We rely on language to know the minds of others, but does language have a role to play in knowing our own minds? To suppose it does is to look for a connection between mastery of a language and the epistemic relation we bear to our inner lives. What could such a connection consist in? To explore this, I shall examine strategies for explaining self-knowledge in terms of the use we make of language to express and report (...) our mental states. Success in these strategies will depend on the view we take of speakers' understanding of the words they use to speak their minds. The key is to avoid circularity in the account of how they know what they mean; for if knowing what one is saying in speaking a language provides a means of knowing one's own mind, it cannot simply be a part of it. I shall look at ways in which we might proceed here, and examine whether the strategy can make room for a genuinely first-person point of view. But first let me try to motivate the problem of self-knowledge. (shrink)
Knowledge of one's own sensations, desires, intentions, thoughts, beliefs, and other attitudes is characteristically different from other kinds of knowledge: it has greater immediacy, authority, and salience. This volume offers a powerful and comprehensive look at current work on this topic, featuring closely interlinked essays by leading figures in the field that examine philosophical questions raised by the distinctive character of self-knowledge, relating it to knowledge of other minds, to rationality and agency, externalist theories of psychological content, and knowledge (...) of language. (shrink)
This is an anthology of ?fteen papers concerning various philosophical problems related to the topic of self-knowledge. All but one of the papers were previously unpublished, and all but two are descendants of presentations at a conference on self-knowledge held at the University of St Andrews in 1995. The collection.
In this article I offer a naturalistic defence of semantic externalism. I argue against the following: (1) arguments for externalism rest mainly on conceptual analysis; (2) the community conceptual norms relevant to individuation of propositional attitudes are quasi-analytic; (3) externalism raises serious questions about knowledge of propositional attitudes; and (4) externalism might be OK for “folk psychology” but not for cognitive science. The naturalist alternatives are as follows. (1) Community norms are not anything like a priori; sometimes they are incoherent. (...) (2) Often propositional attitudes lack determinate content: we do not know the content of thoughts or sentences because there is no fully definite content to be known. (3) Often achieving determinate content is a major socially mediated cognitive achievement that depends on just the factors of social and environmental embedding posited as individuative by externalists, so (4) externalism explains how people can, sometimes, come to have, and to know, determinate attitude contents. (5) Reference and content, for both thought and language, are determined by complex and messy dialectical relations involving many such environmental and social factors; consequently, determinate reference, truth-conditions, etc., are somewhat uncommon outcomes. (6) The basic semantic relation is (typically imperfect) socially mediated accommodation between perceptual, cognitive, linguistic, classificatory and inferential dispositions and relevant causal structures in the environment. (7) This accommodation explains how concepts, language, taxonomies, etc., contribute to individuals' rational inductive, explanatory and practical achievements. (8) So externally individuated propositional attitudes are required for cognitive science explanations of individual human rationality and its inductive and explanatory achievements. “Individual rationality ain't (entirely) in the individual head.”. (shrink)
In the author's words: "This book is an honest attempt to understand what it means to be educated in today's world." His argument is this: No matter how important science and technology seem to industry or government or indeed to the daily life of people, as a society we believe that those educated in literature, history, and other humanities are in some way better informed, more knowing, and somehow more worthy of the descriptor "well educated." This 19th-century conception of (...) the educated mind weighs heavily on our notions on how we educate our young. When we focus on intellectual and scholarly issues in high school as opposed to issues, such as communications, basic psychology, or child raising, we are continuing to rely on outdated notions of the educated mind that come from elitist notions of who is to be educated and what that means. To accommodate the realities of today's world it is necessary to change these elitist notions. We need to rethink what it means to be educated and begin to focus on a new conception of the very idea of education. Students need to learn how to think, not how to accomplish tasks, such as passing standardized tests and reciting rote facts. In this engaging book, Roger C. Schank sets forth the premises of his argument, cites its foundations in the Great Books themselves, and illustrates it with examples from an experimental curriculum that has been used in graduate schools and with K-12 students. Making Minds Less Well Educated Than Our Own is essential reading for scholars and students in the learning sciences, instructional design, curriculum theory and planning, educational policy, school reform, philosophy of education, higher education, and anyone interested in what it means to be educated in today's world. (shrink)
Our Own Minds presents an account of the nature and development of self-consciousness. Bogdan describes the mind of the infant as outward looking, turning in on itself only at a relatively late stage of development. This it does as a response to the increasingly sophisticated sociocultural pressures it faces throughout infancy and early childhood. The book is difficult to follow (about which, more later) but the main line of argument is this: to begin with, infants are attuned to their (...) physical and sociocultural environment, employing an early form of intuitive psychology, a practical capacity to interact with conspecifics, referred to by Bogdan as 'naïve psychology' (129). However, infants are faced with a series of sociocultural tasks (109-12), the implementation of which requires them to develop various executive capacities (105-9) which 'install' a form of self-consciousness, dubbed by Bogdan 'extrovert self-consciousness' (99-100). The increasingly demanding nature of these sociocultural tasks has the consequence that, around the age of 4, intuitive psychology undergoes a shift, becoming 'commonsense psychology' (129-30). This enables children to represent others' propositional attitudes and to think 'offline' (129-30). These new abilities and associated executive capacities, in their turn, 'install' a new form of self-consciousness, 'introvert self-consciousness' (159). Whilst the child's intuitive psychology and self-consciousness continue to develop until adolescence (33), this is where the book's central argument ends. (shrink)
What is it to “know your own mind”? In ordinary English, this phrase connotes clear headed decisiveness and a firm resolve but in the language of contemporary philosophy, the indecisive and the susceptible can know their own minds just as well as anybody else. In the philosopher’s usage, “knowing your own mind” is just a matter of being able to produce a knowledgeable description of your mental state, whether it be a state of indecision, susceptibility or even confusion. (...) What exercises philosophers is the fact that people seem to produce these descriptions of their own mental lives without any pretence of considering evidence or reasons of any kind and yet these descriptions are treated by the rest of us as authoritative, at least in a wide range of cases. How can this be? (shrink)
Various researchers have suggested that below 7 years of age children do not recognize that they are the authority on knowledge about themselves, a suggestion that seems counter-intuitive because it raises the possibility that children do not appreciate their privileged first-person access to their own minds. Unlike previous research, children in the current investigation quantified knowledge and even 5-year-olds tended to assign relatively more to themselves than to an adult (Studies 1 and 2). Indeed, children's estimations were different from (...) ratings made by their mothers: Their mothers sometimes rated themselves as knowing more about their child than they rated their child as knowing (Study 2). While previous research seemed to suggest that children shift from viewing their mother to viewing themselves as the authority on knowledge about them (the children), these new findings surprisingly suggest the opposite. (shrink)
The notion of simulation in dreaming of threat recognition and avoidance faces difficulties deriving from (1) some typical characteristics of dream artifacts (some “surreal,” some not) and (2) metaphysical issues involving the need for some representation in the theory of a perspective subject making use of the artifact. [Hobson et al.; Revonsuo].
We draw on ancient Greek philosophy and contemporary psychosocial theorists to analyse the ethical implications of social policies implemented through the welfare state with the espoused objective of achieving social inclusion. We argue that many such policies establish a boundary between domains of inclusion and exclusion that perversely maintains the very problem such policies are designed to solve. They then also provide ?rationalisations? for social exclusion which imply that such states can be explained?that they are ethical, and so legitimate. We (...) illustrate our argument with reference to a specific area of social policy?Improving Access to Psychological Therapies?and discuss how it impacts on our own area of practice as state employed psychotherapists. We analyse how this policy frames aspects of social exclusion (un(der)employment?) as a ?psychological? problem: a move that grants the excluded a specific kind of identity and then locates the problem of exclusion in this identity. We invoke Plato's Republic to show how this offer of psychological ?help? subliminally suggests that these mental disorders result from individuals' failures to ?know their place? and to ?mind their own business?, rather than as a consequence of complex networks of social (dis)orders, exclusions and injustices within which we are all embedded. (shrink)
Researchers from the 1940's through the present have found that normal, sighted people can echolocate - that is, detect properties of silent objects by attending to sound reflected from them. We argue that echolocation is a normal part of our conscious, perceptual experience. Despite this, we argue that people are often grossly mistaken about their experience of echolocation. If so, echolocation provides a counterexample to the view that we cannot be seriously mistaken about our own current conscious experience.
An attractive semantic theory presented by Richard K. Larson and Peter Ludlow takes a report of propositional attitudes, e.g 'Tom believes Judy Garland sang', to report a believing relation between Tom and an interpreted logical form constructed from 'Judy Garland sang'. We briefly outline the semantic theory and indicate its attractions. However, the definition of interpreted logical forms given by Larson and Ludlow is shown to be faulty, and an alternative definition is offered which matches their intentions. This definition is (...) then shown to imply that Tom does not know his own mind, a result without intuitive support. A third definition is offered to deal with this problem. (shrink)
This paper addresses a problem about epistemic warrant. The problem is posed by philosophical arguments for externalism about the contents of thoughts, and similarly by philosophical arguments for architecturalism about thinking, when these arguments are put together with a thesis of first person authority. In each case, first personal knowledge about our thoughts plus the kind of knowledge that is provided by a philosophical argument seem, together, to open an unacceptably ‘non-empirical’ route to knowledge of empirical facts. Furthermore, this unwelcome (...) prospect of transferring a ‘non-empirical’ warrant from premises about our own mental states and about philosophical theory to a conclusion about external environment or internal architecture seems to depend upon little more than the possibility of knowledge by inference. (The use of the scare-quoted term ‘non-empirical’ is explained a couple of paragraphs further on.). (shrink)
Knowledge of one's own states of mind is one of the varieties of self-knowledge. Do any nonhuman animals have the capacity for this variety of self-knowledge? The question is open to empirical inquiry, which is most often conducted with primate subjects. Research with a bottlenose dolphin gives some evidence for the capacity in a nonprimate taxon. I describe the research and evaluate the metacognitive interpretation of the dolphin's behaviour. The research exhibits some of the difficulties attached to the task of (...) eliciting behaviour that both attracts a higher-order interpretation while also resisting deflationary, lower-order interpretations. Lloyd Morgan's Canon, which prohibits inflationary interpretations of animal behaviour, has influenced many animal psychologists. There is one defensible version of the Canon, the version that warns specifically against unnecessary intentional ascent. The Canon on this interpretation seems at first to tell against a metacognitive interpretation of the data collected in the dolphin study. However, the model of metacognition that is in play in the dolphin studies is a functional model, one that does not implicate intentional ascent. I explore some interpretations of the dolphin's behaviour as metacognitive, in this sense. While this species of metacognitive interpretation breaks the connection with the more familiar theory of mind research using animal subjects, the interpretation also points in an interesting way towards issues concerning consciousness in dolphins. (shrink)
J. David Velleman casts foreknowledge of one's own next move as psychologically active. As agents, we form prior intentions about what we will do next. Such prior intentions are licensed self-fulfilling beliefs or directive cognitions. These cognitions differ from ordinary predictions in their psychological relation to the evidence, in that they precede that crucial part of the evidence which consists in the fact that they have been formed. However, once formed, these cognitions are epistemologically unremarkable: they are directly justified by (...) evidence, which saliently includes the fact of their own existence. I argue that Velleman distorts both the epistemology and the etiology of self-knowing agency. Self-knowing agents typically know what they will do next non-evidentially, and yet their knowledge of their own next move is formed in response to their (perspective-relative) epistemic grounds. Velleman's account of self-knowing agency is doubly distortive because it ignores the role of the purely first-person point of view which typically characterizes such agency. In developing an alternative account of self-knowing agency, I argue that the kind of knowledge that we typically have of what we are about to do is like the kind of knowledge we have when we non-evidentially know what our own current, conscious propositional thoughts are. We can non-evidentially know what we think in virtue of having made up our minds what to think. Likewise, we can non-evidentially know what we are about to do in virtue of having settled on what to do next. (shrink)
The idea that introspection is transparent—that we know our minds by looking out to the world, not inwards towards some mental item—seems quite appealing when we think about belief. It seems that we know our beliefs by attending to their content; I know that I believe there is a café nearby by thinking about the streets near me, and not by thinking directly about my mind. Such an account is thought to have several advantages—for example, it is thought to (...) avoid the need to posit any extra mental faculties peculiar to introspection. In this paper I discuss recent attempts to extend this kind of outwards-looking account to our introspective knowledge of desire. According to these accounts, we know our desires by attending to what in the world we judge to be valuable. This, however, does not deal satisfactorily with cases where my value judgments and introspective knowledge of my desires come apart. I propose a better alternative for the proponent of transparency, but one that requires giving up on the supposed metaphysical advantages. (shrink)
Carruthers considers and rejects a mixed position according to which we have interpretative access to unconscious thoughts, but introspective access to conscious ones. I argue that this is too hasty. Given a two-level view of the mind, we can, and should, accept the mixed position, and we can do so without positing additional introspective mechanisms beyond those Carruthers already recognizes.
The idea that we have special access to our own mental states has a distinguished philosophical history. Philosophers as different as Descartes and Locke agreed that we know our own minds in a way that is quite different from the way in which we know other minds. In the latter half of the 20th century, however, this idea came under serious attack, first from philosophy (Sellars 1956) and more recently from developmental psychology.1 The attack from developmental psychology arises (...) from the growing body of work on. (shrink)
The idea that we have special access to our own mental states has a distinguished philosophical history. Philosophers as different as Descartes and Locke agreed that we know our own minds in a way that is quite different from the way in which we know other minds. In the latter half of the 20th century, however, this idea came under serious attack, first from philosophy (Sellars 1956) and more recently from developmental psychology.1 The attack from developmental psychology arises (...) from the growing body of work on “mindreading”, the process of attributing mental states to people (and other organisms). During the last 15 years, the processes underlying mindreading have been a major focus of attention in cognitive and developmental psychology. Most of this work has been concerned with the processes underlying the attribution of mental states to other people. However, a number of psychologists and philosophers have also proposed accounts of the mechanisms underlying the attribution of mental states to oneself. This process of reading one’s own mind or becoming self-aware will be our primary concern in this paper. (shrink)
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. (shrink)
It is sometimes suggested that Berkeley adheres to an empirical criterion of meaning, on which a term is meaningful just in case it signifies an idea (i.e., an immediate object of perceptual experience). This criterion is thought to underlie his rejection of the term ‘matter’ as meaningless. As is well known, Berkeley thinks that it is impossible to perceive matter. If one cannot perceive matter, then, per Berkeley, one can have no idea of it; if one can have no idea (...) of it, then one cannot speak meaningfully of it. But if this is Berkeley’s position, then there is a puzzle, because Berkeley also explicitly claims that it is impossible to perceive/have ideas of minds. So if he is relying on a criterion on which terms get their meaning by referring to ideas, then, just as Berkeley rejects talk of material substance, so, too, must he reject talk of mental substance. Famously, however, Berkeley insists that there is no parity between the cases of material and mental substance. It is typically suggested that the disparity between matter and minds rests on the fact that although one cannot strictly speaking perceive minds, nonetheless Berkeley thinks that one can have experiential access to minds via reflection, and that this access allows for meaningful talk of minds. Of course, one can only have reflective experience of one’s own mind. But what of other minds, which one cannot reflectively experience? Here the usual tactic is to suppose that, although one cannot have direct reflective experience of other minds, nonetheless one can indirectly experience such minds via analogy to our own minds, and that this indirect experience grounds the meaningfulness of talk of other minds. In this paper, I argue that the reasoning behind Berkeley’s ‘likeness principle,’ that an idea can only be like another idea, can be generalized to argue against this experience-based account of our access to other minds. I claim instead that Berkeley allows for the meaningfulness of talk of other minds by expanding the criterion of meaning in a different way. I argue that Berkeley holds a criterion of meaning on which a term is meaningful just in case it signifies either an object of experience or an object that one has reason to posit on the basis of experience, i.e., an object that is necessary to explain our experiences. When an object is neither experienced nor explains our experiences, then and only then is Berkeley willing to reject it as meaningless. Thus he writes of “the word matter,” that “it is no matter whether there is such a thing or no, since it no way concerns us: and I do not see the advantage there is in disputing about we know not what, and we know not why” (Principles, §77.) The word is not meaningless merely because we do not know what matter might be; it is meaningless because we also do not know why it should be. Correspondingly, I argue that the term ‘mind’ is meaningful because although we have no experience of minds, nonetheless they play an important role in explaining our experiences. (shrink)
Dennett argues that we can be mistaken about our own conscious experience. Despite this, he repeatedly asserts that we can or do have unchallengeable authority of some sort in our reports about that experience. This assertion takes three forms. First, Dennett compares our authority to the authority of an author over his fictional world. Unfortunately, that appears to involve denying that there are actual facts about experience that subjects may be truly or falsely reporting. Second, Dennett sometimes seems to say (...) that even though we may be mistaken about what our conscious experience is, our reports about. (shrink)
Roth claims that in constituting the sorts of events they want to connect, historians conceive matters that may not correlate with any inventory of elements eligible for admission by natural science. Given “the liabilities incurred by the very questions historians choose to ask,” the question of historical explanation is a problem of our own making. “Previous challenges to the epistemic legitimacy of historical explanations lose their point,” for no one can ask what kind of science or what kind of explanation (...) history is, since it is none! This is, unsurprisingly, an unacceptable outcome for me. A case can be made for intersubjective assertability of a historical interpretation and the contestation of it - however tentatively, fallibly, partially - without a complete collapse into the aesthetics of form or the politics of the formulator. The task of the philosophy of history is to work out the reconciliation of the performative with the constative in historical writing and in historical appraisal. (shrink)
This paper looks at the attribution of moral responsibility in the light of Kant's claim that the maxims of our actions should be universalizable. Assuming that it is often difficult for us to judge which actions satisfy this test, it suggests one way of translating Kantian morality into practice. Suppose that it is possible to read each action, via its maxim, as a communication addressed to the world: as an attempt to set the terms on which we should interact with (...) one another. The paper suggests that respect for the actor requires us to take this communication seriously. When we suppose that an action is wrong, we then have a powerful reason to dispute its message: to hold the actor responsible for her deed. Although we are often unreliable judges ‘in our own case’, our mutual attributions of responsibility show us judging together, what the moral law should mean in practice. (shrink)
Dennett argues that we can be mistaken about our own conscious experience. Despite this, he repeatedly asserts that we can or do have unchallengeable authority of some sort in our reports about that experience. This assertion takes three forms. First, Dennett compares our authority to the authority of an author over his fictional world. Unfortunately, that appears to involve denying that there are actual facts about experience that subjects may be truly or falsely reporting. Second, Dennett sometimes seems to say (...) that even though we may be mistaken about what our conscious experience is, our reports about “what it’s like to be us” must be correct. That view unfortunately requires a nonstandard and unremarked distinction between facts about consciousness and facts about “what it’s like.” Third, Dennett says that reports about experience may be “incorrigible.” However, that claim stands in tension with evidence, highlighted by Dennett himself, that seems to suggest that people can be demonstrably mistaken about their own experience. Dennett needlessly muddies his case against infallibilism with these unsatisfactory compromises. (shrink)
Explaining the mind by building machines with minds runs into the other-minds problem: How can we tell whether any body other than our own has a mind when the only way to know is by being the other body? In practice we all use some form of Turing Test: If it can do everything a body with a mind can do such that we can't tell them apart, we have no basis for doubting it has a mind. But (...) what is "everything" a body with a mind can do? Turing's original "pen-pal" version (the TT) only tested linguistic capacity, but Searle has shown that a mindless symbol-manipulator could pass the TT undetected. The Total Turing Test (TTT) calls for all of our linguistic and robotic capacities; immune to Searle's argument, it suggests how to ground a symbol manipulating system in the capacity to pick out the objects its symbols refer to. No Turing Test, however, can guarantee that a body has a mind. Worse, nothing in the explanation of its successful performance requires a model to have a mind at all. Minds are hence very different from the unobservables of physics (e.g., superstrings); and Turing Testing, though essential for machine-modeling the mind, can really only yield an explanation of the body. (shrink)