Externalism and Skepticism: Recognition, Expression, and Self-Knowledge

Dorit Bar-On

in The Self and Self-Knowledge

Published in print April 2012 | ISBN: 9780199590650
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191741043 | DOI:
Externalism and Skepticism: Recognition, Expression, and Self-Knowledge

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In analogy with external-world skepticism, content skepticism claims that I do not know the content of my present thoughts, given various possible alternatives supplied by content externalism. Yet, as common sense would have it, my belief that, say, I am presently thinking that there’s water in the glass, is much more secure than my belief that there’s a glass in front of me. This paper argues that the analogy relies on a recognitional conception of our ordinary knowledge of content. There are good reasons to reject this conception. The paper’s second aim is to sketch a neo-expressivist alternative, according to which ordinary self-ascriptions of contentful states are protected from skeptical doubt because they enjoy ascriptive immunity to error. What allows such self-ascriptions to represent secure knowledge of content is the fact that they involve the exercise of an expressive ability.

Keywords: skepticism; externalism; self-knowledge; knowledge of content; expression; immunity to error

Chapter.  12699 words. 

Subjects: Metaphysics

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