Self-Knowledge and Knowledge of Content

Canadian Journal of Philosophy 38 (3):399-424 (2008)
The question of whether content externalism poses a threat to the traditional view of self-knowledge has been much debated. Compatibilists have tried to diffuse the threat by appealing to the self-verifying character of reflexive judgments about our own thoughts, while incompatibilists have strenuously objected that this does not suffice. In my paper I argue that this debate is fundamentally misconceived since it is based, on both sides, on the problematic notion of ‘knowledge of content’. What this shows, I argue, is not that content externalism is unobjectionable, but that the real challenge to content externalism is not an epistemological one. The real difficulty concerns the content externalist’s seemingly necessary commitment to the idea that individuals have an incomplete grasp of the concepts that go into their own thoughts. This idea poses a threat not to self-knowledge, I argue, but rather to our first- and second-order reasoning abilities.
Keywords externalism, self-knowledge, Burge, incomplete understanding, rationality
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1353/cjp.0.0024
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
Download options
PhilPapers Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 22,734
External links
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA
Tyler Burge (1979). Individualism and the Mental. Midwest Studies in Philosophy 4 (1):73-122.
Donald Davidson (1987). Knowing One's Own Mind. Proceedings and Addresses of the American Philosophical Association 60 (3):441-458.
Tyler Burge (1988). Individualism and Self-Knowledge. Journal of Philosophy 85 (November):649-63.
Paul Boghossian (1989). Content and Self-Knowledge. Philosophical Topics 17 (1):5-26.

View all 35 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

132 ( #30,927 of 1,937,489 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

23 ( #20,993 of 1,937,489 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

Start a new thread
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.