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Warwick Graduate Conference in the Philosophy of Mind

Social Externalism, Segal and Contradictory Intuitions

Alex Buckley (Leeds)


In his recent publication, A Slim Book About Narrow Content (2000), Gabriel Segal has attempted to argue that the social externalism of Tyler Burge is inadequate as an account of the fundamental nature of folk psychological explanation. The first part of this paper will comprise a rebuttal of this argument, on the basis that Segal assumes the truth of a disputed premise. In part two I will discuss the ramifications of the rebuttal of the argument. Briefly: the rebuttal leaves both internalists and externalists with a messy situation concerning our intuitions, and the natural way to create some order can raise problems for the social externalist. So the position expressed in this paper as a whole is that whilst Segal's argument, as it stands, fails to seriously call social externalism into question, it does indirectly mount a serious challenge. Finally, I shall outline a response the externalist can make.


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