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Summary The slow-switching thought experiment purports to show incompatibilism, viz., that content externalism is incompatible with introspective knowledge of one's own mental contents. The thought experiment starts by imagining that Oscar is unwittingly switched from his home on Earth to Twin Earth. Since Twin Earth is superficially indiscernible from Earth, Oscar continues to be unaware of the switch as time goes on. The intuition is that Oscar's use of the term 'water' (and the concept it expresses) will still denote H2O immediately after the switch. But externalists often say  that over time, Oscar's term/concept will come to denote XYZ instead. (The switch is thus a "slow" one.) Since externalists think such concepts have their contents determined partly by the kind in the environment, this means Oscar's term/concept will host a different content. And apparently, the switch in content cannot be detected by Oscar just by introspection. This result is thought to support the incompatibilist conclusion.
Key works The slow switch experiment originates in Burge 1988, though it was first defended as an incompatibilist argument by Boghossian 1989. Falvey & Owens 1994 were among the first compatibilists to reply, though a notable a skirmish arose early on between Warfield 1992, Warfield 1997 and Ludlow 1995, Ludlow 1997, concerning a "relevant alternatives" epistemology. Ludlow 1995 and Ludlow 1995 are also notable for developing a different reply to the argument, based on a surprising view about memory. But see Heal 1998 for an important critical discussion. Another notable skirmish was between Ebbs and Brueckner on whether the argument was self-undermining; the relevant papers are now conveniently collected in Brueckner & Ebbs 2012. Finally, some have suggested that the argument rests on an over-intellectualized conception of self-knowledge; see especially Bar-On 2004 and Bar-On 2008.
Introductions There are no introductions to slow switch arguments 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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123 found
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  1. added 2020-06-03
    Self-Knowledge, Externalism, and Skepticism.Brian Mclaughlin & David Owens - 2000 - Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 74 (74):93-142.
    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 skeptical hypothesis under (...)
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  2. added 2020-06-03
    Externalism and Memory.Michael Tye & Jane Heal - 1998 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, Supplementary Volumes( 72 (72):77-109.
    [Michael Tye] Externalism about thought contents has received enormous attention in the philosophical literature over the past fifteen years or so, and it is now the established view. There has been very little discussion, however, of whether memory contents are themselves susceptible to an externalist treatment. In this paper, I argue that anyone who is sympathetic to Twin Earth thought experiments for externalism with respect to certain thoughts should endorse externalism with respect to certain memories. /// [Jane Heal] Tye claims (...)
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  3. added 2020-06-03
    Externalism and Memory: Jane Heal.Jane Heal - 1998 - Supplement to the Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 72 (1):95-110.
    [Michael Tye] Externalism about thought contents has received enormous attention in the philosophical literature over the past fifteen years or so, and it is now the established view. There has been very little discussion, however, of whether memory contents are themselves susceptible to an externalist treatment. In this paper, I argue that anyone who is sympathetic to Twin Earth thought experiments for externalism with respect to certain thoughts should endorse externalism with respect to certain memories. /// [Jane Heal] Tye claims (...)
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  4. added 2019-06-06
    On Knowing Our Own Minds.Michael McKinsey - 2002 - Philosophical Quarterly 52 (206):107-116.
    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.
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  5. added 2019-06-06
    Externalism and Self-Knowledge. [REVIEW]Klaas J. Kraay - 2002 - Dialogue 41 (1):177-179.
    This collection contains twenty-one selections on various issues central to the problem of externalism and privileged self-knowledge. The problem these papers address is best characterized as follows. Externalism is the doctrine that the individuation of mental content depends in part on physical or social factors. While this position is extremely plausible, it unfortunately appears to undermine the equally plausible view that individuals have some kind of privileged access to their own mental states. After all, if mental content is determined in (...)
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  6. added 2019-06-06
    Is Self-Knowledge Compatible with Externalism?Pierre Jacob - 2001 - Mind and Society 2 (1):59-75.
    Externalism is the view that the contents of many of a person’s propositional attitudes and perhaps sensory experiences are extrinsic properties of the person’s brain: they involve relations between the person’s brain and properties instantiated in his or her present or past environment. Privileged self-knowledge is the view that every human being is able to know directly or non-inferentially, in a way unavailable to anybody else, what he or she thinks or experiences. Now, if what I think is not in (...)
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  7. added 2019-06-06
    VI Reliabilism, Knowledge, and Mental Content.J. Brown - 2000 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 100:115-136.
    I consider whether one particular anti-individualist claim, the doctrine of object-dependent thoughts (DODT), is compatible with the Principle of Privileged Access, or PPA, which states that, in general, a subject can have non-empirical knowledge of her thought contents. The standard defence of the compatibility of anti-individualism and PPA emphasises the reliability of the process which produces a subject's second order beliefs about her thought contents. I examine whether this defence can be applied to DODT, given that DODT generates the possibility (...)
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  8. added 2019-06-06
    Brute Error With Respect to Content.William S. Larkin - 1999 - Philosophical Studies 94 (1):159-171.
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  9. added 2019-06-06
    First Person Authority, Externalism, and Wh‐Knowledge.Jonathan Berg - 1998 - Dialectica 52 (1):41-44.
    SummaryThe apparent conflict between first person authority and externalism arises only from needlessly thinking of first person authority in terms of “knowing what.”.
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  10. added 2019-04-26
    Semantic Externalism. [REVIEW]Ricardo Miguel & Diogo Santos - 2016 - Disputatio 8 (42):131-137.
  11. added 2019-03-01
    In Defence of Burge's Thesis.Sarah Sawyer - 2002 - Philosophical Studies 107 (2):109-128.
    Burge's thesis is the thesis that certain second-order self-ascriptions are self-verifying in virtue of their self-referential form. The thesis has recently come under attack on the grounds that it does not yield a theory of self-knowledge consistent with semantic externalism, and also on the grounds that it is false. In this paper I defend Burge's thesis against both charges, in particular against the arguments of Bernecker, Gallois and Goldberg. The alleged counterexamples they provide are merely apparent counterexamples, and the thesis (...)
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  12. added 2019-03-01
    An Externalist Account of Introspective Knowledge.Sarah Sawyer - 1999 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 80 (4):358-378.
    The Content Skeptic argues that a subject could not have introspective knowledge of a thought whose content is individuated widely. This claim is incorrect, relying on the tacit assumption that introspective knowledge differs significantly from other species of knowledge. The paper proposes a reliabilist model for understanding introspective knowledge according to which introspective knowledge is simply another species of knowledge, and according to which claims to introspective knowledge are not, as suggested by the Content Skeptic, defeated by the mere possibility (...)
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  13. added 2018-11-02
    Externalism and Knowledge of Content.John Gibbons - 1996 - Philosophical Review 105 (3):287.
    If the contents of our thoughts are partly determined by facts outside our heads, can we still know those contents directly, without investigating our environment? What if we were surreptitiously switched to Twin-Earth? Would we know the contents of our thoughts under these unusual circumstances? By looking carefully at what determines the content of a second-order thought, a candidate for self-knowledge, the paper argues that we can know the contents of our thoughts directly, even after being switched. Learning about the (...)
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  14. added 2018-02-18
    Why Scepticism About Self-Knowledge is Self-Undermining.Gary Ebbs - 2005 - Analysis 65 (3):237-244.
    In two previous papers I explained why I believe that a certain sort of argument that seems to support skepticism about self-knowledge is actually self-undermining, in the sense that no one can justifiably accept all of its premises at once. Anthony Brueckner has recently tried to show that even if the central premises of my explanation are true, the skeptical argument in question is not self-undermining. He has also suggested that even if the skeptical argument is self-undermining, it can still (...)
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  15. added 2018-02-17
    Unsafe Reasoning: A Survey.Paulo Faria - 2009 - Dois Pontos 6 (2):185-20.
    Judgments about the validity of at least some elementary inferential patterns (say modus ponens) are a priori if anything is. Yet a number of empirical conditions must in each case be satisfied in order for a particular inference to instantiate this or that inferential pattern. We may on occasion be entitled to presuppose that such conditions are satisfied (and the entitlement may even be a priori), yet only experience could tell us that such was indeed the case. Current discussion about (...)
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  16. added 2018-02-16
    The Problem Of Self-Knowledge.Karsten R. Stueber - 2002 - Erkenntnis 56 (3):269-296.
    This article develops a constitutive account of self-knowledge that is able to avoid certain shortcomings of the standard response to the perceived prima facie incompatibility between privileged self-knowledge and externalism. It argues that if one conceives of linguistic action as voluntary behavior in a minimal sense, one cannot conceive of belief content to be externalistically constituted without simultaneously assuming that the agent has knowledge of his beliefs. Accepting such a constitutive account of self-knowledge does not, however, preclude the conceptual possibility (...)
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  17. added 2017-02-27
    Lessons of World-Switching Cases.Sanford Goldberg - 2005 - Philosophia 32 (1-4):93-129.
  18. 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 (...)
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  19. 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 (...)
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  20. added 2016-12-08
    Introspective Self-Knowledge and Reasoning: An Externalist Guide.Thomas Grundmann - 2009 - Erkenntnis 71 (1):89-105.
    According to the received view, externalist grounds or reasons need not be introspectively accessible. Roughly speaking, from an externalist point of view, a belief will be epistemically justified, iff it is based upon facts that make its truth objectively highly likely. This condition can be satisfied, even if the epistemic agent does not have actual or potential awareness of the justifying facts. No inner perspective on the belief-forming mechanism and its truth-ratio is needed for a belief to be justified. In (...)
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  21. added 2016-12-08
    The Coherence of Scepticism About Self-Knowledge.A. Brueckner - 2003 - Analysis 63 (1):41-48.
  22. 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 (...)
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  23. added 2016-07-21
    O problema da autenticidade do conhecimento: uma breve apresentação.César Schirmer dos Santos - 2016 - Sképsis 9 (13):85-103.
    Minha proposta, nesta introdução a “Autoconhecimento e os limites da autenticidade”, texto de Sven Bernecker traduzido e publicado neste número de Sképsis, é dar razões para que defensores do anti-individualismo que sejam partidários da estratégia do autoconhecimento básico, no que diz respeito ao debate sobre a compatibilidade entre anti-individualismo e conhecimento de si, mudem de posição, e passem a defender anti-individualismo com teoria da autenticidade.
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  24. added 2016-07-21
    Autoconhecimento e os limites da autenticidade.Sven Bernecker - 2016 - Skepsis: A Journal for Philosophy and Interdisciplinary Research 9 (13):105-125.
  25. added 2016-01-11
    Why Privileged Self-Knowledge and Content Externalism Are Compatible.Sergio Armando Gallegos - 2015 - Principia: An International Journal of Epistemology 19 (2):197-216.
    In the last twenty-five years, several authors have raised problems to the thesis that privileged self-knowledge is compatible with content externalism. In particular, the 'slow-switching' argument, which was originally put forth by Paul Boghossian (1989), aims to show that there is no satisfactory account of how we can have privileged knowledge about our own thoughts given content externalism. Though many philosophers have found ways to block the argument, no one has worried to address a major worry that Boghossian had when (...)
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  26. added 2015-06-01
    The Cost of Treating Knowledge as a Mental State.Martin Smith - forthcoming - In A. Carter, E. Gordon & B. Jarvis (eds.), Knowledge First, Approaches to Epistemology and Mind. Oxford University Press.
    My concern in this paper is with the claim that knowledge is a mental state – a claim that Williamson places front and centre in Knowledge and Its Limits. While I am not by any means convinced that the claim is false, I do think it carries certain costs that have not been widely appreciated. One source of resistance to this claim derives from internalism about the mental – the view, roughly speaking, that one’s mental states are determined by one’s (...)
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  27. added 2015-04-13
    The Twin Earth Thought Experiments.Bryan Frances - 1998
  28. 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 (...)
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  29. added 2014-09-06
    Content Externalism and Equivocal Inference.T. Parent - manuscript
    This draft now appears (in revised form) as Chapter 6 of _Self-Reflection for the Opaque Mind_. See http://philpapers.org/rec/PARSFT-3.
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  30. added 2014-07-31
    Review of Mikkel Gerken's Epistemic Reasoning and the Mental. [REVIEW]B. J. C. Madison - 2014 - Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews:xx-yy.
  31. added 2014-04-03
    Subjectivism and Environmentalism.Ernest LePore - 1990 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 33 (2):197-214.
    The main thesis of this paper is that the most cogent demands of subjectivity, at least with respect to questions concerning the contents of our thoughts, can be accommodated within an objectivist framework. I begin with two theses: (1) Subjectivity: I can know (the contents of) my own thoughts without appeal to any knowledge of features external to my mind; (2) Environmentalism: (The contents of) my thoughts are determined by features external to my mind, at least in this sense: without (...)
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  32. added 2014-04-02
    Is Self-Knowledge an Entitlement? And Why Should We Care?Susana Nuccetelli - 2001 - Southern Journal of Philosophy 39 (1):143-155.
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  33. added 2014-03-31
    Externalism, Internalism, and Knowledge of Content.Keith Butler - 1997 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 57 (4):773-800.
    Externalism holds, and internalism denies, that the individuation of many of an individual's mental states (e.g., thoughts about the physical world) depends necessarily on relations that individual bears to the physical and/or social environment. Many philosophers, externalists and internalists alike, believe that introspection yields knowledge of the contents of our thoughts that is direct and authoritative. It is not obvious, however, that the metaphysical claims of externalism are compatible with this epistemological thesis. Some (e.g., Burge, 1988; Falvey and Owens (F&O), (...)
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  34. added 2014-03-31
    Externalism and Memory.Anthony L. Brueckner - 1997 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 78 (1):1-12.
  35. added 2014-03-31
    Self-Knowledge and Scepticism.Jeff Malpas - 1994 - Erkenntnis 40 (2):165-184.
    Donald Davidson has argued that 'most of our beliefs must be true' and that global scepticism is therefore false. Davidson's arguments to this conclusion often seem to depend on externalist considerations. Davidson's position has been criticised, however, on the grounds that he does not defeat the sceptic, but rather already assumes the falsity of scepticism through his appeal to externalism. Indeed, it has been claimed that far from defeating the sceptic Davidson introduces an even more extreme version of scepticism according (...)
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  36. added 2014-03-28
    The Relevance of Discriminatory Knowledge of Content.Sanford C. Goldberg - 1999 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 80 (2):136-56.
    Pacific Philosophical Quarterly, 80:2, 136-56 (June 1999).
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  37. added 2014-03-27
    Externalism and Memory.Eric Gilbertson - 2000 - Southwest Philosophy Review 16 (1):51-58.
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  38. 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.
  39. added 2014-03-26
    Davidson on First‐Person Authority and Externalism.Sven Bernecker - 1996 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 39 (1):121-139.
    Incompatibilism is the view that privileged knowledge of our own mental states cannot be reconciled with externalism regarding the content of mental states. Davidson has recently developed two arguments that are supposed to disprove incompatibilism and establish the consistency of privileged access and externalism. One argument criticizes incompatibilism for assuming that externalism conflicts with the mind?body identity theory. Since mental states supervene on neurological events, Davidson argues, they are partly ?in the head? and are knowable just by reflection. Another argument (...)
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  40. added 2014-03-25
    'Very-Slow-Switching' and Memory (a Critical Note on Ludlow's Paper).Yujin Nagasawa - 2000 - Acta Analytica 15 (25):173-175.
  41. added 2014-03-25
    Realism and Self-Knowledge: A Problem for Burge.Michael Hymers - 1997 - Philosophical Studies 86 (3):303-325.
    Tyler Burge says that first-person authority can be reconciled with anti-individualism about the intentional by denying part of the "Cartesian conception" of authority, which claims that I am actually authoritative about my intentional attitudes in counterfactual situations. This clause, he says, wrongly conflates the evaluation-conditions for sceptical doubts about the "external" world with the conditions for classifying intentional attitudes in counterfactual situations. This paper argues that the kind of possibility needed to understand external-world scepticism justifies the conflation and that Burge (...)
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  42. added 2014-03-24
    Externalism and the Memory Argument.Yujin Nagasawa - 2002 - Dialectica 56 (4):335-46.
    Pa ul Boghos s i a n’ s ‘ Me mor y Ar gume nt ’ a l l ege dl y s hows , us i ng t he f ami l i a r s l ow-switching scenario, that externalism and authoritative self-knowledge are incompatible. The aim of this paper is to undermine the argument by examining..
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  43. added 2014-03-24
    Privileged Self-Knowledge and Externalism: A Contextualist Approach.Jakob Hohwy - 2002 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 83 (3):235-52.
  44. added 2014-03-23
    A Trilemma for Redeployment.Akeel Bilgrami - 2003 - Philosophical Issues 13 (1):22-30.
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  45. added 2014-03-23
    Meaning Rationalism, a Priori, and Transparency of Content.Tadeusz Szubka - 2000 - Philosophical Psychology 13 (4):491-503.
    Most current theories of meaning and mental content accept externalism. One of its forceful exponents is Ruth Garrett Millikan. She argues that externalism leads to the abandonment of "the last myth of the given", that is, of the idea that identity of meaning and mental content is somehow unproblematically given to us, and that we can easily recognize the sameness of meaning and mental content. If one refuses such a "mythical" giveness or meaning rationalism, one has to admit that there (...)
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  46. added 2014-03-22
    Semantic Externalism, Authoritative Self-Knowledge, and Adaptation to Slow Switching.Andrew F. Smith - 2003 - Acta Analytica 18 (30-31):71-87.
    I here argue against the viability of Peter Ludlow’s modified version of Paul Boghossian’s argument for the incompatibility of semantic externalism and authoritative self-knowledge. Ludlow contends that slow switching is not merely actual but is, moreover, prevalent; it can occur whenever we shift between localized linguistic communities. It is therefore quite possible, he maintains, that we undergo unwitting shifts in our mental content on a regular basis. However, there is good reason to accept as plausible that despite their prevalence we (...)
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  47. 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.
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  48. added 2014-03-21
    Externalism, Memory, and Self-Knowledge.K. J. Kraay - 2002 - Erkenntnis 56 (3):297-317.
    Externalism holds that the individuation of mental content depends on factors external to the subject. This doctrine appears to undermine both the claim that there is a priori self-knowledge, and the view that individuals have privileged access to their thoughts. Tyler Burge's influential "inclusion theory of self-knowledge" purports to reconcile externalism with authoritative self-knowledge. I first consider Paul Boghossian's claim that the inclusion theory is internally inconsistent. I reject one line of response to this charge, but I endorse another. I (...)
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  49. added 2014-03-20
    The Dialectical Context of Boghossian's Memory Argument.Sanford Goldberg - 2005 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 35 (1):135-48.
    Externalism1 is the thesis that some propositional attitudes depend for their individuation on features of the thinker’s (social and/or physical) environment. The doctrine of self-knowledge of thoughts is the thesis that for all thinkers S and occurrent thoughts that p, S has authoritative and non-empirical knowledge of her thought that p. A much-discussed question in the literature is whether these two doctrines are compatible. In this paper I attempt to respond to one argument for an incompatibilist conclusion, Boghossian’s 1989 ‘Memory (...)
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  50. added 2014-03-20
    (Nonstandard) Lessons From World-Switching Cases.Sanford C. Goldberg - 2005 - Philosophia 32 (1-4):85-131.
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