Awareness and Authority: Skeptical Doubts about Self-Knowledge

Fred Dretske

in Introspection and Consciousness

Published in print July 2012 | ISBN: 9780199744794
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199933396 | DOI:

Series: Philosophy of Mind Series

Awareness and Authority: Skeptical Doubts about Self-Knowledge

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Our mode of awareness of our own thoughts is awareness of their contents: what it is we think. This mode of awareness makes one authoritative about what one thinks. Even children (who do not yet know they think) are authorities (this is called ‘unwitting’ authority) on what they think. This authority does not extend, however, to the fact that one thinks. Awareness (this is called ‘acquaintance’) with what one thinks is awareness of a proposition, and a proposition (even the proposition that you think), unlike a fact, is not a reason to believe anything (it is certainly not a reason to believe you think). The conclusion is reached that our mode of awareness of our own thoughts-an awareness that makes us authoritative about what we think-provides us with no reason for thinking we think. If we have a reason to believe we think, the reasons are the same facts (e.g., I passed the entrance exam) to which others have equal access.

Keywords: first person authority; unwitting authority; acquaintance; proposition; inner sense; content of thought; self-knowledge

Chapter.  7558 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Mind

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