Reason and the past: The role of rationality in diachronic self-knowledge

Synthese 145 (3):467-495 (2004)
Abstract
  Knowing one’s past thoughts and attitudes is a vital sort of self-knowledge. In the absence of memorial impressions to serve as evidence, we face a pressing question of how such self-knowledge is possible. Recently, philosophers of mind have argued that self-knowledge of past attitudes supervenes on rationality. I examine two kinds of argument for this supervenience claim, one from cognitive dynamics, and one from practical rationality, and reject both. I present an alternative account, on which knowledge of past attitudes is inferential knowledge, and depends upon contingent facts of one’s rationality and consistency. Failures of self-knowledge are better explained by the inferential account
Keywords Diachronic  Epistemology  Inference  Past  Rationality  Self-knowledge  Supervenience
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