Aaron Zimmerman presents a new pragmatist account of belief, in terms of information poised to guide our more attentive, controlled actions. And he explores the consequences of this account for our understanding of the relation between psychology and philosophy, the mind and brain, the nature of delusion, faith, pretence, racism, and more.
Neo-Cartesian approaches to belief place greater evidential weight on a subject's introspective judgments than do neo-behaviorist accounts. As a result, the two views differ on whether our absent-minded and weak-willed actions are guided by belief. I argue that simulationist accounts of the concept of belief are committed to neo-Cartesianism, and, though the conceptual and empirical issues that arise are inextricably intertwined, I discuss experimental results that should point theory-theorists in that direction as well. Belief is even less closely connected to (...) behaviour than most contemporary functionalists allow. (shrink)
Constitutivist accounts of self-knowledge argue that a noncontingent, conceptual relation holds between our first-order mental states and our introspective awareness of them. I explicate a constitutivist account of our knowledge of our own beliefs and defend it against criticisms recently raised by Christopher Peacocke. According to Peacocke, constitutivism says that our second-order introspective beliefs are groundless. I show that Peacocke’s arguments apply to reliabilism not to constitutivism per se, and that by adopting a functionalist account of direct accessibility a constitutivist (...) can avoid reliabilism. I then argue that the resulting view is preferable to Peacocke’s own account of self-knowledge. (shrink)
Recent years have brought relativistic accounts of knowledge, first-person belief, and future contingents to prominence. I discuss these views, distinguish non-trivial from trivial forms of relativism, and then argue against relativism in all of its substantive varieties.
Recent philosophical discussions of self-knowledge have focused on basic cases: our knowledge of our own thoughts, beliefs, sensations, experiences, preferences, and intentions. Empiricists argue that we acquire this sort of self-knowledge through inner perception; rationalists assign basic self-knowledge an even more secure source in reason and conceptual understanding. I try to split the difference. Although our knowledge of our own beliefs and thoughts is conceptually insured, our knowledge of our experiences is relevantly like our perceptual knowledge of the external world.
Jordi Fernandez has recently offered an interesting account of introspective justification according to which the very states that (subjectively) justify one's first-order belief that p justify one's second order belief that one believes that p. I provide two objections to Fernandez's account.
Ordinary thinking about morality and rationality is inconsistent. To arrive at a view of morality that is as faithful to common thought as consistency will allow we must admit that it is not always irrational to knowingly act against the weight of reasons.
The proximity of introspection makes it difficult to explain. In what does our knowledge of our own beliefs and desires consist? Do we observe them with an inner eye? Do we infer their existence from premises concerning our actions and feelings? I reject both of these suggestions. Instead, I defend the view that facts about what we believe, and certain facts about what we want, are known by us in a direct or unmediated fashion. When one has genuinely introspective knowledge (...) of a belief one's reason for believing that one believes that p is the very fact that one believes that p . ;According to this account, our knowledge of certain mental states is infallible relative to its grounds: there are no false introspective beliefs that have the same kind of justification as our typical, true introspective beliefs. A significant part of the dissertation is spent defending this claim against those who argue for the possibility of certain forms of self-directed error. I argue that it cannot be the case that a subject falsely believes that she believes that p because she instead either believes some other proposition or bears some other attitude toward p, and that these facts impugn observational and inferentialist accounts of self-knowledge. I also develop accounts of what beliefs and desires are to help explain the relative infallibility of introspection. ;The view of self-knowledge I offer is one according to which we have reasons for believing that we believe certain things and reasons for believing that we want certain things. I argue that any adequate account of self-knowledge must have this feature because justification is necessary for knowledge and we must have reasons to be justified. But I reject the view that only phenomenal or experiential states can endow a subject with reasons. Beliefs and desires are individuated by their causal roles---they are not purely phenomenal in nature---but the fact that one believes that p can nevertheless directly ground one's introspective beliefs. Introspective knowledge is both direct and grounded in reason. (shrink)
Burge follows Descartes in claiming that the category of conceptually self-verifying judgments includes (but is not restricted to) judgments that give rise to sincere assertions of sentences of the form, 'I am thinking that p'. In this paper I argue that Burge’s Cartesian insight is hard to reconcile with Fregean accounts of the content of thought. Burge's intuitively compelling claim that cogito judgments are conceptually self-verifying poses a real challenge to neo-Fregean theories of content.
Descartes famously argued, on purely conceptual grounds, that even an extremely powerful being could not trick him into mistakenly judging that he was thinking. Of course, it is not necessarily true that Descartes is thinking. Still, Descartes claimed, it is necessarily true that if a person judges that she is thinking, that person is thinking. Following Tyler Burge (1988) we call such judgments ‘self-verifying.’ More exactly, a judgment j performed by a subject S at a time t is selfverifying if (...) and only if the fact that S has made j at t entails that j is true at t.2 Burge follows Descartes in claiming that the category of conceptually self-verifying judgments includes (but is not restricted to) judgments that give rise to sincere assertions of sentences of the form, ‘I am thinking that p’. We call such judgments ‘cogito’ judgments. In this paper I argue that Burge’s Cartesian insight is hard to reconcile with Fregean accounts of the content of thought. Theorists have tried to account for the self-verifying status of cogito judgments by arguing that the second-order judgment that one is thinking that p contains the thought that p as a part of it. I argue (§1) that the accuracy of the containment model is entailed by a Russellian view of content (according to which ‘‘belief’’ contexts are both extensional and transparent) when the Russellian view is attached to some fairly uncontroversial assumptions. The accuracy of the containment model is also entailed by non-hierarchical Fregean views of content according to which expressions in oblique contexts both denote and express ﬁrst-level senses (§2), but there are compelling arguments against non-hierarchical Fregean views (§3). Moreover, the extremely plausible account of self-veriﬁcation provided by Russellianism is not entailed by theories that follow Frege in accepting a hierarchy of senses and so allow that expressions in oblique contexts express senses that are not identical to the senses they there denote (§4).. (shrink)