Since Socrates, and through Descartes to the present day, the problems of self-knowledge have been central to philosophy's understanding of itself. Today the idea of ''first-person authority''--the claim of a distinctive relation each person has toward his or her own mental life--has been challenged from a number of directions, to the point where many doubt the person bears any distinctive relation to his or her own mental life, let alone a privileged one. In Authority and Estrangement, Richard Moran argues (...) for a reconception of the first-person and its claims. Indeed, he writes, a more thorough repudiation of the idea of privileged inner observation leads to a deeper appreciation of the systematic differences between self-knowledge and the knowledge of others, differences that are both irreducible and constitutive of the very concept and life of the person.Masterfully blending philosophy of mind and moral psychology, Moran develops a view of self-knowledge that concentrates on the self as agent rather than spectator. He argues that while each person does speak for his own thought and feeling with a distinctive authority, that very authority is tied just as much to the disprivileging of the first-person, to its specific possibilities of alienation. Drawing on certain themes from Wittgenstein, Sartre, and others, the book explores the extent to which what we say about ourselves is a matter of discovery or of creation, the difficulties and limitations in being ''objective'' toward ourselves, and the conflicting demands of realism about oneself and responsibility for oneself. What emerges is a strikingly original and psychologically nuanced exploration of the contrasting ideals of relations to oneself and relations to others. (shrink)
Do we have introspective access to our own thoughts? Peter Carruthers challenges the consensus that we do: he argues that access to our own thoughts is always interpretive, grounded in perceptual awareness and sensory imagery. He proposes a bold new theory of self-knowledge, with radical implications for understanding of consciousness and agency.
"Self-knowledge" is commonly used in philosophy to refer to knowledge of one's particular mental states, including one's beliefs, desires, and sensations. It is also sometimes used to refer to knowledge about a persisting self -- its ontological nature, identity conditions, or character traits. At least since Descartes, most philosophers have believed that self-knowledge is importantly different from knowledge of the world external to oneself, including others' thoughts. But there is little agreement about what precisely distinguishes self-knowledge from (...) knowledge in other realms. Partially because of this disagreement, philosophers have endorsed competing accounts of how we acquire self-knowledge. These accounts have important consequences for the scope of mental content, for mental ontology, and for personal identity. (shrink)
In this paper, I argue that the method of transparency --determining whether I believe that p by considering whether p -- does not explain our privileged access to our own beliefs. Looking outward to determine whether one believes that p leads to the formation of a judgment about whether p, which one can then self-attribute. But use of this process does not constitute genuine privileged access to whether one judges that p. And looking outward will not provide for access to (...) dispositional beliefs, which are arguably more central examples of belief than occurrent judgments. First, one’s dispositional beliefs as to whether p may diverge from the occurrent judgments generated by the method of transparency. Second, even in cases where these are reliably linked — e.g., in which one’s judgment that p derives from one’s dispositional belief that p — using the judgment to self-attribute the dispositional belief requires an ‘inward’ gaze. (shrink)
This paper examines some of the interactions between holism, contextualism, and externalism, and will argue that an externalist metasemantics that grounds itself in certain plausible assumptions about self- knowledge will also be a contextualist metasemantics, and that such a contextualist metasemantics in turn resolves one of the best known problems externalist theories purportedly have with self-knowledge, namely the problem of how the possibility of various sorts of ‘switching’ cases can appear to undermine the ‘transparency’ of our thoughts (in particular, (...) our ability to tell, with respect to any two occurrent thoughts, whether they exercise the same or different concepts). (shrink)
In this paper I argue first, that a contrastive account of self-knowledge and the propositional attitudes entails an anti-individualist account of propositional attitude concepts, second, that the final account provides a solution to the McKinsey paradox, and third, that the account has the resources to explain why certain anti-skeptical arguments fail.
Self-knowledge is a persistent—and paradoxical—theme in medieval mysticism, which portrays our ultimate goal as union with the divine. Union with God is often taken to involve a cognitive and/or volitional merging that requires the loss of a sense of self as distinct from the divine. Yet affective mysticism—which emphasizes the passion of the incarnate Christ and portrays physical and emotional mystical experiences as inherently valuable—was in fact the dominant tradition in the later Middle Ages. An examination of both the (...) affective and apophatic traditions demonstrates that, in addition to constituting a necessary stage on the path toward union with the divine, self-knowledge in medieval mysticism was seen not just as something to be transcended, but (particularly in the works of female mystics) as a means of overcoming alienation from embodied existence. (shrink)
In this paper I argue in favor of the compatibility of semantic externalism with privileged self-knowledge by showing that an argument for incompatibilism from switching scenarios fails. Given the inclusion theory of self-knowledge, the hypothesis according to which I am having twater thoughts while thinking that I have water thoughts simply isn't a (entertainable) possibility. When I am on Earth thinking earthian concepts, I cannot believe that I am thinking that twater is wet for I don't have the (...) concept of twater available; so this concept cannot figure in any of my mental states. Analogously, when I am on Twin Earth, I cannot mistakenly believe that I am entertaining water thoughts. No matter how often I am switched between Earth and Twin Earth, I will never erroneously think that I am having water thoughts while in fact I am having twater thoughts and vice versa. Privileged self-knowledge is therefore immune to skeptical arguments from switching and twinning scenarios. (shrink)
The problem of self-knowledge is one of the most fascinating in all of philosophy and has crucial significance for the philosophy of mind and epistemology. Gertler assesses the leading theoretical approaches to self-knowledge, explaining the work of many of the key figures in the field: from Descartes and Kant, through to Bertrand Russell and Gareth Evans, as well as recent work by Tyler Burge, David Chalmers, William Lycan and Sydney Shoemaker. -/- Beginning with an outline of the distinction (...) between self-knowledge and self-awareness and providing essential historical background to the problem, Gertler addresses specific theories of self-knowledge such as the acquaintance theory, the inner sense theory, and the rationalist theory, as well as leading accounts of self-awareness. The book concludes with a critical explication of the dispute between empiricist and rationalist approaches. (shrink)
Dorit Bar-On develops and defends a novel view of avowals and self-knowledge. Drawing on resources from the philosophy of language, the theory of action, epistemology, and the philosophy of mind, she offers original and systematic answers to many long-standing questions concerning our ability to know our own minds. We are all very good at telling what states of mind we are in at a given moment. When it comes to our own present states of mind, what we say goes; (...) an avowal such as "I'm feeling so anxious" or "I'm thinking about my next trip to Paris," it is typically supposed, tells it like it is. But why is that? Why should what I say about my present mental states carry so much more weight than what others say about them? Why should avowals be more immune to criticism and correction than other claims we make? And if avowals are not based on any evidence or observation, how could they possibly express our knowledge of our own present mental states? Bar-On proposes a Neo-Expressivist view according to which an avowal is an act through which a person directly expresses, rather than merely reports, the very mental condition that the avowal ascribes. She argues that this expressivist idea, coupled with an adequate characterization of expression and a proper separation of the semantics of avowals from their pragmatics and epistemology, explains the special status we assign to avowals. As against many expressivists and their critics, she maintains that such an expressivist explanation is consistent with a non-deflationary view of self-knowledge and a robust realism about mental states. The view that emerges preserves many insights of the most prominent contributors to the subject, while offering a new perspective on our special relationship to our own minds. (shrink)
Self-knowledge is the focus of considerable attention from philosophers: Knowing Our Own Minds gives a much-needed overview of current work on the subject, bringing together new essays by leading figures. Knowledge of one's own sensations, desires, intentions, thoughts, beliefs, and other attitudes is characteristically different from other kinds of knowledge: it has greater immediacy, authority, and salience. The contributors examine philosophical questions raised by the distinctive character of self-knowledge, relating it to knowledge of other minds, to rationality and (...) agency, externalist theories of psychological content, and knowledge of language. Together these original, stimulating, and closely interlinked essays demonstrate the special relevance of self-knowledge to a broad range of issues in epistemology, philosophy of mind, and philosophy of language. (shrink)
Content externalism implies first, that there is a distinction between concepts and conceptions, and second, that there is a distinction between thoughts and states of mind. In this paper, I argue for a novel theory of self-knowledge: the partial-representation theory of self-knowledge, according to which the self-ascription of a thought is authoritative when it is based on a con-scious, occurrent thought in virtue of which it partially represents an underlying state of mind.
Self-knowledge is based on several different forms of information, so distinct that each one essentially establishes a different 'self. The ecological self is the self as directly perceived with respect to the immediate physical environment; the interpersonal self, also directly perceived, is established by species-specific signals of emotional rapport and communication; the extended self is based on memory and anticipation; the private self appears when we discover that our conscious experiences are exclusively our own; the conceptual self or 'self-concept' (...) draws its meaning from a network of socially-based assumptions and theories about human nature in general and ourselves in particular. Although these selves are rarely experienced as distinct (because they are held together by specific forms of stimulus information), they differ in their developmental histories, in the accuracy with which we can know them, in the pathologies to which they are subject, and generally in what they contribute to human experience. (shrink)
We argue that honesty in assertion requires non-empirical knowledge that what one is asserting is what one believes. Our argument proceeds from the thought that to assert honestly, one must follow and not merely conform to the norm “Assert that p only if you believe that p”. Furthermore, careful consideration of cases shows that the sort of doxastic self-knowledge required for following this norm cannot be acquired on the basis of observation, inference, or any other form of detection of (...) one’s own doxastic states. It is, as we put it, transparent rather than empirical self-knowledge. (shrink)
Dretske is a “conciliatory skeptic” on self-knowledge. Take some subject S such that (i) S thinks that P and (ii) S knows that she has thoughts. Dretske’s theory can be put as follows: S has a privileged way of knowing what she thinks, but she has no privileged way of knowing that she thinks it. There is much to be said on behalf of conciliatory skepticism (“CS” for short) and Dretske’s defense of it. We aim to show, however, that (...) Dretske’s defense fails, in that (in part) if his defense of CS’s skeptical half succeeds, then his defense of CS’s conciliatory half fails. We then suggest a potential way forward. We suggest in particular that the correct way of being a Dretskean conciliatory skeptic is to deny that S has a privileged way of knowing about her thoughts, but to grant that she is nonetheless an authority on her thoughts. (shrink)
This is a review essay of Quassim Cassam, Self-Knowledge for Humans (Oxford, 2014) and John Doris, Talking to Our Selves (Oxford, 2015). In it I question whether Cassam succeeds in his challenge to Richard Moran's account of first-personal authority, and whether Doris is right that experimental evidence for unconscious influences on behavior generates skeptical worries on accounts that regard accurate self-knowledge as a precondition of agency.
Our ability to tell stories about ourselves has captivated many theorists, and some have taken these developments for an opportunity to answer long-standing questions about the nature of personhood. In this essay I employ two skeptical arguments to show that this move was a mistake. The first argument rests on the observation that storytelling is revisionary. The second implies that our stories about ourselves are biased in regard to our existing self-image. These arguments undercut narrative theories of identity, but they (...) leave room for a theory of narrative self-knowledge. The theory accommodates the first skeptical argument because there are event descriptions with retrospective assertibility conditions, and it accommodates the second argument by denying us epistemic privilege in regard to our own past. The result is that we do know our past through storytelling, but that it is a contingent feature of some of our stories that they are about ourselves. (shrink)
One distinct interest in self-knowledge concerns whether one can know about one’s own mental states and processes, how much, and by what methods. One broad distinction is between accounts that centrally claim that we look inward for self-knowledge (introspective methods) and those that claim that we look outward for self-knowledge (transparency methods). It is here argued that neither method is sufficient, and that we see this as soon as we move beyond questions about knowledge of one’s beliefs, (...) focusing instead on how one distinguishes, for oneself, one’s veridical visual memories from mere (non-veridical) visual images. Given robust psychological and phenomenal similarities between episodic memories and mere imagery, the following is a genuine question that one might pose to oneself: “Do I actually remember that happening, or am I just imagining it?” After critical analysis of the transparency method (advocated by Byrne 2010, following Evans 1982) to this latter epistemological question, a brief sketch is offered of a more holistic and inferential method for acquisition of broader self-knowledge (broadly following the interpretive-sensory access account of Carruthers 2011). In a slogan, knowing more of the mind requires using more of the mind. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is to argue that what I call the simple theory of introspection can be extended to account for our introspective knowledge of what we believe as well as what we consciously experience. In section one, I present the simple theory of introspection and motivate the extension from experience to belief. In section two, I argue that extending the simple theory provides a solution to Moore’s paradox by explaining why believing Moorean conjunctions always involves some degree (...) of irrationality. In section three, I argue that it also solves the puzzle of transparency by explaining why it’s rational to answer the question whether one believes that p by answering the question whether p. Finally, in section four, I defend the simple theory against objections by arguing that self-knowledge constitutes an ideal of rationality. (shrink)
ABSTRACTThis paper argues that confabulation is motivated by the desire to have fulfilled a rational obligation to knowledgeably explain our attitudes by reference to motivating reasons. This account better explains confabulation than alternatives. My conclusion impacts two discussions. Primarily, it tells us something about confabulation – how it is brought about, which engenders lively debate in and of itself. A further upshot concerns self-knowledge. Contrary to popular assumption, confabulation cases give us reason to think we have distinctive access to (...) why we have our attitudes. (shrink)
One of the most provocative projects in recent analytic philosophy has been the development of the doctrine of externalism, or, as it is often called, anti-individualism. While there is no agreement as to whether externalism is true or not, a number of recent investigations have begun to explore the question of what follows if it is true. One of the most interesting of these investigations thus far has been the question of whether externalism has consequences for the doctrine that we (...) have authoritative, a priori self-knowledge of our mental states. The selected works presented in this volume, some previously published, some new, are representative of this debate and open up new questions and issues for philosophical investigation, including the connection between externalism, self-knowledge, epistemic warrant, and memory. (shrink)
We argue that the value of authenticity does not explain the value of self-knowledge. There are a plurality of species of authenticity; in this paper we consider four species: avoiding pretense (section 2), Frankfurtian wholeheartedness (section 3), existential self-knowledge (section 4), and spontaneity (section 5). Our thesis is that, for each of these species, the value of (that species of) authenticity does not (partially) explain the value of self-knowledge. Moreover, when it comes to spontaneity, the value of (...) (that species of) authenticity conflicts with the value of self-knowledge. (shrink)
What is involved in the consciousness of a conscious, "occurrent" propositional attitude, such as a thought, a sudden conjecture or a conscious decision? And what is the relation of such consciousness to attention? I hope the intrinsic interest of these questions provides sufficient motivation to allow me to start by addressing them. We will not have a full understanding either of consciousness in general, nor of attention in general, until we have answers to these questions. I think there are constitutive (...) features of these states which can be identified by broadly philosophical investigation, and in the early part of this paper I will try to do some of that identification. -/- Beyond the intrinsic interest of the topic, the nature of such conscious attitudes is highly pertinent to a philosophical account of psychological self-knowledge. So I will also say something about the significance of the constitutive features of these conscious attitudes for a philosophical account of how it can be that a thinker has a distinctive kind of knowledge of some of his mental states. The general challenge in this area is to find anything intermediate between the unexceptionable but uninformative, on the one hand, and the absolutely unbelievable on the other. (shrink)
This essay motivates a revised version of the epistemic condition of safety and then employs the revision to (i) challenge traditional conceptions of apriority, (ii) refute ‘strong privileged access’, and (iii) resolve a well-known puzzle about externalism and self-knowledge.
How does one know one's own beliefs, intentions, and other attitudes? Many responses to this question are broadly empiricist, in that they take self-knowledge to be epistemically based in empirical justification or warrant. Empiricism about self-knowledge faces an influential objection: that it portrays us as mere observers of a passing cognitive show, and neglects the fact that believing and intending are things we do, for reasons. According to the competing, agentialist conception of self-knowledge, our capacity for (...) class='Hi'>self-knowledge derives from our rational agency—our ability to conform our attitudes to our reasons, and to commit ourselves to those attitudes through avowals. This paper has two goals. The first is exegetical: to identify agentialism's defining thesis and precisely formulate the agentialist challenge to empiricism. The second goal is to defend empiricism from the agentialist challenge. I propose a way to understand the role of agency in reasoning and avowals, one that does justice to what is distinctive about these phenomena yet is compatible with empiricism about self-knowledge. (shrink)
There is widely assumed to be a fundamental epistemological asymmetry between self-knowledge and knowledge of others. They are said to be ’categorically different in kind and manner’ , and the existence of such an asymmetry is taken to be a primitive datum in accounts of the two kinds of knowledge. I argue that standard accounts of the differences between self-knowledge and knowledge of others exaggerate and misstate the asymmetry. The inferentialist challenge to the asymmetry focuses on the extent (...) to which both self-knowledge and knowledge of others are matters of inference and interpretation. In the case of self-knowledge I focus on the so-called ‘transparency method’ and on the extent to which use of this method delivers inferential self-knowledge. In the case of knowledge of others’ thoughts, I discuss the role of perception as a source of such knowledge and argue that even so-called ’perceptual’ knowledge of other minds is inferential. I contend that the difference between self-knowledge and knowledge of others is a difference in the kinds of evidence on which they are typically based. (shrink)
remarks some lessons about self-knowledge (and some other self-relations) as well as use them to throw some light on what might seem to be a fairly distant area of philosophy, namely, Sartre's view of the person as of a divided nature, divided between what he calls the self-as-facticity and the self-as-transcendence. I hope it will become clear that there is not just perversity on my part in bringing together Wittgenstein and the last great Cartesian. One specific connection that will (...) occupy me here is their shared hostility to the idea of theoretical certainty as our model for the authority of ordinary self-knowledge, and their relating of such a theoretical model to specific forms of self-alienation. This, in turn, is related to another concern they share, a concern with the difficulties, philosophical and otherwise, in conceiving of oneself as but one person in the world among others. (shrink)
Abstract: This paper considers the question of whether it is possible to be mistaken about the content of our first-order intentional states. For proponents of the rational agency model of self-knowledge, such failures might seem very difficult to explain. On this model, the authority of self-knowledge is not based on inference from evidence, but rather originates in our capacity, as rational agents, to shape our beliefs and other intentional states. To believe that one believes that p, on this (...) view, constitutes one's belief that p and so self-knowledge involves a constitutive relation between first- and second-order beliefs. If this is true, it is hard to see how those second-order beliefs could ever be false.I develop two counter-examples which show that despite the constitutive relation between first- and second-order beliefs in standard cases of self-knowledge, it is possible to be mistaken, and even self-deceived, about the content of one's own beliefs. These counter-examples do not show that the rational agency model is mistaken—rather, they show that the possibility of estrangement from one's own mental life means that, even within the rational agency model, it is possible to have false second-order beliefs about the content of one's first-order beliefs. The authority of self-knowledge does not entail that to believe that one believes that p suffices to make it the case that one believes that p. (shrink)
This volume brings together some of the most important and influential recent writings on knowledge of oneself and of one's own thoughts, sensations, and experiences. The essays give valuable insights into such fundamental philosophical issues as personal identity, the nature of consciousness, the relation between mind and body, and knowledge of other minds. Contributions include "Introduction" by Gilbert Ryle, "Knowing One's Own Mind" by Donald Davidson, "Individualism and Self-Knowledge" and "Introspection and the Self" by Sydney Shoemaker, "On the Observability (...) of the Self" by Roderick M. Chisholm, "Introspection" by D. M. Armstrong, "The First Person" by G. E. M. Anscombe, "On the Phenomeno-Logic of the I" by Hector-Neri Casta((n-))eda, "The Problem of the Essential Indexical" by John Perry, "Self-Identification" by Gareth Evans, and "The First Person--and Others" by P. F. Strawson. The only reader of its kind, Self-Knowledge fills a major gap in the history of philosophy and will be an accessible addition to a wide range of courses. (shrink)
The question of whether content externalism poses a threat to the traditional view of self-knowledge has been much debated. Compatibilists have tried to diffuse the threat by appealing to the self-verifying character of reflexive judgments about our own thoughts, while incompatibilists have strenuously objected that this does not suffice. In my paper I argue that this debate is fundamentally misconceived since it is based, on both sides, on the problematic notion of ‘knowledge of content’. What this shows, I argue, (...) is not that content externalism is unobjectionable, but that the real challenge to content externalism is not an epistemological one. The real difficulty concerns the content externalist’s seemingly necessary commitment to the idea that individuals have an incomplete grasp of the concepts that go into their own thoughts. This idea poses a threat not to self-knowledge, I argue, but rather to our first- and second-order reasoning abilities. (shrink)
I critically discuss the account of self-knowledge presented in Dorit Bar-On’s Speaking My Mind (OUP 2004), focusing on Bar-On’s understanding of what makes our capacity for self-knowledge puzzling and on her ‘neo-expressivist’ solution to the puzzle. I argue that there is an important aspect of the problem of self-knowledge that Bar-On’s account does not sufficiently address. A satisfying account of self-knowledge must explain not merely how we are able to make accurate avowals about our own present (...) mental states, but how we can reasonably regard ourselves as entitled to claim self-knowledge. Addressing this aspect of the problem of self-knowledge requires confronting questions about the metaphysical nature of mental states, questions that Bar-On’s approach seeks to avoid. (shrink)
Recently influential “rationalist” views of self-knowledge about our rational attitudes hold that such self-knowledge is essentially connected to rational agency, and therefore has to be particularly reliable, immediate, and distinct from third-personal access. This approach has been challenged by “theory theory” or “interpretationist” views of self-knowledge: on such views, self-knowledge is based on the interpretation of information about ourselves, and this interpretation involves the same mindreading mechanisms that we use to access other persons’ mental states. Interpretationist (...) views are usually dismissed as implausible and unwarranted by advocates of rationalism. In this article, I argue that rationalists should revise their attitude towards interpretationism: they can, and ought to, accept themselves a form of interpretationism. First, I argue that interpretationism is correct at least for a substantive range of cases. These are cases in which we respond to a question ab.. (shrink)
In two previous papers I explained why I believe that a certain sort of argument that seems to support skepticism about self-knowledge is actually self-undermining, in the sense that no one can justifiably accept all of its premises at once. Anthony Brueckner has recently tried to show that even if the central premises of my explanation are true, the skeptical argument in question is not self-undermining. He has also suggested that even if the skeptical argument is self-undermining, it can (...) still serve as a _reductio ad absurdum of the assumption that we have self-knowledge. My goal in this paper is to explain why I think neither of these responses is successful. (shrink)
Today, philosophers interested in self-knowledge usually look to the scholastic tradition, where the topic is addressed in a systematic and familiar way. Contemporary conceptions of what medieval figures thought about self-knowledge thus skew toward the epistemological. In so doing, however, they often fail to capture the crucial ethical and theological importance that self-knowledge possesses throughout the Middle Ages. -/- Human beings are not transparent to themselves: in particular, knowing oneself in the way needed for moral progress requires (...) hard and rigorous work. Yet, medieval contemplatives insist, without this work we will never attain our final end. In this paper, I trace the connection drawn in this tradition between self-knowledge, humility, and self-fulfillment, arguing in section 1 that the humility that results from introspection needs to be understood in the context of contemplative expectations for eventual perfection. Self-knowledge is key for developing the relationship with God that leads to mystical union, but (as I show in section 2) in the affective tradition of the 13th-14th centuries, which emphasizes the role of emotion and the body, such union with God tends to restore rather than annihilate us. In fact, I argue in section 3, the outcome of such union even in this life is often knowledge that benefits not only the individual who experiences it but also their broader community. (shrink)
How do we know when we have imagined something? How do we distinguish our imaginings from other kinds of mental states we might have? These questions present serious, if often overlooked, challenges for theories of introspection and self-knowledge. This paper looks specifically at the difficulties imagination creates for Neo-Expressivist, outward-looking, and inner sense theories of self-knowledge. A path forward is then charted, by considering the connection between the kinds of situations in which we can reliably say that another (...) person is imagining, and those in which we can say the same about ourselves. This view is a variation on the outward-looking approach, and preserves much of the spirit of Neo-Expressivism. (shrink)
In her recent book Anti-Individualism and Knowledge, Jessica Brown has presented a novel answer to the self-knowledge achievement problem facing the proponent of anti-individualism. She argues that her answer is to be preferred to the traditional answer (based on Burge, 1988a). Here I present three objections to the claim that her proposed answer is to be preferred. The significance of these objections lies in what they tell us about the nature of the sort of knowledge that is in dispute. (...) Perhaps the most important lesson I draw from this discussion is that, given the nature of knowledge of one's own thoughts, discriminability (from relevant alternatives) is not a condition on knowledge as such. (shrink)
It is widely accepted that knowledge of certain of one’s own mental states is authoritative in being epistemically more secure than knowledge of the mental states of others, and theories of self-knowledge have largely appealed to one or the other of two sources to explain this special epistemic status. The first, ‘detectivist’, position, appeals to an inner perception-like basis, whereas the second, ‘constitutivist’, one, appeals to the view that the special security awarded to certain self-knowledge is a conceptual (...) matter. I argue that there is a fundamental class of cases of authoritative self-knowledge, ones in which subjects are consciously thinking about their current, conscious intentional states, that is best accounted for in terms of a theory that is, broadly speaking, introspectionist and detectivist. The position developed has an intuitive plausibility that has inspired many who work in the Cartesian tradition, and the potential to yield a single treatment of the basis of authoritative self-knowledge for both intentional states and sensation states. (shrink)
The Identity Thesis, proposed by Reid for the case of sensations, and extended by Brentano to conscious states generally, says that a state is conscious iff it is identical with introspective knowledge of its own instantiation. The Thesis offers simple explanations of a number of puzzling features of introspective self-knowledge, and unites the problems of introspection, consciousness and knowledge in the single problem of the metaphysical nature of conscious states. It does nothing to solve the latter problem, but it (...) does entail that a functionalist account of consciousness is incomplete without an exact functionalist definition of knowledge itself. (shrink)
Several authors have argued that, assuming we have apriori knowledge of our own thought-contents, semantic externalism implies that we can know apriori contingent facts about the empirical world. After presenting the argument, I shall respond by resisting the premise that an externalist can know apriori: If s/he has the concept water, then water exists. In particular, Boghossian's Dry Earth example suggests that such thought-experiments do not provide such apriori knowledge. Boghossian himself rejects the Dry Earth experiment, however, since it would (...) imply that externalism is true of empty concepts as well as non-empty concepts. Yet in this paper I respond by defending empty-concept externalism, from criticisms suggested by Boghossian and Brown, and recently developed further by Besson. My contention is that an externalist can give a non-ad hoc descriptivist account of empty concepts. Accordingly, apriori self-knowledge does not enable an externalist to know contingent features of the external world. (shrink)
In this paper I provide an outline of a new kind of constitutive account of self-knowledge. It is argued that in order for the model properly to explain transparency, a further category of propositional attitudes—called “commitments”—has to be countenanced. It is also maintained that constitutive theories can’t remain neutral on the issue of the possession of psychological concepts, and a proposal about the possession of the concept of belief is sketched. Finally, it is claimed that in order for a (...) constitutive account properly to explain authority, it has to take a rather dramatic constructivist turn, which makes it suitable as an explanation of self-knowledge only for a limited class of mental states. (shrink)
With this provocative book, Quassim Cassam aspires to reorient the philosophical study of self-knowledge so as to bring its methodology and subject matter into line with recognizably human concerns. He pursues this reorientation on two fronts. He proposes replacing what he sees as the field’s standard subject, an ideally rational being he calls Homo Philosophicus, with a more realistic Homo Sapiens. And he proposes shifting the field’s primary focus from ‘narrow epistemological concerns’ to issues reflecting ‘what matters to humans’, (...) such as knowledge of one’s own character and the moral significance of self-knowledge. Cassam also contributes to this field: he advances an inferentialist account of self-knowledge and a moderate instrumentalism about self-knowledge’s value. (shrink)
Tyler Burge and other externalists about mental content have tried to accommodate privileged self-knowledge and to neutralize skepticism about one's ability to authoritatively know one's present thoughts. I show that, though Burgean compatibilism explains knowing it is p I believe, it doesn't explain how I can have privileged knowledge that the state I occupy is a state of believing rather than, say, a state of doubting. Moreover, given externalism, self-knowledge of attitudinal component is vulnerable to a certain kind (...) of error and so doesn't have the same kind of privilege as self-knowledge of current content. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is to provide an account of a certain variety of self-deception based on a model of self-knowledge. According to this model, one thinks that one has a belief on the basis of one’s grounds for that belief. If this model is correct, then our thoughts about which beliefs we have should be in accordance with our grounds for those beliefs. I suggest that the relevant variety of self deception is a failure of self-knowledge (...) wherein the subject violates this epistemic obligation. I argue that construing this type of self-deception as a failure of selfknowledge explains two important aspects of it: The tension that we observe between the subject’s speech and her actions, and our inclination to hold the subject responsible for her condition. I compare this proposal with two other approaches to self-deception in the literature; intentionalism and motivationalism. Intentionalism explains the two aspects of self-deception but it runs into the so called ‘paradoxes’ of self-deception. Motivationalism avoids those paradoxes but it cannot explain the two aspects of self-deception. (shrink)
Is it ethical to deceive the individuals who participate in psychological experiments for methodological reasons? We argue against an absolute ban on the use of deception in psychological research. The potential benefits of many psychological experiments involving deception consist in allowing individuals and society to gain morally significant self-knowledge that they could not otherwise gain. Research participants gain individual self-knowledge which can help them improve their autonomous decision-making. The community gains collective self-knowledge that, once shared, can play (...) a role in shaping education, informing policies and in general creating a more efficient and just society. (shrink)
This introduction is part of the special issue ‘ Self-knowledge in perspective’ guest edited by Fleur Jongepier and Derek Strijbos. // Papers included in the special issue: Transparency, expression, and self-knowledge Dorit Bar-On -/- Self-knowledge and communication Johannes Roessler -/- First-person privilege, judgment, and avowal Kateryna Samoilova -/- Self-knowledge about attitudes: rationalism meets interpretation Franz Knappik -/- How do you know that you settled a question? Tillmann Vierkant -/- On knowing one’s own resistant beliefs Cristina Borgoni (...) -/- Self-knowledge and imagination Peter Langland-Hassan -/- Transparent emotions? A critical analysis of Moran’s transparency claim Naomi Kloosterboer -/- Mind-making practices: the social infrastructure of self-knowing agency and responsibility Victoria McGeer -/- Pluralistic folk psychology and varieties of self-knowledge : an exploration Kristin Andrews -/-. (shrink)
The self-notion is an essential constituent of any self-belief or self-knowledge. But what is the self-notion? In this paper, I tie together several themes from the philosophy of John Perry to explain how he answers this question. The self-notion is not just any notion that happens to be about the person in whose mind that notion appears, because it's possible to have ways of thinking about oneself that one doesn't realize are about oneself. Characterizing the self-notion properly (and hence (...) self-belief and self-knowledge) requires understanding the role of that notion in tracking agent-relative information and motivating normally self-effecting ways of acting. [Note: the file here is an uncorrected proof. Please see the final book, now called _Identity, Language, and Mind_, for citation purposes.]. (shrink)
This paper addresses the question of a subject's knowledge of his or her own mental states. My interest, in particular, is in an appeal to the concepts of mode and activity when explaining our ability to self-ascribe beliefs. Ultimately, I sketch an agency account of self-knowledge that avoids the excessive rationalism of positions such as Moran's and Boyle's.