In the armchair, down and out

Sitting in the philosopher’s armchair, I am not engaged in any detailed empirical investigation of the world. But, as I pursue philosophy’s distinctive armchair methodology, I sometimes come upon arguments that appear to disclose requirements for thought. According to some of these arguments, being a thinking person requires having the right kind of history, or having the right kind of cognitive architecture. According to other arguments, being able to think about particular topics requires being a member of a community of speakers, or being in contact with the right kinds of stuff. These arguments have the potential to raise an epistemological problem. For, suppose that armchair philosophical arguments such as these can yield knowledge about requirements for thought, and suppose too that I can know from the armchair that I am a thinking being who has thoughts about various particular topics. Then I seem to have a route to armchair knowledge about my history, my cognitive architecture, my community, and my material environment – knowledge about these things that does not depend on detailed empirical investigation of the world
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