The purpose of this essay is to account for privilegedaccess or, more precisely, the special kind of epistemic right that we have to some beliefs about our own mental states. My account will have the following two main virtues. First of all, it will only appeal to those conceptual elements that, arguably, we already use in order to account for perceptual knowledge. Secondly, it will constitute a naturalizing account of privilegedaccess in that it does (...) not posit any mysterious faculty of introspection or "inner perception" mechanism. (shrink)
Working from a naïve-realist perspective, I examine first-person knowledge of one's perceptual experience. I outline a naive-realist theory of how subjects acquire knowledge of the nature of their experiences, and I argue that naive realism is compatible with moderate, substantial forms of first-person privilegedaccess. A more general moral of my paper is that treating “success” states like seeing as genuine mental states does not break up the dynamics that many philosophers expect from the phenomenon of knowledge of (...) the mind. (shrink)
Reliabilism is invoked by a standard causal response to the slow switching argument for incompatibilism about mental content externalism and privilegedaccess. Though the response in question is negative, in that it only establishes that, given such an epistemology, externalism does not rule privilegedaccess out, the appeal to reliabilism involves an assumption about the reliability of introspection, an assumption that in turn grounds a simple argument for the positive conclusion that reliabilism itself implies privileged (...)access. This paper offers a two-part defense of that conclusion: the reliabilist account of privilegedaccess is defended both againstarguments in favor of the rival content inheritance strategy and against an argument turning on empirical considerations concerning the individuation of the belief-producing process of introspection. (shrink)
I look at incompatibilist arguments aimed at showing that the conjunction of the thesis that a subject has privileged, a priori access to the contents of her own thoughts, on the one hand, and of semantic externalism, on the other, lead to a putatively absurd conclusion, namely, a priori knowledge of the external world. I focus on arguments involving a variety of externalism resulting from the singularity or object-dependence of certain terms such as the demonstrative ‘that’. McKinsey argues (...) that incompatibilist arguments employing such externalist theses are at their strongest, and conclusively show that privilegedaccess must be rejected. While I agree on the truth of the relevant externalist theses, I show that all plausible versions of the incompatibilist reductio argument as applied to such theses are fundamentally flawed, for these versions of the argument must make assumptions that lead to putatively absurd knowledge of the external world independently of the thesis of privilegedaccess. (shrink)
By exploiting a concept called ways of believing, I offer a plausible reformulation of the doctrine of privilegedaccess. This reformulation will provide us with a defense of compatibilism, the view that content externalism and privilegedaccess are compatible.
When read as demands for justification, these questions seem absurd. We don’t normally ask people to substantiate assertions like “I think it will rain tomorrow” or “I have a headache”. There is, at the very least, a strong presumption that sincere self-attributions about one’s thoughts and feelings are true. In fact, some philosophers believe that such self-attributions are less susceptible to doubt than any other claims. Even those who reject that extreme view generally acknowledge that there is some salient epistemic (...) difference between (a) one’s belief that she thinks it will rain tomorrow, or that she has a headache, and (b) her belief that it is raining, or that another person has a headache. (shrink)
Aaron Zimmerman has recently raised an interesting objection to an account of self-knowledge I have offered. The objection has the form of a dilemma: either it is possible for us to be entitled to beliefs which we do not form, or it is not. If it is, the conditions for introspective justification within the model I advocate are insufficient. If not, they are otiose. I challenge Zimmerman's defence of the first horn of the dilemma.
Carruthers argues that knowledge of our own propositional attitudes is achieved by the same mechanism used to attain knowledge of other people's minds. This seems incompatible with "privilegedaccess"---the idea that we have more reliable beliefs about our own mental states, regardless of the mechanism. At one point Carruthers seems to suggest he may be able to maintain privilegedaccess, because we have additional sensory information in our own case. We raise a number of worries for (...) this suggestion, concluding that Carruthers's new theory cannot clearly preserve the superior reliability of our beliefs about our own attitudes. (shrink)
Boghossian has argued that Putnam's externalism is incompatible with privilegedaccess, i.e., the claim that a subject can have nonempirical knowledge of her thought contents ('What the externalist can know a priori', PAS 1997). Boghossian's argument assumes that Oscar can know a priori that (1) 'water' aims to name a natural kind; and (2) 'water' expresses an atomic concept. However, I show that if Burge's externalism is correct, then these assumptions may well be false. This leaves Boghossian with (...) two options: (a) (heroically) to show that Burge's externalism is false; or (b) to reformulate the argument such that it does not require the two assumptions in question. I suggest one way of reformulating the argument. (shrink)
In this paper, I defend McKinsey's argument (Analysis 1991) that Burge's antiindividualist position is incompatible with privilegedaccess, viz. the claim that each subject can know his own thought contents just by reflection and without having undertaken an empirical investigation. I argue that Burge thinks that there are certain necessary conditions for a subject to have thoughts involving certain sorts of concepts; these conditions are appropriately different for thoughts involving natural kind concepts and thoughts involving non-natural kind concepts. (...) I use Burge's commitment to these entailments to show that his antiindividualist position is incompatible with privilegedaccess. (shrink)
Many philosophers accept a “privilegedaccess” thesis concerning our own present mental states and mental events. According to these philosophers, if I am in mental state (or undergoing mental event) M, then – at least in many cases – I have privilegedaccess to the fact that I am in (or undergoing) M. For instance, if I now believe that my cat is sitting on my lap, then (in normal circumstances) I have privilegedaccess (...) to the fact that I now believe that my cat is sitting on my lap. Similarly, if I now imagine a parade coming down Main Street, then (again, in normal circumstances) I have privilegedaccess to the fact that I am now imagining a parade coming down Main Street. And again, if it now visually appears to me as if there is a cloud in the sky, then (again, in normal circumstances) I have privilegedaccess to the fact that it now visually appears to me as if there is a cloud in the sky. In each of these aforementioned cases, if circumstances are normal, then, these philosophers say, I have a distinctive kind of privileged epistemic access to facts about my own mental states or events. Of course, I don’t have privileged epistemic access to all facts about my own mental states or events. For instance, I don’t have privileged epistemic access to facts about which unconscious mental states or events I have. But I do have privileged epistemic access to many facts about my own mental states or events, and in particular to the various facts listed above. (shrink)
That everyone has some privilegedaccess to some information is trivially true. The doctrine of privilegedaccess is that I am the authority on all of my own experiences. Possibly this thesis was attacked by Wittgenstein (the thesis on the non?existence of private languages). The thesis was refuted by Freud (I know your dreams better than you), Duhem (I know your methods of scientific discovery better than you), Malinowski (I know your customs and habits better than (...) you), and perception theorists (I can make you see things which are not there and describe your perceptions better than you can). The significance of this rejected thesis is that it is the basis of sensationalism and thus of all inductivist and some conventionalist philosophy. (shrink)
I look at incompatibilist arguments aimed at showing that the conjunction of the thesis that a subject has privileged, a priori access to the contents of her own thoughts, on the one hand, and of semantic externalism, on the other, lead to a putatively absurd conclusion, namely, a priori knowledge of the external world. I focus on arguments involving a variety of externalism resulting from the singularity or object‐dependence of certain terms such as the demonstrative ‘that’. McKinsey argues (...) that incompatibilist arguments employing such externalist theses are at their strongest, and conclusively show that privilegedaccess must be rejected. While I agree on the truth of the relevant externalist theses, I show that all plausible versions of the incompatibilist reductio argument as applied to such theses are fundamentally flawed, for these versions of the argument must make assumptions that lead to putatively absurd knowledge of the external world independently of the thesis of privilegedaccess. (shrink)
Many philosophers agree that mental states are subject to privileged first-person access. Exactly what privileged, first-person access means is controversial, but it seems that, while our third-person access to mental states is only indirect because it depends on behavioral observation, first-person access seems to be direct because it depends on no such mediation.
This paper defends the view that a belief to the effect that the believer is currently in some conscious state is "self-Warranted," in the sense that what warrants it is simply its being a belief of that sort. This position is compared with other views as to the epistemic status of such beliefs--That they are warranted by their truth and that they are warranted by an immediate awareness of their object. In the course of the discussion, Various modes of immediate (...) justification and various types of "epistemic immunities" are distinguished. It is contended that principles of justification are to be evaluated in terms of whether the beliefs they approve are likely to be correct. (shrink)