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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. Peter Achinstein & Ernest Adams (1980). Prepared by Aron Edidin and Paul Boghossian. In Richard C. Jeffrey (ed.), Studies in Inductive Logic and Probability. Berkeley: University of California Press 2--299.
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  2. Kent Bach & Reinaldo Elugardo (2003). Conceptual Minimalism and Anti-Individualism: A Reply to Goldberg. Noûs 37 (1):151-160.
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  3. Lynne Rudder Baker (2007). First-Person Externalism. Modern Schoolman 84 (2/3):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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  4. 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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  5. 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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  6. 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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  7. 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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  8. Sven Bernecker (1998). Self-Knowledge and Closure. In Peter Ludlow & N. Martin (eds.), Externalism and Self-Knowledge. Csli
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  9. Sven Bernecker (1997). Analyomen 2, Volume III: Philosophy of Mind, Practical Philosophy, Miscellanea. Hawthorne: De Gruyter.
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  10. Sven Bernecker (1997). On Knowing One's Own Mind. In Analyomen 2, Volume III: Philosophy of Mind, Practical Philosophy, Miscellanea. Hawthorne: De Gruyter 1-163.
    This dissertation addresses the question whether externalism about thought content is consistent with claims about the epistemically special access that subjects have to their own present and conscious thoughts. Externalism is the view that the contents of many of our thoughts are determined at least in part by external affairs. Given externalism, knowledge of one's thoughts seems to require information beyond what is available to introspection. This conclusion is inconsistent with the intuitive conviction that such knowledge is environmentally neutral. ;I (...)
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  11. Akeel Bilgrami (1992). Can Externalism Be Reconciled with Self-Knowledge? Philosophical Topics 20 (1):233-68.
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  12. Akeel Bilgrami (1991). Thought and its Objects. Philosophical Issues 1:215-232.
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  13. Paul A. Boghossian (1989). Content and Self-Knowledge in Philosophy of Mind. Philosophical Topics 17 (1):5-26.
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  14. Cristina Borgoni (2014). Debating Self-Knowledge, by Anthony Brueckner and Gary Ebbs. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 93 (1):204-204.
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  15. 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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  16. J. Brown (2009). Semantic Externalism and Self-Knowledge. In Ansgar Beckermann & Brian P. McLaughlin (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Mind. Oxford University Press 767--780.
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  17. 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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  18. Anthony Brueckner (2005). Cartesian Skepticism, Content Externalism, and Self-Knowledge. Veritas: Revista de Filosofia da PUCRS 50 (4):53-64.
    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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  19. 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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  20. Anthony L. Brueckner (2003). Two Transcendental Arguments Concerning Self-Knowledge. In Susana Nuccetelli (ed.), New Essays on Semantic Externalism and Self-Knowledge. MIT Press
  21. Anthony L. Brueckner (2002). Anti-Individualism and Analyticity. Analysis 62 (1):87-91.
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  22. Anthony L. Brueckner (2001). Problems for a Recent Account of Introspective Knowledge. Facta Philosophica.
  23. Anthony L. Brueckner (2000). Ambiguity and Knowledge of Content. Analysis 60 (3):257-60.
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  24. 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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  25. 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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  26. Anthony L. Brueckner (1999). Two Recent Approaches to Self-Knowledge. Philosophical Perspectives 13 (s13):251-71.
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  27. Anthony L. Brueckner (1998). Content Externalism and a Priori Knowledge. Protosociology 11:149-159.
    M. McKinsey has argued that the externalist theory of mental content implies that one can have a priori knowledge of propositions that are in fact only knowable a posteriori. So, according to McKinsey, the externalist theory must be mistaken. A. Gallois and J. O'Leary-Hawthorne have formalized this argument. In this paper, I discuss their formalization and their criticisms of it.
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  28. Anthony L. Brueckner (1995). The Characteristic Thesis of Anti-Individualism. Analysis 55 (3):146-48.
    This is a response to an argument (by Michael McKinsey) purporting to show that anti-individualism is trivially true. I show that this argument rests upon a misconception of the basic claim of anti-individualism.
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  29. Anthony L. Brueckner (1995). Trying to Get Outside Your Own Skin. Philosophical Topics 23 (1):79-111.
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  30. Anthony L. Brueckner (1993). Skepticism and Externalism. Philosophia 22 (1-2):169-71.
  31. 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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  32. 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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  33. Tyler Burge (1988). Reply: Authoritative Self-Knowledge and Perceptual Individualism. In Robert H. Grimm & D. D. Merrill (eds.), Contents of Thought. University of Arizona Press 86--98.
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  34. Keith Butler (1998). Externalism and Skepticism. Dialogue 37 (1):13-34.
  35. Stephen Andrew Butterfill, Review of Anti-Individualism : Mind and Language, Knowledge and Justification, by Goldberg, S. C. [REVIEW]
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  36. J. E. Cairnes, A. Assiter, M. Baranzini, P. Bardhan, A. Barten, K. Basu, T. L. Beauchamp, M. Bernal, K. Bharadwaj & M. Black (1999). Bradley, I. 40 Bronfenbrenner, M. 203, 206 Brown, A. 206 Brueckner, AL 168. In Steve Fleetwood (ed.), Critical Realism in Economics: Development and Debate. Routledge
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  37. Josephkeim Campbell (2008). Reply to Brueckner. Analysis 68 (299):264-269.
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  38. Wolfgang Carl (2014). 5. Authoritative Self-Knowledge. In The First-Person Point of View. De Gruyter 121-150.
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  39. 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
  40. 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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  41. D. Davidson (1988). Individualism and Self-Knowledge-Reply. Journal of Philosophy 85 (11):664-665.
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  42. Donald Davidson (1989). The Conditions of Thought. In Grazer Philosophische Studien. Netherlands: Rodopi 193-200.
    This summary paper explains why we are not constrained to start from a solipsistic, or first person point of view in considering the nature of thought. My aim here is to suggest the nature of an acceptable extemalism. According to this view, knowledge of other minds need not be a problem m addition to the problem of empirical knowledge. The essential step toward determining the content of someone else's thought is made by discovering what normally causes those thoughts. Hence I (...)
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  43. Martin Davies (2000). Externalism and a Priori Knowledge. In Paul Boghossian & Christopher Peacocke (eds.), New Essays on the a Priori. Oxford University Press 384--432.
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  44. Fred Dretske (2006). Representation, Teleosemantics, and the Problem of Self-Knowledge. In Graham F. Macdonald & David Papineau (eds.), Teleosemantics. Oxford University Press
  45. Fred Dretske (1994). Introspection. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 94:263-278.
  46. Jacques-Paul Dubucs (2006). Susana Nuccetelli (Ed.), New Essays on Semantic Externalism and Self-Knowledge. Revue d'Histoire des Sciences 59 (2):366-368.
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  47. Gary Ebbs (1996). Can We Take Our Words at Face Value? Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 56 (3):499-530.
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  48. Kevin Falvey (2000). The Compatibility of Anti-Individualism and Privileged Access. Analysis 60 (1):137-142.
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  49. 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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  50. 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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