Knowing the world by knowing one's mind

Synthese 123 (1):1-34 (2000)
This paper addresses the question whetherintrospection plus externalism about mental contentwarrant an a priori refutation of external-worldskepticism and ontological solipsism. The suggestionis that if thought content is partly determined byaffairs in the environment and if we can havenon-empirical knowledge of our current thoughtcontents, we can, just by reflection, know about theworld around us – we can know that our environment ispopulated with content-determining entities. Afterexamining this type of transcendental argument anddiscussing various objections found in the literature,I argue that the notion of privileged self-knowledgeunderlying this argument presupposes that we canlearn, via introspection, that our so-called thoughtsare propositional attitudes rather than contentlessstates. If, however, externalism is correct andthought content consists in the systematic dependencyof internal states on relational properties, we cannotknow non-empirically whether or not we havepropositional attitudes. Self-knowledge (apropositional attitude) is consistent with us lackingthe ability to rule out, via introspection, thepossibility that we don't have any propositionalattitudes. Self-knowledge provides us with knowledgeof what is in our minds, but not that we haveminds. Hence, the combination of externalism with thedoctrine of privileged self-knowledge does not allowfor an a priori refutation of skepticism and istherefore unproblematic
Keywords Content  Epistemology  Externalism  Mind  Scepticism  Self-knowledge  Thought  Transcendental Argument
Categories (categorize this paper)
Reprint years 2004
DOI 10.1023/A:1005239420827
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history
Request removal from index
Download options
Our Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 26,188
Through your library
References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles
Boghossian on Empty Natural Kind Concepts.Tom Stoneham - 1999 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 99 (1):119-22.
Knowing the World and Knowing Our Minds.Ted A. Warfield - 1995 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 55 (3):525-545.
Knowledge of Content and Knowledge of the World.Anthony L. Brueckner - 1994 - Philosophical Review 103 (2):327-343.
Is Self-Knowledge Compatible with Externalism?Pierre Jacob - 2001 - Mind and Society 2 (1):59-75.
Externalism, Internalism, and Knowledge of Content.Keith Butler - 1997 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 57 (4):773-800.
Externalism and Knowledge of the Attitudes.John Gibbons - 2001 - Philosophical Quarterly 51 (202):13-28.
Externalism, Slow Switching and Privileged Self-Knowledge.Hamid Vahid - 2003 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 66 (2):370-388.
Externalism and “Knowing What” One Thinks.T. Parent - 2015 - Synthese 192 (5):1337-1350.

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

153 ( #29,547 of 2,153,858 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

17 ( #25,737 of 2,153,858 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.

Other forums