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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
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
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
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
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
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
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?
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.