Externalism and Authoritative Self-Knowledge

In C. Wright, B. Smith & C. Macdonald (eds.), Knowing Our Own Minds. Oxford University Press 123-155 (1998)
Externalism in the philosophy of mind has been thought by many to pose a serious threat to the claim that subjects are in general authoritative with regard to certain of their own intentional states.<sup>1</sup> In a series of papers, Tyler Burge (1985_a_, 1985_b_, 1988, 1996) has argued that the distinctive entitlement or right that subjects have to self- knowledge in certain cases is compatible with externalism, since that entitlement is environmentally neutral, neutral with respect to the issue of the individuation dependence of subjects' intentional states on factors beyond their bodies. His reason is that whereas externalism—the view that certain intentional states of persons are individuation-dependent on objects and/or phenomena external to their bodies—is a metaphysical thesis, authoritative self-knowledge is an epistemological matter. This being so, there is no reason to suppose that the two need conflict with one another
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