Social Externalism, the Extended Mind, and the Expansion of our Epistemic Capacity
It appears to be the case that some of our concepts have their content fixed by the minds of others. For example, we might have thoughts involving the concept QUARK, without knowing quite what quarks are. In such a case, we are likely to accept the authority of a physicist to tell us what exactly we are thinking about. This phenomenon, known as ‘social externalism’ about concepts, is puzzling both in terms of how such concepts are supposed to work, but also in terms of why we should have concepts whose content is fixed by the minds of others. In this chapter it is argued that if we think about social externalism in terms of extended mind reasoning we find a better account of how deferential concepts work, and why we have them, than has hitherto been available.
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