I argue that indirect quotation in the first person simple present tense (self-quotation) provides a class of infallible assertions. The defense of this conclusion examines the joint descriptive and constitutive functions of performative utterances and argues that a parallel treatment of belief ascription is in order. The parallel account yields a class of infallible belief ascriptions that makes no appeal to privileged modes of access. Confronting a dilemma formulated by Crispin Wright for theories of self-knowledge gives an epistemological setting for (...) the account of infallible belief ascription. (shrink)
Donald Davidson's explanation of first-person authority turns on an ingenious account of speakers' knowledge of meaning. It nonetheless suffers from a structural defect and yields, at best, expressive know-how for speakers. I argue that an expressivist strand already latent in Davidson's paratactic treatment of the semantics of belief attribution can be exploited to repair the defect, and so to yield a plausible account of first-person authority.
Philosophers continue to locate themselves on a landscape in which scepticism is a prominent feature. By treating sceptical scenarios, from evil demons to brains-in-vats, as "real possibilities" that would, if actual, suffice to "explain our experience as of a world beyond our senses", we can locate the strong independence of the world from knowledge characteristic of metaphysical realism. But, by taking scepticism this seriously, realists deprive themselves of any justification for other theses they nonetheless continue to advocate. In order to (...) advance beyond scepticism, metaphysical realists must then treat sceptical scenarios as mere logical possibilities, but by doing so they jettison the strong independence of the world that characterizes their own form of realism. This "concurrent need to admit and deny a thesis, especially a sceptical one", is the "neurosis" or "epistemic dissociative disorder" of Michael Hymers's title. Hymers makes a persuasive case for regarding this simple story as the right diagnosis for a succession of ills afflicting self-described metaphysical realists. On his telling of the tale, the mind-independence of the world needed for metaphysical realism requires taking scepticism seriously; but accompanying positive theses require that the same seriousness be dampened. (shrink)
Essays by the late feminist philosopher Sue Campbell explore the entanglement of epistemic and ethical values in our attempts to be faithful to our pasts. Her relational conception of memory is used to confront the challenges of sharing memory and reconstituting selves even in contexts fractured by moral and political differences.
We cannot rethink the ethical and political dimensions of memory—especially its role in constituting persons and identities—without rethinking the nature of memory itself. I first describe a traditional epistemological view of memory, according to which memory is a faculty for preserving knowledge of the past, and then juxtapose a relational theory of memory developed by Sue Campbell. The relational theory is represented in terms of a distinction between actions and achievements; this distinction enables us to both clarify and defend the (...) shift from an epistemological to a political conception of memory. On the resulting view, accuracy, not truth, is the appropriate norm for evaluating memory, and remembering is no longer conceived as an interior process. In the penultimate section I confront an objection to a relational theory of memory—and to relational theories of cognition generally—and suggest a strategy of response. (shrink)
A classical moral defense of profit seeking as the social responsibility of business in a competitive market is examined. That defense rests on claims about the directness of relationships between (a) profit seeking activity and standards of living and (b) standards of living and the quality of life. Responses to the classical argument tend to raise doubts about the directness of the first relationship. This essay challenges the directness of the second relationship, argues that the classical argument is invalid, and (...) claims that an alternative description of the social responsibility of business is entailed by the classical premisses. (shrink)