Self-knowledge, normativity, and construction

In Anthony O'Hear (ed.), Logic, Thought, and Language. Cambridge University Press. 37-55 (2002)
Abstract
1. Much of modern and contemporary philosophy of mind in the ‘analytic’ tradition has presupposed, since Descartes, what might be called a realist view about the mind and the mental. According to this view there are independently existing, determinate items (states, events, dispositions or relations) that are the truth-conferrers of our ascriptions of mental predicates.[1] The view is also a cognitivist one insofar as it holds that when we correctly ascribe such a predicate to an individual the correctness consists in the discovery of a determinate fact of the matter about the state the individual is in ( a state which is somehow cognized by the ascriber. Disputes have arisen about the nature of the truth-conferrers (e.g., whether they are physical or not) and about the status and the nature of the individual’s own authority about the state he is in. A dissenting position in philosophy of mind would have to be handled carefully. It would, most importantly, need to allow for the objectivity of ascriptions of mental predicates at least insofar as it made sense to reject some and accept others on appropriate grounds. Perhaps such a position in the philosophy of mind can be likened in at least one way to what David Wiggins has characterised as a doctrine of ‘cognitive underdetermination’ about moral or practical judgments.[2] In comparing his position of cognitive underdetermination about moral or practical judgments to some things Wittgenstein has said about the philosophy of mathematics, Wiggins suggests that, ‘In the assertibility (or truth) of mathematical statements we see what perhaps we can never see in the assertibility of empirical (such as geographical or historical) statements: the compossibility of objectivity, discovery, and invention.’[3]
Keywords Construction  Epistemology  Logic  Mind  Normativity  Self-knowledge
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