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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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  1. Externalism and Skepticism: Recognition, Expression, and Self-Knowledge.Dorit Bar-On - manuscript
    As I am sitting at my desk in front of my computer, a thought crosses my mind: There's water in the glass. The thought has a particular content: that there is water in the glass. And, if all is well, there is water in the glass, so my thought is true. According to external-world skepticism, I still do not know that there is water in the glass, because my way of telling what's in front of me does not allow me (...)
  2. Externalism and Self-Knowledge: Content, Use, and Expression.Dorit Bar-On - 2004 - Noûs 38 (3):430-55.
    Suppose, as I stare at a glass in front of me, I say or think: There.
  3. 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.”.
  4. Autoconhecimento e os limites da autenticidade.Sven Bernecker - 2016 - Skepsis: A Journal for Philosophy and Interdisciplinary Research 9 (13):105-125.
  5. Memory and Externalism.Sven Bernecker - 2004 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 69 (3):605-632.
    Content externalism about memory says that the individuation of memory contents depends on relations the subject bears to his past environment. I defend externalism about memory by arguing that neither philosophical nor psychological considerations stand in the way of accepting the context dependency of memory that follows from externalism.
  6. 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 (...)
  7. 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 (...)
  8. A Trilemma for Redeployment.Akeel Bilgrami - 2003 - Philosophical Issues 13 (1):22-30.
  9. The Transparency of Mental Content Revisited. [REVIEW]Paul Boghossian - 2011 - Philosophical Studies 155 (3):457-465.
  10. Content and Self-Knowledge.Paul Boghossian - 1989 - Philosophical Topics 17 (1):5-26.
    This paper argues that, given a certain apparently inevitable thesis about content, we could not know our own minds. The thesis is that the content of a thought is determined by its relational properties.
  11. 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.
  12. The Transparency of Mental Content.Paul A. Boghossian - 1994 - Philosophical Perspectives 8:33-50.
  13. Externalism and Inference.Paul A. Boghossian - 1992 - Philosophical Issues 2:11-28.
  14. Reply to Schiffer.Paul A. Boghossian - 1992 - Philosophical Issues 2:39-42.
  15. Reliabilism, Knowledge, and Mental Content.J. Brown - 2000 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 100 (2):115-35.
    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 (...)
  16. Anti-Individualism and Knowledge.Jessica Brown - 2004 - MIT Press.
  17. Book Review. Knowing Our Own Minds Crispin Wright, Barry Smith, Cynthia MacDonald. [REVIEW]Jessica Brown - 2001 - Mind 110 (438):586-588.
  18. Critical Reasoning, Understanding and Self-Knowledge.Jessica Brown - 2000 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 61 (3):659-676.
    Following Burge, many anti-individualists suppose that a subject can possess a concept even if she incompletely understands it. While agreeing that this is possible, I argue that there is a limit on the extent to which a subject can incompletely understand the set of concepts she thinks with. This limit derives from our conception of our ability to reflectively evaluate our own thoughts or, as Burge puts it, our ability to engage in critical reasoning. The paper extends Burge’s own work (...)
  19. The Coherence of Scepticism About Self-Knowledge.A. Brueckner - 2003 - Analysis 63 (1):41-48.
  20. Scepticism About Self-Knowledge Redux.Anthony Brueckner - 2007 - Analysis 67 (4):311–315.
  21. Externalism and Memory.Anthony L. Brueckner - 1997 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 78 (1):1-12.
  22. Is Scepticism About Self-Knowledge Incoherent?Anthony L. Brueckner - 1997 - Analysis 57 (4):287-90.
    Gary Ebbs has argued that skepticism regarding knowledge of the contents of one's own mental states cannot even be coherently formulated. This articles is a reply to that argument.
  23. Memory and Self-Knowledge.Tyler Burge - 1998 - In Peter Ludlow & N. Martin (eds.), Externalism and Self-Knowledge. CSLI Publications.
  24. Individualism and Self-Knowledge.Tyler Burge - 1988 - Journal of Philosophy 85 (November):649-63.
  25. 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), (...)
  26. Content Externalism and Brute Logical Error.John M. Collins - 2008 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 38 (4):pp. 549-574.
    Most content externalists concede that even if externalism is compatible with the thesis that one has authoritative self-knowledge of thought contents, it is incompatible with the stronger claim that one is always able to tell by introspection whether two of one’s thought tokens have the same, or different, content. If one lacks such authoritative discriminative self-knowledge of thought contents, it would seem that brute logical error – non-culpable logical error – is possible. Some philosophers, such as Paul Boghossian, have argued (...)
  27. Knowing One's Own Mind.Donald Davidson - 1987 - Proceedings and Addresses of the American Philosophical Association 60 (3):441-458.
  28. 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 (...)
  29. 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.
  30. Knowing What You Think Vs. Knowing That You Think It.Fred Dretske - 2004 - In Richard Schantz (ed.), The Externalist Challenge. De Gruyter.
  31. Externalism and Self-Knowledge.Fred Dretske - 2003 - In Susana Nuccetelli (ed.), New Essays on Semantic Externalism and Self-Knowledge. MIT Press.
  32. 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 (...)
  33. Is Skepticism About Self-Knowledge Coherent?Gary Ebbs - 2001 - Philosophical Studies 105 (1):43-58.
    In previous work I argued that skepticism about the compatibility ofanti-individualism with self-knowledge is incoherent. Anthony Brueckner isnot convinced by my argument, for reasons he has recently explained inprint. One premise in Brueckner's reasoning is that a person'sself-knowledge is confined to what she can derive solely from herfirst-person experiences of using her sentences. I argue that Brueckner'sacceptance of this premise undermines another part of his reasoning – hisattempt to justify his claims about what thoughts our sincere utterances ofcertain sentences would (...)
  34. Memory and Knowledge of Content.Kevin Falvey - 2003 - In Susana Nuccetelli (ed.), New Essays on Semantic Externalism and Self-Knowledge. MIT Press.
  35. Externalism, Self-Knowledge, and Skepticism.Kevin Falvey & Joseph Owens - 1994 - Philosophical Review 103 (1):107-37.
    Psychological externalism is the thesis Chat the contents of many of a person's propositional mental states are determined in part by relations he bears to his natural and social environment. This thesis has recently been thrust into prominence in the philosophy of mind by a series of thought experiments due to Hilary Putnam and Tyler Burge. Externalism is a metaphysical thesis, but in this work I investigate its implications for the epistemology of the mental. I am primarily concerned with the (...)
  36. 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 (...)
  37. What is Externalism?Katalin Farkas - 2003 - Philosophical Studies 112 (3):187-208.
    The content of the externalist thesis about the mind depends crucially on how we define the distinction between the internal and the external. According to the usual understanding, the boundary between the internal and the external is the skull or the skin of the subject. In this paper I argue that the usual understanding is inadequate, and that only the new understanding of the external/internal distinction I suggest helps us to understand the issue of the compatibility of externalism and privileged (...)
  38. 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.
  39. Conhece-te a ti Mesmo: Externalismo e Auto-conhecimento de Atitudes Passadas.Danilo Fraga Dantas - 2010 - Kinesis 2 (3):157 – 174.
    There is a thesis that assure the computability between externalize about mental content and self-knowledge (BURGE, 1988). However, this theses, that explore the auto-verification property of claims of the type “I think that p”, works only for assertive claims that are express in the simple present tense. Among the problematic cases are the claims in the past tense and claims about specific propositional attitude. This fails about the thesis of the compatibility is pointed by Boghossian (1992) as a prove of (...)
  40. Twin Earth Thought Experiments.Bryan Frances - 1998
  41. Anti-Individualism and Basic Self-Knowledge.Maria J. Frapolli & E. Romero - 2003 - In Maria J. Frapolli & E. Romero (eds.), Meaning, Basic Self-Knowledge, and Mind. CSLI Publications.
  42. Meaning, Basic Self-Knowledge, and Mind: Essays on Tyler Burge.Maria Frapolli & Esther Romero (eds.) - 2002 - University of Chicago Press.
    This volume comprises a lively and thorough discussion between philosophers and Tyler Burge about Burge's recent, and already widely accepted, position in the theory of meaning, mind, and knowledge. This position is embodied by an externalist theory of meaning and an anti-individualist theory of mind and approach to self-knowledge. The authors of the eleven papers here expound their versions of this position and go on to critique Burge's version. Together with Burge's replies, this volume offers a major contribution to contemporary (...)
  43. Why Privileged Self-Knowledge and Content Externalism Are Compatible.Sergio A. 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 (...)
  44. No Access for the Externalist: Discussion of Heil's 'Privileged Access'.N. Georgalis - 1990 - Mind 100 (393):101-8.
  45. Epistemic Reasoning and the Mental.Mikkel Gerken - 2013 - Palgrave Macmillan (Innovations in Philosophy).
    Epistemic Reasoning and the Mental integrates the epistemology of reasoning and philosophy of mind. The book contains introductions to basic concepts in the epistemology of inference and to important aspects of the philosophy of mind. By examining the fundamental competencies involved in reasoning, Gerken argues that reasoning's epistemic force depends on the external environment in ways that are both surprising and epistemologically important. -/- For example, Gerken argues that purportedly deductive reasoning that exhibits the fallacy of equivocation may nevertheless transmit (...)
  46. Conceptual Equivocation and Warrant by Reasoning.Mikkel Gerken - 2011 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 89 (3):381-400.
    In this paper, I challenge a widely presupposed principle in the epistemology of inference. The principle, (Validity Requirement), is this: S’s (purportedly deductive) reasoning, R, from warranted premise-beliefs provides (conditional) warrant for S’s belief in its conclusion only if R is valid. I argue against (Validity Requirement) from two prominent assumptions in the philosophy of mind: that the cognitive competencies that constitute reasoning are fallible, and that the attitudes operative in reasoning are anti-individualistically individuated. Indeed, my discussion will amount to (...)
  47. Conceptual Equivocation and Epistemic Relevance.Mikkel Gerken - 2009 - Dialectica 63 (2):117-132.
    Much debate has surrounded "switching" scenarios in which a subject's reasoning is said to exhibit the fallacy of equivocation ( Burge 1988 ; Boghossian 1992, 1994 ). Peter Ludlow has argued that such scenarios are "epistemically prevalent" and, therefore, epistemically relevant alternatives ( Ludlow 1995a ). Since a distinctive feature of the cases in question is that the subject blamelessly engages in conceptual equivocation, we may label them 'equivocational switching cases'. Ludlow's influential argument occurs in a discussion about compatibilism with (...)
  48. We Can't Know a Priori That H2O Exists. But Can We Know a Priori That Water Does?Brie Gertler - 2004 - Analysis 64 (1):44-47.
    Goldberg (2003) defends externalism from Boghossian's (1998) version of the "armchair knowledge" objection. I argue here that, while Goldberg's challenge blocks a different version of this objection, it does not directly block Boghossian's version. And Goldberg's approach is not promising as a response to Boghossian's version of the armchair knowledge objection.
  49. 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 (...)
  50. Externalism and Memory.Eric Gilbertson - 2000 - Southwest Philosophy Review 16 (1):51-58.
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