Externalism and Authoritative Self‐Knowledge

Cynthia Macdonald

in Knowing Our Own Minds

Published in print October 2000 | ISBN: 9780199241408
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191598692 | DOI:
 Externalism and Authoritative Self‐Knowledge

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This paper defends a qualified observational model of authoritative self‐knowledge, which centres on two features of ordinarily observable characteristics that help explain a subject's direct awareness of them. The first is that they are basic, in that one does not have to know of any underlying fact in virtue of which they apply when they do; and the second is that it is generally necessary and sufficient for the application of such a characteristic that it seems to a normal observer, in normal circumstances, that it does apply. The view is defended against two well‐known misgivings about modelling such knowledge on observation: first, that there is a telling structural disanalogy, since observation normally involves three components, namely, the item perceived, an intermediary, non‐conceptual sensation state, and a judgement grounded in that sensation state, whereas self‐knowledge of an intentional state apparently involves analogues of the first and third components only, namely, a first‐order content‐bearing state and the second‐order state that it validates; and second that, whereas the relations between a perceptual state and the item perceived are causal and contingent, those between first‐ and corresponding second‐order intentional states are in general non‐contingent, and so not merely causal.

Keywords: authoritative self‐knowledge; inner perception; observational model; second‐order

Chapter.  14978 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Mind

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