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Summary The debate on content externalism and self-knowledge concerns the supposed incompatibility between externalism and armchair knowledge of one's own thought contents. Following Putnam 1975 and Burge 1979, many philosophers accept that mental contents are individuated partly by the social and/or physical environment. But in a Cartesian vein, many are also convinced that we enjoy especially secure armchair knowledge of our own occurrent thought contents. Yet if those contents are partly determined by the environment, it seems we could not know our thought contents just from the armchair. Whether I am having a water-thought vs. a twin-water-thought would depend on factors which are known only empirically. The debate turns on whether this apparent conflict is real.
Key works Millikan 1984's argument against "meaning rationalism" was the earliest articulation of how externalist semantics precludes Cartesian self-knowledge. But most see the externalism/self-knowledge debate as beginning with an exchange between Davidson 1987 and Burge 1988 (though both authors denied the incompatibility). However, Boghossian 1989 offered an incompatibilist reply, and other incompatibilists soon followed; see McKinsey 1991 and Brown 1995. Early compatibilist counter-replies are from Falvey & Owens 1994 and Macdonald 1995. Boghossian 1997 was a further contribution to the incompatibilist side, and the compatibilists McLaughlin & Tye 1998 and Sawyer 1998 followed soon after. From there, the literature truly began to explode.
Introductions Ludlow & Martin 1998 contains a useful introductory essay, besides anthologizing most of the key papers listed above. McLaughlin et al 2009 contains a selection by Jessica Brown that is also useful. See the relevant chapters in Kallestrup 2011 as well. For a longer, more detailed introduction, and for a lengthy bibliography, see Parent 2013 in the Stanford Encyclopedia.
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  1. Kent Bach & Reinaldo Elugardo (2003). Conceptual Minimalism and Anti-Individualism: A Reply to Goldberg. Noûs 37 (1):151-160.
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  2. Lynne Rudder Baker (2007). First-Person Externalism. Modern Schoolman 84:155-170.
    Ever since the 1970’s, philosophers of mind have engaged in a lively discussion of Externalism. Externalism is the metaphysical thesis that the contents of one’s thoughts are determined partly by empirical features of one’s environment. Externalism appears to clash with another plausible thesis—the epistemological thesis that one can have knowledge of one’s own thoughts, without evidence or empirical investigation. Many have argued that the conjunction of these theses is incompatible. I have argued elsewhere for their compatibility.1 Here I’ll just assume (...)
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  3. Lynne Rudder Baker (2007). Social Externalism and First-Person Authority. Erkenntnis 67 (2):287 - 300.
    Social Externalism is the thesis that many of our thoughts are individuated in part by the linguistic and social practices of the thinker’s community. After defending Social Externalism and arguing for its broad application, I turn to the kind of defeasible first-person authority that we have over our own thoughts. Then, I present and refute an argument that uses first-person authority to disprove Social Externalism. Finally, I argue briefly that Social Externalism—far from being incompatible with first-person authority—provides a check on (...)
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  4. Lynne Rudder Baker (2005). Anti-Individualism and Knowledge – Jessica Brown. [REVIEW] Times Literary Supplement 5336:26.
    Traditionally, Anglophone philosophers have assumed that the identity of a thought is determined wholly by the subject's intrinsic states--e.g., her brain states. In the 1970's, this traditional view (lately called 'individualism' or ‘internalism’) was challenged by Hilary Putnam and Tyler Burge, who argued that the contents of one’s beliefs, desires, intentions are partly determined by one's physical, social and/or linguistic environment. The question is not whether the environment causes one to think what one does. Rather, the question is one of (...)
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  5. Sven Bernecker (2009). Self-Knowledge and the Bounds of Authenticity. Erkenntnis 71 (1):107 - 121.
    This paper criticizes the widespread view whereby a second-order judgment of the form ‘I believe that p ’ qualifies as self-knowledge only if the embedded content, p , is of the same type as the content of the intentional state reflected upon and the self-ascribed attitude, belief, is of the same type as the attitude the subject takes towards p . Rather than requiring identity of contents across levels of cognition self-knowledge requires only that the embedded content of the second-order (...)
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  6. Sven Bernecker (2006). Prospects for Epistemic Compatibilism. Philosophical Studies 130 (1):81-104.
    This paper argues that Sosa’s virtue perspectivism fails to combine satisfactorily internalist and externalist features in a single theory. Internalism and externalism are reconciled at the price of creating a Gettier problem at the level of “reflective” or second-order knowledge. The general lesson to be learned from the critique of virtue perspectivism is that internalism and externalism cannot be combined by bifurcating justification and knowledge into an object-level and a meta-level and assigning externalism and internalism to different levels.
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  7. Sven Bernecker (1998). Self-Knowledge and Closure. In Peter Ludlow & N. Martin (eds.), Externalism and Self-Knowledge. Csli.
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  8. Sven Bernecker (1997). Analyomen 2, Volume III: Philosophy of Mind, Practical Philosophy, Miscellanea. Hawthorne: De Gruyter.
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  9. Sven Bernecker (1997). On Knowing One's Own Mind. In Analyomen 2, Volume III: Philosophy of Mind, Practical Philosophy, Miscellanea. Hawthorne: De Gruyter.
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  10. Akeel Bilgrami (1992). Can Externalism Be Reconciled with Self-Knowledge? Philosophical Topics 20 (1):233-68.
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  11. Akeel Bilgrami (1991). Thought and its Objects. Philosophical Issues 1:215-232.
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  12. Andrew Brook, Externalism and the Varieties of Self-Awareness.
    Externalism is the view that some crucial element in the content of our representational states is outside of not just the states whose content they are but even the person who has those states. If so, the contents of such states (and, many hold, the states themselves) do not supervene on anything local to the person whose has them. There are a number of different candidates for what that element is: function (Dretske), causal connection (Putnam, Kripke, Fodor), and social context (...)
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  13. Anthony Brueckner (2007). Content Externalism, Entitlement, and Reasons. In Sanford Goldberg (ed.), Internalism and Externalism in Semantics and Epistemology. Oxford University Press. 160.
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  14. Anthony Brueckner (2005). Cartesian Skepticism, Content Externalism, and Self-Knowledge. Veritas 50 (4).
    Há um argumento cético clássico derivado das Meditações sobre a filosofia primeira. Este artigo oferece uma formulação contemporânea padrão do argumento, pretendendo mostrar que ninguém sabe qualquer coisa sobre o mundo extramental. A obra de Hilary Putnam na filosofia da linguagem e da mente parece fornecer uma resposta a uma versão atualizada do argumento cético cartesiano. Em sua maior parte, este artigo é dedicado a uma análise e crítica das meditações anti-céticas de Putnam. PALAVRAS-CHAVE – Descartes. Putnam. Ceticismo. Cérebros em (...)
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  15. Anthony L. Brueckner (2003). Self-Knowledge Via Inner Observation of External Objects? Australasian Journal of Philosophy 81 (1):118-122.
    Harold Langsam has recently presented a novel observational account of self-knowledge. I critically discuss this account and argue that it fails to provide a uniform understanding of how we are able to know the contents of our own thoughts.
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  16. Anthony L. Brueckner (2003). Two Transcendental Arguments Concerning Self-Knowledge. In Susana Nuccetelli (ed.), New Essays on Semantic Externalism and Self-Knowledge. MIT Press.
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  17. Anthony L. Brueckner (2002). Anti-Individualism and Analyticity. Analysis 62 (1):87-91.
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  18. Anthony L. Brueckner (2001). Problems for a Recent Account of Introspective Knowledge. Facta Philosophica.
  19. Anthony L. Brueckner (2000). Ambiguity and Knowledge of Content. Analysis 60 (3):257-60.
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  20. Anthony L. Brueckner (2000). Externalism and the a Prioricity of Self-Knowledge. Analysis 60 (1):132-136.
    Michael McKinsey has argued that content externalism has the absurd consequence that one can know a priori that water exists. Richard W. Miller responds that when a prioricity is properly understood, McKinsey's argument should not be seen as a _reductio of externalism. This paper disputes Miller's understanding of a prioricity.
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  21. Anthony L. Brueckner (1999). Transcendental Arguments From Content Externalism. In Robert Stern (ed.), Transcendental Arguments: Problems and Prospects. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
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  22. Anthony L. Brueckner (1999). Two Recent Approaches to Self-Knowledge. Philosophical Perspectives 13 (s13):251-71.
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  23. Anthony L. Brueckner (1998). Content Externalism and a Priori Knowledge. Protosociology 11:149-159.
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  24. Anthony L. Brueckner (1995). Trying to Get Outside Your Own Skin. Philosophical Topics 23 (1):79-111.
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  25. Anthony L. Brueckner (1993). Skepticism and Externalism. Philosophia 22 (1-2):169-71.
  26. Anthony L. Brueckner (1990). Scepticism About Knowledge of Content. Mind 99 (395):447-51.
    Focuses on the arguments that show the externalism of mental content. Discussion on the principle of knowledge identification; Account of basic self-knowledge; Interpretations of sentence content; Skepticism of knowledge content.
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  27. Tyler Burge (2003). Mental Agency in Authoritative Self-Knowledge: Reply to Kobes. In Martin Hahn & B. Ramberg (eds.), Reflections and Replies: Essays on the Philosophy of Tyler Burge. Mit Press.
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  28. Keith Butler (1998). Externalism and Skepticism. Dialogue 37 (1):13-34.
  29. William Child (2006). Wittgenstein's Externalism: Context, Self-Knowledge & the Past. In Tomáš Marvan (ed.), What Determines Content?: The Internalism/Externalism Dispute. Cambridge Scholars Press.
  30. Andrew Cullison (2007). Privileged Access, Externalism, and Ways of Believing. Philosophical Studies 136 (3):305-318.
    By exploiting a concept called ways of believing, I offer a plausible reformulation of the doctrine of privileged access. This reformulation will provide us with a defense of compatibilism, the view that content externalism and privileged access are compatible.
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  31. Fred Dretske (2006). Representation, Teleosemantics, and the Problem of Self-Knowledge. In Graham F. Macdonald & David Papineau (eds.), Teleosemantics. Oxford University Press.
  32. Fred Dretske (1994). Introspection. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 94:263-278.
  33. Gary Ebbs (1996). Can We Take Our Words at Face Value? Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 56 (3):499-530.
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  34. Kevin Falvey (2000). The Compatibility of Anti-Individualism and Privileged Access. Analysis 60 (1):137-142.
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  35. Katalin Farkas (2008). The Subject's Point of View. Oxford University Press.
    Descartes's philosophy has had a considerable influence on the modern conception of the mind, but many think that this influence has been largely negative. The main project of The Subject's Point of View is to argue that discarding certain elements of the Cartesian conception would be much more difficult than critics seem to allow, since it is tied to our understanding of basic notions, including the criteria for what makes someone a person, or one of us. The crucial feature of (...)
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  36. Katalin Farkas (2006). Semantic Internalism and Externalism. In Ernest Lepore & Barry C. Smith (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Language. Oxford University Press.
    Abstract: This paper introduces and analyses the doctrine of externalism about semantic content; discusses the Twin Earth argument for externalism and the assumptions behind it, and examines the question of whether externalism about content is compatible with a privileged knowledge of meanings and mental contents.
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  37. Richard A. Fumerton (2003). Introspection and Internalism. In Susana Nuccetelli (ed.), New Essays on Semantic Externalism and Self-Knowledge. MIT Press.
  38. Andr Gallois (1994). Deflationary Self-Knowledge. In M. Michael & John O'Leary-Hawthorne (eds.), Philosophy in Mind: The Place of Philosophy in the Study of Mind. Kluwer. 49--63.
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  39. H. J. Glock & John M. Preston (1995). Externalism and First-Person Authority. The Monist 78 (4):515-33.
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  40. Sanford C. Goldberg (2003). What Do You Know When You Know Your Own Thoughts? In Susana Nuccetelli (ed.), New Essays on Semantic Externalism and Self-Knowledge. MIT Press.
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  41. Lisa L. Hall (1998). The Self-Knowledge That Externalists Leave Out. Southwest Philosophy Review 14 (2):115-123.
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  42. Henry Jackman (2007). Incompatibility Arguments and Semantic Self Knowledge. Southwest Philosophy Review 23 (1):173-180.
    There has been much discussion recently of what has been labeled the.
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  43. Harold Langsam (2002). Externalism, Self-Knowledge, and Inner Observation. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 80 (1):42-61.
    There is a continuing debate as to whether externalism about mental content is compatible with certain commonly accepted views about the nature of self-knowledge. Both sides to this debate seem to agree that externalism is _not compatible with the traditional view that self-knowledge is acquired by means of observation. In this paper, I argue that externalism is compatible with this traditional view of self-knowledge, and that, in fact, we have good reason to believe that the self-knowledge at issue is acquired (...)
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  44. William S. Larkin, Concepts and Introspection: An Externalist Defense of Inner Sense.
  45. Willian Larkin, The Non-Apriority of Concept Width.
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  46. J. M. Larrazabal & L. A. Perez Miranda (eds.) (2004). Language, Knowledge, and Representation. Kluwer.
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  47. Cynthia Macdonald (1995). Externalism and First-Person Authority. Synthese 104 (1):99-122.
    Externalism in the philosophy of mind is threatened by the view that subjects are authoritative with regard to the contents of their own intentional states. If externalism is to be reconciled with first-person authority, two issues need to be addressed: (a) how the non-evidence-based character of knowledge of one's own intentional states is compatible with ignorance of the empirical factors that individuate the contents of those states, and (b) how, given externalism, the non-evidence-based character of such knowledge could place its (...)
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  48. Brad Majors & Sarah Sawyer (2005). The Epistemological Argument for Content Externalism. Philosophical Perspectives 39 (1):257-280.
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  49. Luca Malatesti, Externalism and the Knowledge of Mental States.
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  50. David Manley (2007). Safety, Content, Apriority, Self-Knowledge. Journal of Philosophy 104 (8):403-423.
    This essay motivates a revised version of the epistemic condition of safety and then employs the revision to (i) challenge traditional conceptions of apriority, (ii) refute ‘strong privileged access’, and (iii) resolve a well-known puzzle about externalism and self-knowledge.
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