Theoria 22 (1):35-41 (2007)
Richard Moran has argued, convincingly, in favour of the idea that there must be more than one path to access our own mental contents. The existence of those routes, one first-personal —through avowal— the other third-personal —no different to the one used to ascribe mental states to other people and to interpret their actions— is intimately connected to our capacity to respond to norms. Moran’s account allows for conflicts between first personal and third personal authorities over my own beliefs; this enable some instances of Moore-paradoxical cases to be meaningful. In this paper we reflect on the consequences of this view for the acquisition of beliefs, and argue that, as in the moral case, excessive concentration on a third-personal understanding of thought undermines the very idea of being directed to the world and of being capable to fully own our own beliefs. We suggest that maybe too much attention to epistemic virtues or to justification is misdirected and could produce beliefs that are themselves not first-personal enough.
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