Thinking through talking to yourself: Inner speech as a vehicle of conscious reasoning

Philosophical Psychology 36 (2):292-318 (2023)
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People frequently report that their thought has, at times, a vocal character. Thinking commonly appears to be accompanied or constituted by silently ‘talking’ to oneself in inner speech. In this paper, I argue that inner speech ‘utterances’ can constitute occurrent propositional attitudes, e.g., occurrent judgments, suppositions, etc., and, thereby, we can consciously reason through tokening a series of inner speech utterances in working memory. As I demonstrate, the functional role a mental state plays in working memory is determined in a flexible and context sensitive manner by metacognitive monitoring and control procedures. An inner speech utterance functions as an occurrent judgment (and, thus, as a premise, lemma, or conclusion in a line of conscious reasoning) when it is experienced with a level of certainty that exceeds one’s threshold of confidence for acceptance. In virtue of an agent experiencing an inner speech utterance with a sufficient level of certainty, the utterance plays the functional role of an occurrent judgment through, e.g., terminating inquiry and causing overt actions (like overtly asserting the words rehearsed in inner speech).



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Wade Munroe
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

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Dual-Process Theories of Higher Cognition Advancing the Debate.Jonathan Evans & Keith E. Stanovich - 2013 - Perspectives on Psychological Science 8 (3):223-241.
Doxastic deliberation.Nishi Shah & J. David Velleman - 2005 - Philosophical Review 114 (4):497-534.
What Is an Object File?E. J. Green & Jake Quilty-Dunn - 2021 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 72 (3):665-699.
How truth governs belief.Nishi Shah - 2003 - Philosophical Review 112 (4):447-482.

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