Moran on self-knowledge and practical agency


Authors
Alan Thomas
University of York
Abstract
Richard Moran’s Authority and Estrangement develops a compelling explanation of the characteristic features of self-knowledge that involve the use of ‘I’ as subject. Such knowledge is immediate in the sense of non-inferential, is not evidentially grounded and is epistemically authoritative.1 A&E develops its distinctive explanation while also offering accounts of other features of self-knowledge that are often overlooked, such as the centrality of self-knowledge characterised in this way to the concept of the person and its ethical importance. Moran recognises that were an agent to lack the capacity authoritatively to avow his or her own state of mind this would be an ethically damaging defect. Moran’s treatment of these issues is subtle and in places profoundly insightful. I will argue, however, that there is a loose fit between two separate explanations that he gives of self-knowledge. On the one hand Moran argues that the best explanation of self-
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