEpistemic externalism offers one of the most prominent responses to the sceptical challenge. Externalism has commonly been interpreted (not least by externalists themselves) as postulating a crucial asymmetry between the actual-world agent and their brain-in-a-vat (biv) counterpart: while the actual agent is in a position to know she is not envatted, her biv counterpart is not in a position to know that she is envatted, or in other words, only the former is in a position to know whether or not she is envatted. In this paper, I argue that there is in fact no such asymmetry: assuming epistemic externalism, both the actual world agent and their biv counterpart are in a position to know whether or not they are envatted. After an introduction (§i), I present the main argument (§ii). I examine to what extent the argument survives when one accepts additional externalist-friendly commitments: semantic externalism, a sensitivity condition on knowledge, and epistemic contextualism. . .

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News source: Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume Current Issue

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