Semantic Externalism and Self‐Knowledge

Jessica Brown

in The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Mind

Published in print January 2009 | ISBN: 9780199262618
Published online September 2009 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Philosophy

 Semantic Externalism and Self‐Knowledge

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The distinctive claim made by semantic externalism is that a subject's thought contents are partly individuated by her environment, and do not supervene on her ‘inner states’, such as her brain states. One of the main objections to this position is the claim that it is incompatible with self-knowledge. A subject's knowledge of her own thoughts seems quite different from her knowledge of what others think. A subject uses behavioural evidence to know what others think. However, typically, a subject can know what she herself thinks without inferring this from her own behaviour, and even prior to manifesting any behaviour which could constitute grounds for such an inference.

Keywords: self-knowledge; semantic externalism; inner states; brain states; behavioural evidence; second-order thoughts

Article.  6843 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; Philosophy of Language ; Philosophy of Mind

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