Davidson on first-person authority and externalism

Inquiry 39 (1):121-39 (1996)
Abstract
Incompatibilism is the view that privileged knowledge of our own mental states cannot be reconciled with externalism regarding the content of mental states. Davidson has recently developed two arguments that are supposed to disprove incompatibilism and establish the consistency of privileged access and externalism. One argument criticizes incompatibilism for assuming that externalism conflicts with the mind?body identity theory. Since mental states supervene on neurological events, Davidson argues, they are partly ?in the head? and are knowable just by reflection. Another argument rejects incompatibilism by repudiating the object perception model of introspection. Once extemalism is freed from the internalist idea that thoughts take objects which are inner epistemological intermediaries, Davidson maintains, it poses no threat to privileged self?knowledge. It is argued that neither of these arguments is successful, since both disprove assumptions irrelevant to incompatibilism. Moreover, it is indicated how Davidson would have to go about defending his positive account of privileged self?knowledge against the principal incompatibilist arguments
Keywords Authority  Epistemology  Externalism  Incompatibilism  Knowledge  Davidson, D
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