The epistemological role of consciousness for introspective self-knowledge


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Recently, some philosophers have claimed that consciousness has an important epistemological role to play in the introspective self-ascription of one’s own mental states. This is the thesis of the epistemological role of consciousness for introspective self-knowledge. I will criticize BonJour’s account of the role of consciousness for introspection. He does not provide any reason for believing that conscious states are epistemically better off than non-conscious states. Then I will sketch a representationalist account of how the thesis could be true. Conscious states are available to the subject in a very special way in which non-conscious states are not available. This is the first part of the explanation. The crucial further element in the representationalist account is what I would like to call the ‘introspective mode of mind’. A mind can operate in certain ways or modes – modes of mind. Introspection normally takes place in the introspective mode of mind, judgments about one’s environment in the mode of ‘taking one’s appearances at face value’. And there probably are other modes of mind. The introspective mode of mind is characterized by the special way or framework in which cognitive capacities are employed
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