Evans and First Person Authority

Abstracta 5 (1):3-15 (2009)


In The Varieties of Reference, Gareth Evans describes the acquisition of beliefs about one’s beliefs in the following way: ‘I get myself in a position to answer the question whether I believe that p by putting into operation whatever procedure I have for answering the question whether p.’ In this paper I argue that Evans’s remark can be used to explain first person authority if it is supplemented with the following consideration: Holding on to the content of a belief and ‘prefixing’ it with ‘I believe that’ is as easy as it is to hold on to the contents of one’s thoughts when making an inference. We do not, usually, have the problem, in going, for example, from ‘p’ and ‘q’ to ‘p and q’, that one of our thought contents gets corrupted. Self-ascription of belief by way of Evans’s procedure is based on the same capacity to retain and re-deploy thought contents and therefore should enjoy a similar degree of authority. However, is Evans’s description exhaustive of all authoritative self-ascription of belief? Christopher Peacocke has suggested that in addition to Evans’s procedure there are two more relevant ways of self-ascribing belief. I argue that both methods can be subsumed under Evans’s procedure.

Download options


External links

  • This entry has no external links. Add one.
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library


Added to PP

315 (#34,639)

6 months
18 (#47,980)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Similar books and articles

Evans on Self-Identification.Lucy F. O'Brien - 1995 - Noûs 29 (2):232-247.
Whatever Happened to Evans' Action Component?Desheng Zong - July 2017 - Philosophy 92 (3):449-470.
Gareth Evans on Proper Names.Erhan Demircioglu - 2014 - Felsefe Tartismalari 50:1-9.
Vague Identity: Evans Misrepresented.J. A. Burgess - 1989 - Analysis 49 (3):112 - 119.
Self-Knowledge and Communication.Johannes Roessler - 2015 - Philosophical Explorations 18 (2):153-168.

Author's Profile

Martin Francisco Fricke
Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico

References found in this work

The Varieties of Reference.Gareth Evans - 1982 - Oxford: Oxford University Press.
The Varieties of Reference.Louise M. Antony - 1987 - Philosophical Review 96 (2):275.
First Person Authority.Donald Davidson - 1984 - Dialectica 38 (2‐3):101-112.

View all 18 references / Add more references

Citations of this work

Reasoning and Self-Knowledge.Martin Francisco Fricke - 2018 - Análisis Filosófico 38 (1):33-55.
Razonamiento y Autoconocimiento.Martin F. Fricke - 2018 - Análisis Filosófico 38 (1):33-55.

Add more citations