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5.2b. Commitment/Expression-Based Accounts (Commitment/Expression-Based Accounts on PhilPapers)

See also:
Allen, Robert F. (online). The subject is qualia: Paronyms and temporary identity.   (Google)
Bar-On, Dorit & Long, Douglas C. (2001). Avowals and first-person privilege. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 52 (2):311-35.   (Cited by 11 | Google | More links)
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Bar-On, Dorit & Long, Douglas C. (2003). Expressing truths and knowing truths. In Brie Gertler (ed.), Privileged Access: Philosophical Accounts of Self-Knowledge. Ashgate.   (Google)
Bar-On, Dorit (2009). First-person authority: Dualism, constitutivism, and neo-expressivism. Erkenntnis 71 (1).   (Google)
Abstract: What I call “Rorty’s Dilemma” has us caught between the Scylla of Cartesian Dualism and the Charybdis of eliminativism about the mental. Proper recognition of what is distinctively mental requires accommodating incorrigibility about our mental states, something Rorty thinks materialists cannot do. So we must either countenance mental states over and above physical states in our ontology, or else give up altogether on the mental as a distinct category. In section 2, “Materialist Introspectionism—Independence and Epistemic Authority”, I review reasons for being dissatisfied with materialist introspectionism as a way out of the dilemma. In section 3, “Constitutivism”, I outline two constitutivist alternatives to materialist introspectionism. In section 4, “A Neo-Expressivist View”, I offer my neo-expressivist view (defended in Bar-On, Speaking my mind: Expression and self-knowledge. Clarendon Press, Oxford, 2004 ), according to which the distinctive status of mental self-ascriptions is to be explained by appeal to the expressive character of acts of issuing them (in speech or in thought). This view, I argue, allows us to stay clear of eliminativism without committing to Cartesian substance dualism, thereby offering a viable way of slipping between the horns of Rorty’s dilemma
Bar-On, Dorit (ms). Neo-expressivism: Avowals' security and privileged self-knowledge (reply to brueckner) UNC-Chapel hill.   (Google)
Abstract: Here are some things that I know right now: that I’m feeling a bit hungry, that there’s a red cardinal on my bird feeder, that I’m sitting down, that I have a lot of grading to do today, that my daughter is mad at me, that I’ll be going for a run soon, that I’d like to go out to the movies tonight. As orthodoxy would have it, some among these represent things to which I have privileged epistemic access, namely: my present states of mind. I normally know these states directly, immediately, non-inferentially – I know them the way no one else can know them, and in a way I know nothing else. It’s the job of philosophers to tell us scope and source of this selfknowledge and to explain what renders it privileged
Bar-On, Dorit (2010). Précis of Dorit Bar-on's speaking my mind: Expression and self-knowledge. Acta Analytica 25 (1).   (Google)
Bar-On, Dorit (2000). Speaking my mind. Philsophical Topics 28:1-34.   (Cited by 19 | Google | More links)
Bar-On, Dorit (2004). Speaking My Mind: Expression and Self-Knowledge. Oxford University Press.   (Cited by 19 | Google | More links)
Abstract: 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
Boyle, Matthew (2010). Bar-on on self-knowledge and expression. Acta Analytica 25 (1).   (Google)
Abstract: 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
Boyle, Matthew (2009). Two kinds of self-knowledge. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 78 (1):133-164.   (Google)
Abstract: I argue that a variety of influential accounts of self-knowledge are flawed by the assumption that all immediate, authoritative knowledge of our own present mental states is of one basic kind. I claim, on the contrary, that a satisfactory account of self-knowledge must recognize at least two fundamentally different kinds of self-knowledge: an active kind through which we know our own judgments, and a passive kind through which we know our sensations. I show that the former kind of self-knowledge is in an important sense fundamental, since it is intimately connected with the very capacity for rational reflection, and since it must be present in any creature that understands the first-person pronoun. Moreover, I suggest that these thoughts about self-knowledge have a Kantian provenance
Byrne, Alex, Review essay of Dorit Bar-on's speaking my mind.   (Google)
Abstract: “Avowals” are utterances that “ascribe [current] states of mind”; for instance utterances of ‘I have a terrible headache’ and ‘I’m finding this painting utterly puzzling’ (Bar-On 2004: 1). And avowals, “when compared to ordinary empirical reports…appear to enjoy distinctive security” (1), which Bar-On elaborates as follows: A subject who avows being tired, or scared of something, or thinking that p, is normally presumed to have the last word on the relevant matters; we would not presume to criticize her self-ascription or to reject it on the basis of our contrary judgement. Furthermore, unlike ordinary empirical reports, and somewhat like apriori statements, avowals are issued with a very high degree of confidence and are not easily subjected to doubt. (3) The project of this ambitious, original, and challenging book is to explain why avowals have this distinctive security. Bar-On’s guiding idea is that avowals “can be seen as pieces of expressive behavior, similar in certain ways to bits of behavior that naturally express subjects’ states” (227). Crying and moaning are natural expressions of pain, yawning is a natural expression of tiredness, reaching for beer is a natural expression of the desire for beer, and so on. In some important sense, avowals are supposed to be like that. In what sense, though? It will be useful to begin with the simplest answer
Child, William (2006). Memory, expression, and past-tense self-knowledge. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 73 (1):54–76.   (Google | More links)
Child, William (2006). Wittgenstein's externalism: Context, self-knowledge & the past. In Tomáš Marvan (ed.), What Determines Content?: The Internalism/Externalism Dispute. Cambridge Scholars Press.   (Google)
Chrisman, Matthew (2009). Expressivism, truth, and (self-) knowledge. Philosophers' Imprint 9 (3):1-26.   (Google)
Abstract: In this paper, I consider the prospects of two different kinds of expressivism – ethical expressivism and avowal expressivism – in light of two common objections. The first objection stems from the fact that it is natural to think of ethical statements and avowals as at least potential manifestations of knowledge. The second objection stems from the fact that it is natural to treat ethical statements and avowals as truth-evaluable. I argue that, although a recent avowal expressivist attempt (Bar-On 2004) to meet the second objection may succeed, the related response to the first objection threatens to undermine the principal advantages of that view. Then, I argue that although recent ethical expressivist attempts (especially Blackburn 1998 and Gibbard 2003) to meet the first objection are successful, the related response to the second objection threatens to undermine the principal advantages of that view. This suggests a cross-pollination of defensive strategies, which I go on to explore in order to articulate the theoretical commitments one must take on to make either cross-pollinated position work in the face of both objections. In light of this, I suggest that the prospects for the resulting ethical expressivist position are considerably better than the prospects for the resulting avowal expressivist position, though both positions involve significant theoretical costs
Corbí, Josep E. (forthcoming). First-person authority and self-knowledge as an achievement. European Journal of Philosophy.   (Google)
Abstract: Abstract : There is much that I admire in Richard Moran's account of how first-person authority may be consistent with self-knowledge as an achievement. In this paper, I examine his attempt to characterize the goal of psychoanalytic treatment, which is surely that the patient should go beyond the mere theoretical acceptance of the analyst's interpretation, and requires instead a more intimate, first-personal, awareness by the patient of their psychological condition. I object, however, that the way in which Moran distinguishes between the deliberative and the theoretical attitudes is ultimately inconsistent with a satisfactory account of psychoanalytic practice; mainly because, despite Moran's claims to the contrary, such a distinction is still inspired by a Cartesian picture of the self. I argue that, in the light of his distinction, Moran may emphasize that an agent's psychological dispositions should be permeable to her decisions and projects, but is forced to reject the idea that permeability could go the other way too. I explore Bernard Williams' notion of acknowledgment and Simone Weil's distinction between two notions of necessity, in order to articulate a notion of receptive passivity which may help us to characterize this second direction of permeability. I finally outline why receptive passivity (and, thereby, the double direction of permeability) is crucial in order to identify the goal of psychoanalytic treatment and, derivatively, to understand how a certain kind of awareness may have a significant therapeutic effect
Eldridge, Richard (2003). Authority and estrangement: An essay on self-knowledge. Philosophical Investigations 26 (4):360–368.   (Google | More links)
Falvey, Kevin (2000). The basis of first-person authority. Philosophical Topics 28 (2):69-99.   (Cited by 4 | Google)
Abstract: This paper develops an account of the distinctive epistemic authority of avowals of propositional attitude, focusing on the case of belief. It is argued that such avowals are expressive of the very mental states they self-ascribe. This confers upon them a limited self-warranting status, and renders them immune to an important class of errors to which paradigm empirical (e.g., perceptual) judgments are liable.
Finkelstein, David H. (2003). Expression and the Inner. Harvard University Press.   (Cited by 6 | Google)
Gardner, Sebastian (2004). Critical notice of Richard Moran, Authority and Estrangement: An Essay on Self-Knowledge. Philosophical Review 113 (2):249-267.   (Google | More links)
Gertler, Brie (2008). Do we look outward to determine what we believe? In Anthony E. Hatzimoysis (ed.), Self-Knowledge. Oxford University Press.   (Google)
Abstract: 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
Hofmann, Frank (2005). Immediate self-knowledge and avowal. Grazer Philosophische Studien 70 (1):193-213.   (Google | More links)
Jacobsen, Rockney (1996). Wittgenstein on self-knowledge and self-expression. Philosophical Quarterly 46 (182):12-30.   (Cited by 5 | Google | More links)
Lear, Jonathan (2004). Avowal and unfreedom. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 69 (2):448-454.   (Cited by 2 | Google | More links)
Moran, Richard A. (2001). Authority and Estrangement: An Essay on Self-Knowledge. Princeton University Press.   (Cited by 66 | Google)
Abstract: 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...
Moran, Richard (2004). Précis of authority and estrangement: An essay on self-knowledge. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 69 (2):423–426.   (Google | More links)
Moran, Richard A. (2003). Responses to O'Brien and Shoemaker. European Journal of Philosophy 11 (3):402-19.   (Cited by 5 | Google | More links)
Moran, Richard A. (1997). Self-knowledge: Discovery, resolution, and undoing. European Journal of Philosophy 5 (2):141-61.   (Cited by 15 | Google | More links)
O'Brien, Lucy F. (2003). Moran on agency and self-knowledge. European Journal of Philosophy 11 (3):391-401.   (Cited by 4 | Google | More links)
O'Brien, Lucy F. (2005). Self-knowledge, agency, and force. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 71 (3):580–601.   (Cited by 1 | Google | More links)
Abstract: My aim in this paper is to articulate further what may be called an agency theory of self-knowledge. Many theorists have stressed how important agency is to self- knowledge, and much work has been done drawing connections between the two notions.2 However, it has not always been clear what _epistemic_ advantage agency gives us in this area and why it does so. I take it as a constraint on an adequate account of how a subject knows her own mental states and acts, that it construe the known mental states and acts realistically and as independent of their self-ascription, and that it deliver genuine epistemic standing to the knower. The main task of the paper will, then, be to explore how our having rational agency with respect to our mental states may be able to secure genuine epistemic warrant for our self-ascriptions of states or acts independent of the ascriptions. This task will be carried out by focussing on the question of what account we should give of our knowledge of what I call our acts of judging. In the remainder of this section, I will do a little to clarify what is meant by that question. Section 2 will attempt to introduce us to elements of the best way to approach the question by considering some alternative strategies. Section 3 is devoted to forming some idea of what _kind_ of warrant we are looking for when considering how agency might give us self-knowledge. Section 4 aims to present a suggestion as to how agency gives us the kind of warrant identified over our acts of judging. Section 5 deals with some objections
Owens, David (ms). Deliberation and the first person.   (Google | More links)
Abstract: Philosophers like Shoemaker and Burge argue that only self-conscious creatures can exercise rational control over their mental lives. In particular they urge that reflective rationality requires possession of the I-concept, the first person concept. These philosophers maintain that rational creatures like ourselves can exercise reflective control over belief as well as action. I agree that we have this sort of control over our actions and that practical freedom presupposes self-consciousness. But I deny that anything like this is true of belief
Owens, David J. (2003). Knowing your own mind. Dialogue 42 (4):791-798.   (Cited by 1 | Google | More links)
Abstract: What is it to “know your own mind”? In ordinary English, this phrase connotes clear headed decisiveness and a firm resolve but in the language of contemporary philosophy, the indecisive and the susceptible can know their own minds just as well as anybody else. In the philosopher’s usage, “knowing your own mind” is just a matter of being able to produce a knowledgeable description of your mental state, whether it be a state of indecision, susceptibility or even confusion. What exercises philosophers is the fact that people seem to produce these descriptions of their own mental lives without any pretence of considering evidence or reasons of any kind and yet these descriptions are treated by the rest of us as authoritative, at least in a wide range of cases. How can this be?
von Savigny, Eike (2006). Taking avowals seriously: The soul a public affair. In Alois Pichler & Simo Säätelä (eds.), Wittgenstein: The Philosopher and His Works. Ontos.   (Google)
Schlosser, Markus E. (2008). Review of "Self-knowledge and resentment", by Akeel Bilgrami. Philosophical Quarterly 58 (230):185–187.   (Google | More links)
Setiya, Kieran (forthcoming). Knowledge of intention. In Anton Ford, Jennifer Hornsby & Frederick Stoutland (eds.), Anscombe's 'Intention'. Harvard University Press.   (Google)
Abstract: Argues that it is not by inference from intention that I know what I am doing intentionally. Instead, the reverse is true: groundless knowledge of intention rests on the will as a capacity for non-perceptual, non-inferential knowledge of action. The argument adapts and clarifies considerations of "transparency" more familiar in connection with belief.
Shoemaker, Sydney (2003). Moran on self-knowledge. European Journal of Philosophy 3 (3):391-401.   (Cited by 3 | Google | More links)
Tanesini, Alessandra (2008). Self-knowledge and resentment. Philosophical Books 49 (3):238-245.   (Google)
Thomas, Alan (online). Moran on self-knowledge and practical agency.   (Google)
Abstract: Richard Moran’s Authority and Estrangement develops a compelling explanation of the characteristic features of self-knowledge that involve the use of ‘I’ as subject. Such knowledge is immediate in the sense of non-inferential, is not evidentially grounded and is epistemically authoritative.1 A&E develops its distinctive explanation while also offering accounts of other features of self-knowledge that are often overlooked, such as the centrality of self-knowledge characterised in this way to the concept of the person and its ethical importance. Moran recognises that were an agent to lack the capacity authoritatively to avow his or her own state of mind this would be an ethically damaging defect. Moran’s treatment of these issues is subtle and in places profoundly insightful. I will argue, however, that there is a loose fit between two separate explanations that he gives of self-knowledge. On the one hand Moran argues that the best explanation of self-
Tomberlin, James E. (1968). The expression theory of avowals. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 29 (September):91-96.   (Google | More links)
Walsh, W. H. (1982). Self-knowledge. In Ralph Charles Sutherland Walker (ed.), Kant on Pure Reason. Oxford University Press.   (Google)
Way, Jonathan (2007). Self-knowledge and the limits of transparency. Analysis 67 (295):223–230.   (Google | More links)
Zimmerman, Aaron Z. (2008). Self-knowledge: Rationalism vs. empiricism. Philosophy Compass 3 (2):325–352.   (Google | More links)
Abstract: 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.