What certainty teaches

Philosophical Psychology 25 (2):227 - 243 (2012)
Abstract
Most philosophers, including all materialists I know of, believe that I am a complex thing?a thing with parts?and that my mental life is (or is a result of) the interaction of these parts. These philosophers often believe that I am a body or a brain, and my mental life is (or is a product of) brain activity. In this paper, I develop and defend a novel argument against this view. The argument turns on certainty, that highest epistemic status that a precious few of our beliefs enjoy. For example, on the basis of introspection, I am certain that I am not in fierce pain right now. But if I am a complex thing like a body or a brain, then introspection might be a causal series of events extended in time. And any such process could go awry. So, if introspection is such a process, then I could gain good evidence that the introspective process has gone awry and that I am, contrary to appearances, feeling fierce pain right now. Therefore, the view that I am a complex thing like a body or a brain forces open the possibility that I cannot be certain that I am not feeling fierce pain right now. Since that is clearly not an open possibility, it follows that I am not a complex thing. I conclude by responding to three objections.
Keywords certainty  introspection  dualism  philosophy of mind  epistemology  defeasibility  materialism  physicalism
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1080/09515089.2011.579419
Options
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
Edit this record
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Mark as duplicate
Request removal from index
Revision history
Download options
Our Archive


Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 32,555
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA
The Content and Epistemology of Phenomenal Belief.David J. Chalmers - 2003 - In Quentin Smith & Aleksandar Jokic (eds.), Consciousness: New Philosophical Perspectives. Oxford University Press. pp. 220--72.
Introspection.Alex Byrne - 2005 - Philosophical Topics 33 (1):79-104.
First-Person Access.Sydney Shoemaker - 1990 - Philosophical Perspectives 4:187-214.

View all 20 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles
Introspection and Free Will.Stewart E. Kelly - 1991 - Grazer Philosophische Studien 39:155-164.
Introspection and Consciousness.Declan Smithies & Daniel Stoljar (eds.) - 2012 - Oxford University Press.
Why Certainty is Not a Mansion.Elly Vintiadis - 2006 - Journal of Philosophical Research 31:143-152.
Certainty About Sensations.Joseph Margolis - 1964 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 25 (December):242-247.
Wittgenstein's Scepticism' in on Certainty.Norman Malcolm - 1988 - Inquiry : An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 31 (3):277 – 293.
Dualism.Howard M. Robinson - 2002 - In Stephen P. Stich & Ted A. Warfield (eds.), Blackwell Guide to Philosophy of Mind. Blackwell. pp. 85--101.
Dualism.Howard Robinson - 2008 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Smart on Sensations.Kurt Baier - 1962 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 40 (1):57-68.
Measuring Pain: An Introspective Look at Introspection.Yutaka Nakamura & R. Chapman - 2002 - Consciousness and Cognition 11 (4):582-592.
Introspection: Divided and Partly Eliminated.Peter Carruthers - 2010 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 80 (1):76-111.
Added to PP index
2010-11-24

Total downloads
330 ( #11,124 of 2,235,775 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
2 ( #267,882 of 2,235,775 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Monthly downloads
My notes
Sign in to use this feature