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Summary The issue with armchair knowledge concerns a reductio ad absurdum, designed to show incompatibilism--the view that content externalism precludes apriori knowledge of one's own mental contents. The contention is that, if we had such knowledge under externalism, it would be possible to know apriori contingent facts about the external world. Put briefly, externalist thought experiments would show apriori that possessing the water concept requires the existence of water. And apriori self-knowledge would provide apriori knowledge that you possess the water concept. But given these bits of apriori knowledge, one could then deduce apriori that water exists. Whether this reductio is cogent is what animates the debates here.
Key works The incompatibilst reductio was first advanced by McKinsey 1991, though after a reply from Brueckner 1992, a more nuanced version was formulated by Brown 1995. Boghossian 1997 also propounded a similar version. McLaughlin & Tye 1998 in reply advanced the compatibilist side considerably; their remarks eventually lead to a concession in Brown's landmark book, Brown 2004. Another important compatibilist response denies the transmission of warrant within the reasoning; see especially Davies 2000, Wright 2000 and Wright 2000.
Introductions There are no introductions to the incompatibilist's reductio as such; instead, see the general introductions to the externalism/self-knowledge debates, under the superordinate category "Externalism and Self-Knowledge"
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  1. Frank Barel (2014). The Solution to the Consequence Problem According to Anti‐Individualism. European Journal of Philosophy 22 (1):20-33.
    : For quite some time now there has been an ongoing debate whether authoritative self-knowledge is compatible with anti-individualism.1 One influential line of argument against compatibilism is due to Paul Boghossian (1998). I argue that Boghossian misconstrues what the anti-individualist really is committed to. This defence of compatibilism is elaborated by showing how the Twin Earth thought experiment is meant to speak in favour of anti-individualism. Partly this will show that Boghossian is wrong in his denial that empirical background knowledge (...)
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  2. Helen Beebee (2002). Transfer of Warrant, Begging the Question, and Semantic Externalism. Philosophical Quarterly 51 (204):356-74.
  3. Sven Bernecker (2000). Knowing the World by Knowing One's Mind. Synthese 123 (1):1-34.
    This paper addresses the question whetherintrospection plus externalism about mental contentwarrant an a priori refutation of external-worldskepticism and ontological solipsism. The suggestionis that if thought content is partly determined byaffairs in the environment and if we can havenon-empirical knowledge of our current thoughtcontents, we can, just by reflection, know about theworld around us – we can know that our environment ispopulated with content-determining entities. Afterexamining this type of transcendental argument anddiscussing various objections found in the literature,I argue that the notion (...)
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  4. Hamed Bikaraan Behesht (2012). Slow Switching and Authority of Self-Knowledge. Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences 32:443-449.
    Based on content externalism, the question of whether self-knowledge is authoritative or not has launched a real controversy in the philosophy of mind. Boghossian proposed slow switching argument in defense of incompatibility of the two views. This argument has been criticized by some philosophers through different approaches. Vahid is one of them. He claimed that Boghossian's argument appeals to some controversial assumptions without which it cannot achieve its conclusion. In this article, I criticize Vahid's response to slow switching argument and (...)
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  5. Paul A. Boghossian (2008). Content and Justification: Philosophical Papers. OUP Oxford.
    This volume presents a series of influential essays by Paul Boghossian on the theory of content and on its relation to the phenomenon of a priori knowledge. The essays are organized under four headings: the nature of content; content and self-knowledge; knowledge, content, and the a priori; and colour concepts.
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  6. Paul A. Boghossian (1998). What the Externalist Can Know "a Priori". Philosophical Issues 9 (2):197-211.
    Controversy continues to attach to the question whether an externalism about mental content is compatible with a traditional doctrine of privileged self-knowledge. By an externalism about mental content, I mean the view that what concepts our thoughts involve may depend not only on facts that are internal to us, but on facts about our environment. It is worth emphasizing, if only because it is still occasionally misperceived, that this thesis is supposed to apply at the level of sense and not (...)
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  7. Paul A. Boghossian (1998). Replies to Commentators. Philosophical Issues 9:253-260.
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  8. Paul A. Boghossian (1997). What the Externalist Can Know A Priori. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 97 (2):161-75.
    Controversy continues to attach to the question whether an externalism about mental content is compatible with a traditional doctrine of privileged self-knowledge. By an externalism about mental content, I mean the view that what concepts our thoughts involve may depend not only on facts that are internal to us, but on facts about our environment. It is worth emphasizing, if only because it is still occasionally misperceived, that this thesis is supposed to apply at the level of sense and not (...)
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  9. Paul Boghossian & Christopher Peacocke (eds.) (2000). New Essays on the A Priori. Oxford University Press.
    A stellar line-up of leading philosophers from around the world offer new treatments of a topic which has long been central to philosophical debate, and in ...
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  10. Bill Brewer (2004). Self-Knowledge and Externalism. In J.M. Larrazabal & L.A. PC)rez Miranda (eds.), The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy. Kluwer 39-47.
    I want to discuss the possibility of combining a so-called.
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  11. Bill Brewer (2000). Externalism and A Priori Knowledge of Empirical Facts. In Christopher Peacocke & Paul A. Boghossian (eds.), New Essays on the a Priori. Oxfordo 415.
    I want to discuss the possibility of combining a so-called.
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  12. J. Brown (2003). The Reductio Argument and Transmission of Warrant. In Susana Nuccetelli (ed.), New Essays on Semantic Externalism and Self-Knowledge. MIT Press
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  13. J. Brown (2001). Anti-Individualism and Agnosticism. Analysis 61 (3):213-24.
    McKinsey-style reductio arguments aim to show that anti-individualism is incompatible with privileged access, the claim that a subject can have a priori knowledge of her thought contents. I defend my version of the reductio against the objections of Falvey, and McLaughlin and Tye. However, I raise and discuss a more serious objection--that it may be difficult for a subject to know a priori that she is agnostic about a concept, given that agnosticism involves being unsure whether a concept applies to (...)
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  14. J. Brown (1995). The Incompatibility of Anti-Individualism and Privileged Access. Analysis 55 (3):149-56.
    In this paper, I defend McKinsey's argument (Analysis 1991) that Burge's antiindividualist position is incompatible with privileged access, viz. the claim that each subject can know his own thought contents just by reflection and without having undertaken an empirical investigation. I argue that Burge thinks that there are certain necessary conditions for a subject to have thoughts involving certain sorts of concepts; these conditions are appropriately different for thoughts involving natural kind concepts and thoughts involving non-natural kind concepts. I use (...)
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  15. Jessica Brown (2004). Anti-Individualism and Knowledge. MIT Press.
    A persuasive monograph that answers the keyepistemological arguments against anti-individualism in thephilosophy of mind.
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  16. Jessica Brown (2001). Book Review. Knowing Our Own Minds Crispin Wright, Barry Smith, Cynthia MacDonald. [REVIEW] Mind 110 (438):586-588.
  17. Jessica Brown (1999). Boghossian on Externalism and Privileged Access. Analysis 59 (1):52-59.
    Boghossian has argued that Putnam's externalism is incompatible with privileged access, i.e., the claim that a subject can have nonempirical knowledge of her thought contents ('What the externalist can know a priori', PAS 1997). Boghossian's argument assumes that Oscar can know a priori that (1) 'water' aims to name a natural kind; and (2) 'water' expresses an atomic concept. However, I show that if Burge's externalism is correct, then these assumptions may well be false. This leaves Boghossian with two options: (...)
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  18. Anthony Brueckner (2008). Wright on the McKinsey Problem. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 76 (2):385-391.
    The McKinsey Problem concerns a puzzling implication of the doctrines of Content Externalism and Privileged Access. I provide a categorization of possible solutions to the problem. Then I discuss Crispin Wright’s work on the problem. I argue that Wright has misconceived the status of his own proferred solution to the problem.
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  19. Anthony L. Brueckner (2007). Externalism and Privileged Access Are Consistent. In Brian P. McLaughlin & Jonathan D. Cohen (eds.), Contemporary Debates in Philosophy of Mind. Blackwell
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  20. Anthony L. Brueckner (2005). Noordhof on McKinsey-Brown. Analysis 65 (285):86-88.
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  21. Anthony L. Brueckner (2004). Brewer on the McKinsey Problem. Analysis 64 (1):41-43.
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  22. Anthony L. Brueckner (2004). McKinsey Redux? In Richard Schantz (ed.), The Externalist Challenge. De Gruyter 2--377.
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  23. Anthony L. Brueckner (2001). A Priori Knowledge of the World Not Easily Available. Philosophical Studies 104 (1):109-114.
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  24. Anthony L. Brueckner (1994). Knowledge of Content and Knowledge of the World. Philosophical Review 103 (2):327-343.
    In "Externalism, Self-Knowledge and Skepticism,"' Kevin Falvey and Joseph Owens argue that externalism with respect to mental content does not engender skepticism about knowledge of content. They go on to argue that even when externalism is freed from epistemological difficulties, the thesis cannot be used against Cartesian skepticism about knowledge of the external world. I would like to raise some questions about these claims.
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  25. Anthony L. Brueckner (1992). Semantic Answers to Skepticism. Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 73 (3):200-19.
  26. Anthony L. Brueckner (1992). What an Anti-Individualist Knows A Priori. Analysis 52 (2):111-18.
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  27. Keith Butler (2000). Problems for Semantic Externalism and A Priori Refutations of Skeptical Arguments. Dialectica 54 (1):29-49.
    SummaryA familiar sort of argument for skepticism about the external world appeals to the evidential similarity between what is presumed to be the normal case and the case where one is a brain in a vat . An argument from Putnam has been taken by many to provide an a priori refutation of this sort of skeptical argument. The question I propose to address in this paper is whether Putnam's argument affords us an a priori refutation of skeptical arguments that (...)
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  28. Herman Cappelen & Douglas G. Winblad (1999). "Reference" Externalized and the Role of Intuitions in Semantic Theory. American Philosophical Quarterly 36 (4):337-50.
  29. Josep E. Corbi (1998). A Challenge to Boghossian's Incompatibilist Argument. Philosophical Issues 9:231 - 242.
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  30. Martin Davies (2003). Externalism, Self-Knowledge and Transmission of Warrant. In Maria J. Frapolli & E. Romero (eds.), Meaning, Basic Self-Knowledge, and Mind. Csli
    Externalism about some mental property, M, is the thesis that whether a person (or other physical being) has M depends, not only on conditions inside the person.
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  31. Martin Davies (2003). The Problem of Armchair Knowledge. In Susana Nuccetelli (ed.), New Essays on Semantic Externalism and Self-Knowledge. MIT Press
    He then argues that (1), (2) and (3) constitute an inconsistent triad as follows (1991, p. 15): Suppose (1) that Oscar knows a priori that he is thinking that water is wet. Then by (2), Oscar can simply deduce E, using premisses that are knowable a priori, including the premiss that he is thinking that water is wet. Since Oscar can deduce E from premisses that are knowable a priori, Oscar can know E itself a priori. But this contradicts (3), (...)
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  32. Martin Davies (2000). Externalism, Architecturalism, and Epistemic Warrant. In C. Wright, B. Smith & C. Macdonald (eds.), Knowing Our Own Minds. Oxford University Press 321-363.
    This paper addresses a problem about epistemic warrant. The problem is posed by philosophical arguments for externalism about the contents of thoughts, and similarly by philosophical arguments for architecturalism about thinking, when these arguments are put together with a thesis of first person authority. In each case, first personal knowledge about our thoughts plus the kind of knowledge that is provided by a philosophical argument seem, together, to open an unacceptably ‘non-empirical’ route to knowledge of empirical facts. Furthermore, this unwelcome (...)
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  33. Martin Davies (2000). Externalism and Armchair Knowledge. In Paul A. Boghossian & Christopher Peacocke (eds.), New Essays on the a Priori. Oxford University Press 384--414.
    [I]f you could know a priori that you are in a given mental state, and your being in that state conceptually or logically implies the existence of external objects, then you could know a priori that the external world exists. Since you obviously _can.
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  34. Simon Dierig (2010). The Discrimination Argument Revisited. Erkenntnis 72 (1):73 - 92.
    The first explicit argument for the incompatibility of externalism in the philosophy of mind and a priori self-knowledge is Boghossian’s discrimination argument. In this essay, I oppose the third premise of this argument, trying to show by means of a thought experiment that possessing the “twater thought” is not an alternative, a fortiori not a relevant alternative, to having the “water thought.” I then examine a modified version of Boghossian’s argument. The attempt is made to substantiate the claim that the (...)
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  35. Kevin Falvey & Joseph Owens (1994). Externalism, Self-Knowledge, and Skepticism. Philosophical Review 103 (1):107-37.
    Psychological externalism is the thesis Chat the contents of many of a person's propositional mental states are determined in part by relations he bears to his natural and social environment. This thesis has recently been thrust into prominence in the philosophy of mind by a series of thought experiments due to Hilary Putnam and Tyler Burge. Externalism is a metaphysical thesis, but in this work I investigate its implications for the epistemology of the mental. I am primarily concerned with the (...)
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  36. Jordi Fernandez (2004). Externalism and Self-Knowledge: A Puzzle in Two Dimensions. European Journal of Philosophy 12 (1):17-37.
    The definitive version is available at www.blackwell-synergy.com.
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  37. Bryan Frances (1998). Propositional Attitudes and Physicalism. Dissertation, University of Minnesota
    Many theorists have contended that since the mind depends on the brain, the contents of our thoughts are determined by just the intrinsic physical properties of our bodies. In the first part of my dissertation I examine this theory's negation, anti-individualism, by investigating the "Twin-Earth" thought experiments of Putnam and Burge. Although anti-individualism has recently become widely accepted, I argue that none of the arguments given thus far are sound; nor has the theory been given a proper formulation. I also (...)
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  38. Bryan Frances, Twin Earth Thought Experiments.
  39. Maria J. Frapolli & E. Romero (2003). Anti-Individualism and Basic Self-Knowledge. In Maria J. Frapolli & E. Romero (eds.), Meaning, Basic Self-Knowledge, and Mind. Csli
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  40. Maria J. Frapolli & E. Romero (eds.) (2003). Meaning, Basic Self-Knowledge, and Mind: Essays on Tyler Burge. University of Chicago Press.
  41. Andr Gallois (1996). Externalism and Skepticism. Philosophical Studies 81 (1):1-26.
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  42. Brie Gertler (2004). We Can't Know a Priori That H2O Exists. But Can We Know a Priori That Water Does? Analysis 64 (1):44-47.
  43. Kathrin Glüer-Pagin, Brown on the Reductio.
    in What Detemines Content? The Internalism/Externalism Dispute, ed. T. Marvan, Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Press 2006.
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  44. Sanford C. Goldberg (2004). Review of Maria Frapolli (Ed.), Esther Romero (Ed.), Meaning, Basic Self-Knowledge, and Mind: Essays on Tyler Burge. [REVIEW] Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 2004 (1).
  45. Sanford C. Goldberg (2003). Anti-Individualism, Conceptual Omniscience, and Skepticism. Philosophical Studies 116 (1):53-78.
    Given anti-individualism, a subject might have a priori (non-empirical)knowledge that she herself is thinking that p, have complete and exhaustive explicational knowledge of all of the concepts composing the content that p, and yet still need empirical information (e.g. regarding her embedding conditions and history) prior to being in a position to apply her exhaustive conceptual knowledge in a knowledgeable way to the thought that p. This result should be welcomed by anti-individualists: it squares with everything that compatibilist-minded anti-individualists have (...)
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  46. Sanford C. Goldberg (2003). On Our Alleged A Priori Knowledge That Water Exists. Analysis 63 (1):38-41.
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  47. Benjamin A. Gorman (2005). Review of Anti-Individualism and Knowledge. [REVIEW] Essays in Philosophy 6 (1):10.
  48. John Greco (2004). Externalism and Skepticism. In Richard Schantz (ed.), The Externalist Challenge. De Gruyter 53.
    Part 1 argues that, despite rhetorical appearances, McDowell accepts a standard version of epistemic externalism. Moreover, epistemic externalism plays an important role in McDowell’s response to skepticism. Part 2 argues that, contra McDowell, epistemic externalism is necessary for rejecting skepticism, and content externalism is not sufficient for rejecting skepticism.
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  49. Jussi Haukioja (2006). Semantic Externalism and A Priori Self-Knowledge. Ratio 19 (2):149-159.
    The argument known as the 'McKinsey Recipe' tries to establish the incompatibility of semantic externalism (about natural kind concepts in particular) and _a priori _self- knowledge about thoughts and concepts by deriving from the conjunction of these theses an absurd conclusion, such as that we could know _a priori _that water exists. One reply to this argument is to distinguish two different readings of 'natural kind concept': (i) a concept which _in fact _denotes a natural kind, and (ii) a concept (...)
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  50. Pierre Jacob (2004). Do We Know How We Know Our Own Minds Yet? In Richard Schantz (ed.), The Externalist Challenge. De Gruyter
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