"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)
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)
Humans are not model epistemic citizens. Our reasoning can be careless, our beliefs eccentric, and our desires irrational. Quassim Cassam develops a new account of self-knowledge which recognises this feature of human life. He argues that self-knowledge is a genuine cognitive achievement, and that self-ignorance is almost always on the cards.
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)
In this award-winning study of the _Phaedrus_, Charles Griswold focuses on the theme of "self-knowledge." Relying on the principle that form and content are equally important to the dialogue's meaning, Griswold shows how the concept of self-knowledge unifies the profusion of issues set forth by Plato. Included are a new preface and an updated comprehensive bibliography of works on the _Phaedrus_.
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)
Humans are not model epistemic citizens. Our reasoning can be careless, our beliefs eccentric, and our desires irrational. Quassim Cassam develops a new account of self-knowledge which recognises this feature of human life. He argues that self-knowledge is a genuine cognitive achievement, and that self-ignorance is almost always on the cards.
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)
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.
We enjoy immediate knowledge of our own limbs and bodies. I argue that this knowledge, which is also called proprioception, is a special form of perception, special in that it is, unlike perception by the external senses, at the same time also a form of genuine self-knowledge. The argument has two parts. Negatively, I argue against the view, held by G. E. M. Anscombe and strengthened by John McDowell, that this knowledge, bodily self-knowledge, (...) is non-perceptual. This involves, inter alia, rescuing from McDowell’s attack the very idea of receptive self-knowledge. On the positive side, I develop, by drawing on the work of Brian O’Shaughnessy, a detailed account of bodily self-knowledge as a special form of perception. This account spells out how this special form of perception is epistemologically mediated by sensations of a special class of primary qualities—vital-dynamic sensations as I call them—in one’s limbs. (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)
Richard Moran’s Authority and Estrangement offers a subtle and tantalizing exploration of asymmetries that arise between first-person and third-person self-knowledge. According to Moran’s central claim, the distinction of first-person self-knowledge is to engage the responsibility of the person. I will focus my remarks on this issue. I wish to raise some questions about the nature of the third-person perspective, and about how assuming it affects the responsibility of the person. In this connection, I examine in some (...) detail Moran’s main examples of third-person loss of responsibility. Moran’s discussions are rich and provocative, and the questions I sketch out all too briefly here are primarily pleas for clarification. (shrink)
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 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)
This paper is about the role of self-knowledge in the cognitive life of a virtuous knower. The main idea is that it is hard to know ourselves because introspection is an unreliable epistemic source, and reason can be a source of insidious forms of self-deception. Nevertheless, our epistemic situation is such that an epistemically responsible agent must be constantly looking for a better understanding of her own character traits and beliefs, under the risk of jeopardizing her own (...) status as a knower, ruining her own intellectual life. (shrink)
In this clear and reasoned discussion of self- knowledge and the self, the author asks whether it is really possible to know ourselves as we really are. He illuminates issues about the nature of self-identity which are of fundamental importance in moral psychology, epistemology and literary criticism. Jopling focuses on the accounts of Stuart Hampshire, Jean-Paul Sartre and Richard Rorty, and dialogical philosophical psychology and illustrates his argument with examples from literature, drama and psychology.
Robert Dunn, David Finkelstein and Richard Moran have recently contributed to broadening the debate on self-knowledge within the analytic tradition. They raise questions concerning the sort of awareness that may have a healing effect in psychoanalytic therapy, and enhance the relevance to self-knowledge of a deliberative, and practically committed, attitude toward oneself. They reject, however, that self-observation could play a significant role in a strictly first-person attitude toward oneself, since they conceive of it as essentially (...) detached and, in this respect, similar to the kind of attitude that a third party might adopt. I will appeal to Simone Weil's distinction between two sorts obedience and to the contrast between two characters in *The Karamazov Brothers* to elucidate a kind of self-awareness that involves a kind of observation that is constitutively committed. This line of reasoning will also serve to elucidate a fundamental sort of self-knowledge that derives from the subject's capacity to acknowledge her own position within the ethical world and is closely associated to the goal of psychoanalytic therapy. (shrink)
This article is about self-knowledge on one's own mental states. Considering human as rational beings, this study aims to problematize the position of subject in process of self-knowledge, as well as to realize the state of knowledge about self-knowledge. In this way, Richard Moran constitutes the method of transparency about the knowledge of one's own mental states. Such a method receives some criticism from the philosopher Quassim Cassam and the philosopher Brie-Gertler. In (...) the same extent, both authors problematize some characteristics of self-knowledge, in which criticism reaches some points studied by Brazilian philosophers, namely Paulo Farias, Waldomiro Silva Filho and André Abath. The latter two authors are based on Moran's methodology and thus constitute his reflections on conditions of daily life as well as the incomplete understanding of human beings. (shrink)
We are subject with consciousness. For this we have to have self-consciousness so that consciousness can exist. In this way, there is the possibility of self-knowledge of one's own mental states. Thus, the article aims at investigating the possibility of self-knowledge of one's own mental states, their applicability and consequences in relation to Kantian moral theory. Therefore, it reflects on how self-knowledge of one's own mental states and the characteristics of Kantian moral theory (...) occur. Finally, there is the possibility of moral responsibility for one's own mental states related to Kantian morality and the method of self-knowledge of the very action of the moral agent. (shrink)
Persons interested in developing virtue will find attending to, and attempting to act on, the right reason for action a rich resource for developing virtue. In this paper I consider the role of self-knowledge in intentional moral development. I begin by making a general case that because improving one’s moral character requires intimate knowledge of its components and their relation to right reason, the aim of developing virtue typically requires the development of self-knowledge. I next (...) turn to Kant’s ethics for an account which explains the reflexivity involved in moral reasoning generally, and the significance of self-knowledge to morality. I then take up Robert Audi’s interesting notion of the harnessing and unharnessing of reasons as a potential way of strengthening the agent’s connection to right reason, and his concerns about our limited and indirect resources for becoming virtuous. I argue that harnessing and unharnessing are not plausibly characterized as activities to be accomplished by an exertion of will, rather they involve a dynamic, cognitive, reflective attempt to gain self-knowledge and align oneself with one’s moral reasons for action. (shrink)
Written by an international team of leading scholars, this collection of thirteen new essays explores the implications of semantic externalism for self-knowledge and skepticism, bringing recent developments in the philosophy of mind, the philosophy of language, and epistemology to bear on the issue. Structured in three parts, the collection looks at self-knowledge, content transparency, and then meta-semantics and the nature of mental content. The chapters examine a wide range of topics in the philosophy of mind and (...) the philosophy of language, including 2D semantics, transparency views of self-knowledge, and theories of linguistic understanding, as well as epistemological debates on contextualism, contrastivism, pragmatic encroachment, anti-luminosity arguments and testimony. The scope of the volume will appeal to graduate students and researchers in epistemology, philosophy of mind, philosophy of language, cognitive science, psychology and linguistics. (shrink)
Some self-knowledge must be arrived at by the subject herself, rather than being transmitted by another’s testimony. Yet in many cases the subject interacts with an expert in part because she is likely to have the relevant knowledge of their mind. This raises a question: what is the expert’s knowledge like that there are barriers to simply transmitting it by testimony? I argue that the expert’s knowledge is, in some circumstances, proleptic, referring to attitudes the (...) subject would hold were she to reflect in certain ways. The expert’s knowledge cannot be transmitted by testimony because self-knowledge cannot be proleptic. (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)
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.
All medieval philosophers in the Aristotelian tradition agreed that the human intellect is not only able to know other things, but also itself. But how should that be possible? Which cognitive mechanisms are required for self-knowledge? This chapter examines three models that attempted to answer this fundamental question: (i) Thomas Aquinas referred to higher-order acts that make first-order acts and eventually also the intellect itself cognitively present, (ii) Matthew of Aquasparta appealed to introspection, (iii) Dietrich of Freiberg claimed (...) that no special cognitive process is necessary because the intellect is by nature always fully present to itself. An analysis of these three models shows that scholastic philosophers intended to provide an epistemological foundation for the explanation of Socratic self-knowledge. (shrink)
Shankara was born in the eighth century on the west coast of south India. After devoting himself to yoga practices and meditation, Shankara wrote commentaries on the Bhagavad Gita, some of the Upanishads and other scriptures, and travelled throughout India declaring the oneness of a supreme reality and refuting erroneous philosophical doctrines. He reorganized the ancient, renunciate swami order and established permanent monastic centres in four regions of India: Sringeri in the south, Puri in the east, Dwaraka in the west, (...) and Badrinath in the Himalayas. Shankara lived during an era when Sanatana Dharma was beginning to be more widely emphasized, authoritative leadership was lacking, and conflicting religious sects were promoting a variety of philosophical opinions. His emphasis on the oneness of a supreme reality and the divinity of each person was a harmonizing influence. Besides expounding his non-dualistic views as presented in Self-Knowledge, he also wrote poems and composed hymns to reverently honour a variety of gods and goddesses to inspire and encourage people in all walks of life to be devoted to right living and spiritual practices. (shrink)
The acquisition of self-knowledge is often described as one of the main goals of philosophical inquiry. At the same time, some sort of self-knowledge is often regarded as a necessary condition of our being a human agent or human subject. Thus self-knowledge is taken to constitute both the beginning and the end of humans' search for wisdom, and as such it is intricately bound up with the very idea of philosophy. Not surprisingly therefore, the (...) Delphic injunction 'Know thyself' has fascinated philosophers of different times, backgrounds, and tempers. But how can we make sense of this imperative? What is self-knowledge and how is it achieved? What are the structural features that distinguish self-knowledge from other types of knowledge? What role do external, second- and third-personal, sources of knowledge play in the acquisition of self-knowledge? How can we account for the moral impact ascribed to self-knowledge? Is it just a form of anthropological knowledge that allows agents to act in accordance with their aims? Or, does self-knowledge ultimately ennoble the self of the subjects having it? Finally, is self-knowledge, or its completion, a goal that may be reached at all? The book addresses these questions in fifteen chapters covering approaches of many philosophers from Plato and Aristotle to Edmund Husserl or Elisabeth Anscombe. The short reflections inserted between the chapters show that the search for self-knowledge is an important theme in literature, poetry, painting and self-portraiture from Homer. (shrink)
The paper deals with an argument reported by Razi (d. 1210) that was used to attempt to refute the immateriality of human nature. This argument is based on an epistemic asymmetry between our self-knowledge and our knowledge of immaterial things. After some preliminary remarks, the paper analyzes the structure of the argument in four steps. From a methodological point of view, the argument is similar to a family of epistemological arguments (notably, the Cartesian argument from doubt) and (...) is vulnerable to the same objection that can be raised against that form of reasoning. The last section points out that the argument can be used indirectly to highlight the weakness in some arguments for the claim that there is something immaterial in human beings. (shrink)
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. (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)
Two kinds of epistemological sceptical paradox are reviewed and a shared assumption, that warrant to accept a proposition has to be the same thing as having evidence for its truth, is noted. 'Entitlement', as used here, denotes a kind of rational warrant that counterexemplifies that identification. The paper pursues the thought that there are various kinds of entitlement and explores the possibility that the sceptical paradoxes might receive a uniform solution if entitlement can be made to reach sufficiently far. Three (...) kinds of entitlement are characterized and given prima facie support, and a fourth is canvassed. Certain foreseeable limitations of the suggested antisceptical strategy are noted. The discussion is grounded, overall, in a conception of the sceptical paradoxes not as directly challenging our having any warrant for large classes of our beliefs but as crises of intellectual conscience for one who wants to claim that we do. (shrink)
There have been several recent attempts to account for the special authority of self-knowledge by grounding it in a constitutive relation between an agent's intentional states and her judgments about those intentional states. This constitutive relation is said to hold in virtue of the rationality of the subject. I argue, however, that there are two ways in which we have self-knowledge without there being such a constitutive relation between first-order intentional states and the second-order judgments about (...) them. Recognition of this fact thus represents a significant challenge to the rational agency view. (shrink)
Available from UMI in association with The British Library. Requires signed TDF. ;This work examines some of the epistemological and ontological conditions of the deep self-knowledge that is demanded by the Delphic motto gnothi seauton . The guiding questions are: what is the 'self' that deep self-knowledge is of? What are we such that we can ask deep and puzzling questions about our life-plans, our self-conceptions and the meaning of our lives? Can we know (...) ourselves as we really are, or only under a certain description which conceals as much as it reveals? What is the nature of the relation between self-knowledge and reality? ;The central thesis that is defended is that a person is to a certain extent a self-defining and self-forming being by virtue of his self-knowledge; fundamental changes in how he knows himself, and conceives his way of life, his life-history, emotions, final ends, death etc.--particularly in light of fundamental practical questions --necessarily occasion changes in what he is. What he is at any one moment in his life is in part constituted by his self-knowledge. ;To account for the complex 'inter-relation' between self-knowledge and its object, and the possibility of self-formation, a broadly Kantian theory of constituting activity is developed, as well as a theory of the empirical 'under-determination' of self-knowledge. The peculiarity of self-knowledge is that the knower is the known, and that he is active with respect to the object known ; the object of knowledge and the knowing subject change and extend their range together. This complicates some of the claims of realism and the correspondence theory of truth: self-knowledge is not a matter of the strict conformity of beliefs or conceptions to an independent, determinate and unchanging reality. In Kantian terms, the object of self-knowledge conforms to the conditions of knowledge. ;This broadly Kantian approach is brought to the analysis of Hampshire and Sartre's theories, which are studied as illustrations of the general ontological and epistemological conditions of self-knowledge. Other issues that are discussed include the problem of truth conditions in deep self-knowledge, the agent-observer dualism in self-inquiry, the relational model of the self, and Iris Murdoch's critique of Hampshire and Sartre. (shrink)
As the pre-eminent Enlightenment philosopher, Kant famously calls on all humans to make up their own minds, independently from the constraints imposed on them by others. Kant's focus, however, is on universal human reason, and he tells us little about what makes us individual persons. In this book, Katharina T. Kraus explores Kant's distinctive account of psychological personhood by unfolding how, according to Kant, we come to know ourselves as such persons. Drawing on Kant's Critical works and on his Lectures (...) and Reflections, Kraus develops the first textually comprehensive and systematically coherent account of our capacity for what Kant calls 'inner experience'. The novel view of self-knowledge and self-formation in Kant that she offers addresses present-day issues in philosophy of mind and will be relevant for contemporary philosophical debates. It will be of interest to scholars of the history of philosophy, as well as of philosophy of mind and psychology. (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)
This book explores the idea that self-knowledge comes in many varieties. We “know ourselves” through many different methods, depending on whether we attend to our propositional attitudes, our perceptions, sensations or emotions. Furthermore, sometimes what we call “self-knowledge” is not the result of any substantial cognitive achievement and the characteristic authority we grant to our psychological self-ascription is a conceptual necessity, redeemed by unravelling the structure of several interlocking concepts. This book critically assesses the main (...) contemporary positions held on the epistemology of self-knowledge. These include robust epistemic accounts such as inner sense views and theory-theories; weak epistemic accounts such as transparency theories and rational internalism and externalism; as well as expressivist and constitutivist approaches. The author offers an innovative “pluralist” position on self-knowledge, emphasizing the complexity of the phenomenon and its resistance to any “monistic” treatment, to pose new and intriguing philosophical challenges. (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)
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)
Provides links to Internet resources in the field of international relations. Includes resources on diplomacy, history, and politics; economics and international management; international law; international organizations; regional studies; research institutes; United States government resources; and more.
I develop an account of our capacity to know what we consciously believe, which is based on an account of the phenomenology of conscious belief. While other recent authors have suggested that phenomenally conscious states play a role in the epistemology of self-ascriptions of belief, they have failed to give a satisfying account of how exactly the phenomenology is supposed to help with the epistemology — i.e., an account of the way “what it is like” for the subject of (...) a conscious belief makes it rational, for her, to self-ascribe that belief. I argue that an account according to which the phenomenology of belief is transparent — i.e., such that in having a conscious belief one is aware of the world as being a certain way, rather than of anything distinctively mental — is adequate to this task. (shrink)
Psychological externalism is the thesis that the contents of many of a person's propositional mental states are determined in part by relations he bears to his natural and social environment. This thesis has recently been thrust into prominence in the philosophy of mind by a series of thought experiments due to Hilary Putnam and Tyler Burge. Externalism is a metaphysical thesis, but in this work I investigate its implications for the epistemology of the mental. I am primarily concerned with the (...) question whether externalism undermines the idea that a person typically knows the contents of her own thoughts, beliefs, and other propositional attitudes directly and authoritatively. I criticize arguments that have been advanced on behalf of a positive answer to this question, and argue that they rest on a faulty conception of the nature of first person authority, one which likens our access to our own minds to perception. An account of the basis of first person authority is sketched that locates our epistemic right to our self-ascriptions of propositional attitude not in our ability to discriminate among the various thought contents we might be thinking, but rather in our ability to express our thoughts, and to think with them in accordance with the norms of rationality. I consider also the question whether first person authority and externalism jointly make possible a refutation of certain forms of global skepticism, as has been famously argued by Putnam. I argue that Putnam's attempted refutation fails, because the crucial externalist claims that drive it are not knowable a priori. (shrink)
According to inferentialism about self-knowledge of desire, the basic way in which we come to know what we want is through inference. In this paper, I argue that in a wide range of cases of knowing one’s desire, inference is insufficient. In particular, I look at two inferentialist models, one proposed by Krista Lawlor and the other by Alex Byrne and look at the challenges that they face in securing safe self-ascriptions. In response to these difficulties, I (...) argue that we can explain how inferentially based self-ascriptions can be safe when we consider the agent’s role in sustaining their desires through attending and elaborating on the content of desire through imagination. (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)