Cogito and Moore

Synthese 202 (1):1-27 (2023)
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Self-verifying judgments like _I exist_ seem rational, and self-defeating ones like _It will rain, but I don’t believe it will rain_ seem irrational_._ But one’s evidence might support a self-defeating judgment, and fail to support a self-verifying one. This paper explains how it can be rational to defy one’s evidence if judgment is construed as a mental performance or act, akin to inner assertion. The explanation comes at significant cost, however. Instead of causing or constituting beliefs, judgments turn out to be mere epiphenomena, and self-verification and self-defeat lack the broader philosophical import often claimed for them.

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David James Barnett
University of Toronto, St. George Campus


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