About this topic
Summary The issue with armchair knowledge concerns a reductio ad absurdum, designed to show incompatibilism--the view that content externalism precludes apriori knowledge of one's own mental contents. The contention is that, if we had such knowledge under externalism, it would be possible to know apriori contingent facts about the external world. Put briefly, externalist thought experiments would show apriori that possessing the water concept requires the existence of water. And apriori self-knowledge would provide apriori knowledge that you possess the water concept. But given these bits of apriori knowledge, one could then deduce apriori that water exists. Whether this reductio is cogent is what animates the debates here.
Key works The incompatibilst reductio was first advanced by McKinsey 1991, though after a reply from Brueckner 1992, a more nuanced version was formulated by Brown 1995. Boghossian 1997 also propounded a similar version. McLaughlin & Tye 1998 in reply advanced the compatibilist side considerably; their remarks eventually lead to a concession in Brown's landmark book, Brown 2004. Another important compatibilist response denies the transmission of warrant within the reasoning; see especially Davies 2000, Wright 2000 and Wright 2000.
Introductions There are no introductions to the incompatibilist's reductio as such; instead, see the general introductions to the externalism/self-knowledge debates, under the superordinate category "Externalism and Self-Knowledge"
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108 found
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  1. added 2019-01-02
    Authority Without Privilege: How to Be a Dretskean Conciliatory Skeptic on Self-Knowledge.Michael Roche & William Roche - forthcoming - Synthese:1-17.
    Dretske is a “conciliatory skeptic” on self-knowledge. Take some subject S such that (i) S thinks that P and (ii) S knows that she has thoughts. Dretske’s theory can be put as follows: S has a privileged way of knowing what she thinks, but she has no privileged way of knowing that she thinks it. There is much to be said on behalf of conciliatory skepticism (“CS” for short) and Dretske’s defense of it. We aim to show, however, that Dretske’s (...)
  2. added 2018-02-17
    What Anti-Individualists Cannot Know a Priori.Susana Nuccetelli - 1999 - Analysis 59 (1):48-51.
    Note first that knowledge of one's own thought-contents would not count as a priori according to the usual criteria for knowledge of this kind. Surely, then, incompatibilists are using this term to refer to some other, stipulatively defined, epistemic property. But could this be, as suggested by McKinsey { 1 99 1: 9), the property of being knowable 'just by thinking' or 'from the armchair'? Certainly not if these were metaphors for knowledge attainable on the basis of reason alone, since (...)
  3. added 2017-10-14
    Review of The New Science of the Mind by Marc Rowlands (2013).Michael Starks - 2017 - Philosophy, Human Nature and the Collapse of Civilization Michael Starks 3rd Ed. (2017).
    Before remarking on “The New Science of the Mind”, I first offer some comments on philosophy and its relationship to contemporary psychological research as exemplified in the works of Searle (S),Wittgenstein (W), Hacker (H) et al. It will help to see my reviews of PNC (Philosophy in a New Century), TLP, PI, OC, Making the Social World (MSW) and other books by and about these geniuses, who provide a clear description of higher order behavior, not found in psychology nor philosophy, (...)
  4. added 2017-02-27
    Lessons of World-Switching Cases.Sanford Goldberg - 2005 - Philosophia 32 (1-4):93-129.
  5. added 2016-12-08
    Semantic Externalism.Jesper Kallestrup - 2011 - Routledge.
    Semantic externalism is the view that the meanings of referring terms, and the contents of beliefs that are expressed by those terms, are not fully determined by factors internal to the speaker but are instead bound up with the environment. The debate about semantic externalism is one of the most important but difficult topics in philosophy of mind and language, and has consequences for our understanding of the role of social institutions and the physical environment in constituting language and the (...)
  6. added 2016-12-08
    The Discrimination Argument Revisited.Simon Dierig - 2010 - Erkenntnis 72 (1):73-92.
    The first explicit argument for the incompatibility of externalism in the philosophy of mind and a priori self-knowledge is Boghossian’s discrimination argument. In this essay, I oppose the third premise of this argument, trying to show by means of a thought experiment that possessing the “twater thought” is not an alternative, a fortiori not a relevant alternative, to having the “water thought.” I then examine a modified version of Boghossian’s argument. The attempt is made to substantiate the claim that the (...)
  7. added 2016-12-08
    Brewer on the McKinsey Problem.A. Brueckner - 2004 - Analysis 64 (1):41-43.
  8. added 2016-12-08
    Sufficient Absences.S. Sawyer - 2003 - Analysis 63 (3):202-208.
  9. added 2016-12-08
    Do We Know How We Know Our Own Minds Yet?Pierre Jacob - 2003 - In Richard Schantz (ed.), The Externalist Challenge. De Gruyter.
    In traditional epistemology, psychological self-knowledge is taken to be the paradigm of privleged a priori knowledge. According to an influential incompatibilist line of thought, traditional epistemic features attributed to psychological self-knowledge are supposed to be inconsistent with content externalism. In this paper, I examine one prominent compatibilist response by an advocate of content externalism, i.e., Fred Dretske's answer tot he incompatibilist argument, based on the model of displaced perceptual knowledge. I discuss the costs and benefits of his answer.
  10. added 2016-12-08
    Boghossian on Externalism and Privileged Access.J. Brown - 1999 - Analysis 59 (1):52-59.
    Boghossian has argued that Putnam's externalism is incompatible with privileged access, i.e., the claim that a subject can have nonempirical knowledge of her thought contents ('What the externalist can know a priori', PAS 1997). Boghossian's argument assumes that Oscar can know a priori that (1) 'water' aims to name a natural kind; and (2) 'water' expresses an atomic concept. However, I show that if Burge's externalism is correct, then these assumptions may well be false. This leaves Boghossian with two options: (...)
  11. added 2016-12-08
    Externalism and Self-Knowledge.Peter Ludlow & Norah Martin (eds.) - 1998 - Center for the Study of Language and Inf.
    One of the most provocative projects in recent analytic philosophy has been the development of the doctrine of externalism, or, as it is often called, anti-individualism. While there is no agreement as to whether externalism is true or not, a number of recent investigations have begun to explore the question of what follows if it is true. One of the most interesting of these investigations thus far has been the question of whether externalism has consequences for the doctrine that we (...)
  12. added 2016-12-08
    A Challenge to Boghossian's Incompatibilist Argument.Josep E. Corbi - 1998 - Philosophical Issues 9:231-242.
  13. added 2015-04-13
    Twin Earth Thought Experiments.Bryan Frances - 1998
  14. added 2014-11-28
    Slow Switching and Authority of Self-Knowledge.Hamed Bikaraan-Behesht - 2012 - Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences 32:443-449.
    Based on content externalism, the question of whether self-knowledge is authoritative or not has launched a real controversy in the philosophy of mind. Boghossian proposed slow switching argument in defense of incompatibility of the two views. This argument has been criticized by some philosophers through different approaches. Vahid is one of them. He claimed that Boghossian's argument appeals to some controversial assumptions without which it cannot achieve its conclusion. In this article, I criticize Vahid's response to slow switching argument and (...)
  15. added 2014-09-06
    Content Externalism and Equivocal Inference.T. Parent - manuscript
  16. added 2014-04-02
    The Solution to the Consequence Problem According to Anti‐Individualism.Frank Barel - 2014 - European Journal of Philosophy 22 (1):20-33.
    : For quite some time now there has been an ongoing debate whether authoritative self-knowledge is compatible with anti-individualism.1 One influential line of argument against compatibilism is due to Paul Boghossian (1998). I argue that Boghossian misconstrues what the anti-individualist really is committed to. This defence of compatibilism is elaborated by showing how the Twin Earth thought experiment is meant to speak in favour of anti-individualism. Partly this will show that Boghossian is wrong in his denial that empirical background knowledge (...)
  17. added 2014-04-02
    Knowing the World and Knowing Our Minds.Ted A. Warfield - 1995 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 55 (3):525-545.
  18. added 2014-03-31
    What the Externalist Can Know "a Priori".Paul A. Boghossian - 1998 - Philosophical Issues 9:197-211.
    Controversy continues to attach to the question whether an externalism about mental content is compatible with a traditional doctrine of privileged self-knowledge. By an externalism about mental content, I mean the view that what concepts our thoughts involve may depend not only on facts that are internal to us, but on facts about our environment. It is worth emphasizing, if only because it is still occasionally misperceived, that this thesis is supposed to apply at the level of sense and not (...)
  19. added 2014-03-31
    What the Externalist Can Know A Priori.Paul A. Boghossian - 1997 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 97 (2):161-75.
    Controversy continues to attach to the question whether an externalism about mental content is compatible with a traditional doctrine of privileged self-knowledge. By an externalism about mental content, I mean the view that what concepts our thoughts involve may depend not only on facts that are internal to us, but on facts about our environment. It is worth emphasizing, if only because it is still occasionally misperceived, that this thesis is supposed to apply at the level of sense and not (...)
  20. added 2014-03-30
    Is There a Good Epistemological Argument Against Concept-Externalism.Brian Loar - 1998 - Philosophical Issues 9:213-217.
  21. added 2014-03-30
    Replies to Commentators.Paul A. Boghossian - 1998 - Philosophical Issues 9:253-260.
  22. added 2014-03-30
    Self-Knowledge and Semantic Luck.Stephen Yablo - 1998 - Philosophical Issues 9:219-229.
  23. added 2014-03-30
    Boghossian's Reduction of Compatibilism.Carlos J. Moya - 1998 - Philosophical Issues 9:243-251.
  24. added 2014-03-29
    Is Content-Externalism Compatible with Privileged Access?Brian P. McLaughlin & Michael Tye - 1998 - Philosophical Review 107 (3):349-380.
  25. added 2014-03-28
    Boghossian on Empty Natural Kind Concepts.Tom Stoneham - 1999 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 99 (1):119-22.
    Paul Boghossian has argued that Externalism is incompatible with privileged self-knowledge because (i) the Externalist can cite no property to be the reference of an empty natural kind concept such as the ether; (ii) without reference there is no content; hence (iii) either we do know on the basis of introspection alone whether an apparent natural kind thought has content or not, in which case we can infer from self-knowledge and a priori knowledge of Externalism alone to the existence in (...)
  26. added 2014-03-27
    Cogency and Question-Begging: Some Reflections on McKinsey's Paradox and Putnam's Proof.C. J. G. Wright - 2000 - Philosophical Issues 10 (1):140-63.
  27. added 2014-03-26
    Book Review. Knowing Our Own Minds Crispin Wright, Barry Smith, Cynthia MacDonald. [REVIEW]Jessica Brown - 2001 - Mind 110 (438):586-588.
  28. added 2014-03-26
    Problems for Semantic Externalism and A Priori Refutations of Skeptical Arguments.Keith Butler - 2000 - Dialectica 54 (1):29-49.
    SummaryA familiar sort of argument for skepticism about the external world appeals to the evidential similarity between what is presumed to be the normal case and the case where one is a brain in a vat . An argument from Putnam has been taken by many to provide an a priori refutation of this sort of skeptical argument. The question I propose to address in this paper is whether Putnam's argument affords us an a priori refutation of skeptical arguments that (...)
  29. added 2014-03-23
    McDowell on Reasons, Externalism and Scepticism.Duncan Pritchard - 2003 - European Journal of Philosophy 11 (3):273-294.
    At the very least, externalists about content will accept something like the following claim.
  30. added 2014-03-23
    Knowing the World by Knowing One's Mind.Sven Bernecker - 2000 - Synthese 123 (1):1-34.
    This paper addresses the question whether introspection plus externalism about mental content warrant an a priori refutation of external-world skepticism and ontological solipsism. The suggestion is that if thought content is partly determined by affairs in the environment and if we can have non-empirical knowledge of our current thought contents, we can, just by reflection, know about the world around us -- we can know that our environment is populated with content-determining entities. After examining this type of transcendental argument and (...)
  31. added 2014-03-22
    Privileged Access to the World.Sarah Sawyer - 1998 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 76 (4):523-533.
  32. added 2014-03-21
    Externalism and Self-Knowledge: A Puzzle in Two Dimensions.Jordi Fernandez - 2004 - European Journal of Philosophy 12 (1):17-37.
    The definitive version is available at www.blackwell-synergy.com.
  33. added 2014-03-21
    McKinsey Paradoxes, Radical Skepticism, and the Transmission of Knowledge Across Known Entailments.Duncan Pritchard - 2002 - Synthese 130 (2):279-302.
    A great deal of discussion in the recent literature has been devoted to the so-called 'McKinsey' paradox which purports to show that semantic externalism is incompatible with the sort of authoritative knowledge that we take ourselves to have of our own thought contents. In this paper I examine one influential epistemological response to this paradox which is due to Crispin Wright and Martin Davies. I argue that it fails to meet the challenge posed by McKinsey but that, if it is (...)
  34. added 2014-03-20
    Self-Knowledge, Externalism, and Skepticism,I.Brian P. McLaughlin - 2000 - Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 74 (1):93–118.
    [Brian P. McLaughlin] In recent years, some philosophers have claimed that we can know a priori that certain external world skeptical hypotheses are false on the basis of a priori knowledge that we are in certain kinds of mental states, and a priori knowledge that those mental states are individuated by contingent environmental factors. Appealing to a distinction between weak and strong a priority, I argue that weakly a priori arguments of this sort would beg the question of whether the (...)
  35. added 2014-03-19
    A Priori Knowledge of the World Not Easily Available.Anthony L. Brueckner - 2001 - Philosophical Studies 104 (1):109-114.
  36. added 2014-03-18
    Externalism and A Priori Knowledge of the World: Why Privileged Access is Not the Issue.Maria Lasonen-Aarnio - 2006 - Dialectica 60 (4):433-445.
    I look at incompatibilist arguments aimed at showing that the conjunction of the thesis that a subject has privileged, a priori access to the contents of her own thoughts, on the one hand, and of semantic externalism, on the other, lead to a putatively absurd conclusion, namely, a priori knowledge of the external world. I focus on arguments involving a variety of externalism resulting from the singularity or object-dependence of certain terms such as the demonstrative ‘that’. McKinsey argues that incompatibilist (...)
  37. added 2014-03-18
    Direct Reference and Logical Truth: A Reply to Lasonen-Aarnio.Michael McKinsey - 2006 - Dialectica 60 (4):447-451.
  38. added 2014-03-17
    Externalism, Apriority and Transmission of Warrant.Sarah Sawyer - 2006 - In Tomáš Marvan (ed.), What Determines Content?: The Internalism/Externalism Dispute. Cambridge Scholars Press.
  39. added 2014-03-17
    What Determines Content?: The Internalism/Externalism Dispute.Tomáš Marvan (ed.) - 2006 - Cambridge Scholars Press.
  40. added 2014-03-14
    Anti-Individualism, Conceptual Omniscience, and Skepticism.Sanford C. Goldberg - 2003 - Philosophical Studies 116 (1):53-78.
    Given anti-individualism, a subject might have a priori (non-empirical)knowledge that she herself is thinking that p, have complete and exhaustive explicational knowledge of all of the concepts composing the content that p, and yet still need empirical information (e.g. regarding her embedding conditions and history) prior to being in a position to apply her exhaustive conceptual knowledge in a knowledgeable way to the thought that p. This result should be welcomed by anti-individualists: it squares with everything that compatibilist-minded anti-individualists have (...)
  41. added 2014-03-13
    Wright on the McKinsey Problem.Anthony Brueckner - 2008 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 76 (2):385-391.
    The McKinsey Problem concerns a puzzling implication of the doctrines of Content Externalism and Privileged Access. I provide a categorization of possible solutions to the problem. Then I discuss Crispin Wright’s work on the problem. I argue that Wright has misconceived the status of his own proferred solution to the problem.
  42. added 2014-03-12
    Why the Externalist is Better Off Without Free Logic: A Reply to McKinsey.Maria Lasonen-Aarnio - 2008 - Dialectica 62 (4):535-540.
    McKinsey-style incompatibilist arguments attempt to show that the thesis that subjects have privileged, a priori access to the contents of their thoughts is incompatible with semantic externalism. This incompatibility follows – it is urged – from the fact that these theses jointly entail an absurd conclusion, namely, the possibility of a priori knowledge of the world. In a recent paper I argued that a large and important class of such arguments exemplifies a dialectical failure: if they are valid, the putatively (...)
  43. added 2014-03-09
    Anti-Individualism and Knowledge.Jessica Brown - 2004 - MIT Press.
  44. added 2014-03-09
    New Essays on Semantic Externalism and Self-Knowledge.Susana Nuccetelli (ed.) - 2003 - MIT Press.
  45. added 2014-03-07
    Review of Anti-Individualism and Knowledge. [REVIEW]Benjamin A. Gorman - 2005 - Essays in Philosophy 6 (1):10.
  46. added 2014-03-06
    What Externalists Should Say About Dry Earth.Daniel Z. Korman - 2006 - Journal of Philosophy 103 (10):503-520.
    Dry earth seems to its inhabitants (our intrinsic duplicates) just as earth seems to us, that is, it seems to them as though there are rivers and lakes and a clear, odorless liquid flowing from their faucets. But, in fact, this is an illusion; there is no such liquid anywhere on the planet. I address two objections to externalism concerning the nature of the concept that is expressed by the word 'water' in the mouths of the inhabitants of dry earth. (...)
  47. added 2013-11-19
    Transmission of Justification and Warrant.Luca Moretti & Tommaso Piazza - 2013 - The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
    Transmission of justification across inference is a valuable and indeed ubiquitous epistemic phenomenon in everyday life and science. It is thanks to the phenomenon of epistemic transmission that inferential reasoning is a means for substantiating predictions of future events and, more generally, for expanding the sphere of our justified beliefs or reinforcing the justification of beliefs that we already entertain. However, transmission of justification is not without exceptions. As a few epistemologists have come to realise, more or less trivial forms (...)
  48. added 2013-01-25
    Knowing That One Knows What One is Talking About.Susana Nuccetelli - 2003 - In New Essays on Semantic Externalism and Self-Knowledge. MIT Press. pp. 169--184.
    Twin-earth thought experiments, standardly construed, support the externalist doctrine that the content of propositional attitudes involving natural-kind terms supervenes upon properties external to those who entertain them. But this doctrine in conjunction with a common view of self-knowledge might have the intolerable consequence that substantial propositions concerning the environment could be knowable a priori. Since both doctrines, externalism and privileged self-knowledge, appear independently plausible, there is then a paradox facing the attempt to hold them concurrently. I shall argue, however, that (...)
  49. added 2012-10-10
    "Reference" Externalized and the Role of Intuitions in Semantic Theory.Herman Cappelen & Douglas G. Winblad - 1999 - American Philosophical Quarterly 36 (4):337-50.
    In this paper, we consider the bearing intuitions have on semantic theory, and suggest that when the phenomenon is properly understood, they are less important than philosophers tend to think. We also argue that our conclusions go beyond intuitions about semantics, and impugn the idea of intuition more generally.
  50. added 2012-08-22
    Content and Justification: Philosophical Papers.Paul A. Boghossian - 2008 - Oxford University Press.
    This volume presents a series of influential essays by Paul Boghossian on the theory of content and on its relation to the phenomenon of a priori knowledge. The essays are organized under four headings: the nature of content; content and self-knowledge; knowledge, content, and the a priori; and colour concepts.
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