Ludus Vitalis 16 (29):73-91 (2008)

Martin Francisco Fricke
Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico
Someone who believes “I believe it will rain” can easily be mistaken about the rain. But it does not seem likely, and might even be impossible, that he is wrong about the fact that he believes that it is going to rain. How can we account for this authority about our own beliefs – the phenomenon known as first person authority? In this paper I examine a type of theory proposed, in distinct forms, by Crispin Wright and Jane Heal for an explanation of our authority. Both authors claim that our second-order beliefs (of the form “I believe that p”) are constitutive of the first-order beliefs that are self-ascribed in them (beliefs of the form “p”) and both try to derive the necessity of first person authority from this constitutive relation. My paper analyses and criticizes the two proposals and suggests a non-constitutive, alternative account of first person authority.
Keywords self-knowledge  self-ascription  belief  intentional states  Crispin Wright  Jane Heal
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