The Empirical Case against Infallibilism

Authors
T. Parent
Virginia Tech
Abstract
Philosophers and psychologists generally hold that, in light of the empirical data, a subject lacks infallible access to her own mental states. However, while subjects certainly are fallible in some ways, I show that the data fails to discredit that a subject has infallible access to her own occurrent thoughts and judgments. This is argued, first, by revisiting the empirical studies, and carefully scrutinizing what is shown exactly. Second, I argue that if the data were interpreted to rule out all such infallibility, the relevant psychological studies would be self-effacing. For they adopt a methodology where a subject is simply presumed to know her own second-order thoughts and judgments--as if she were infallible about them. After all, what she expresses as her second-order judgment is trusted as accurate without independent evidence — even though such judgments often misrepresent the subject’s first-order states. The upshot is that such studies do not discredit all infallibility hypotheses regarding self-attributions of occurrent states
Keywords methodology in psychology  infallibilism about self-knowledge  self-blindness  introspection
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DOI 10.1007/s13164-015-0276-x
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