Reasoning and Self-Knowledge

Análisis Filosófico 38 (1):33-55 (2018)
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What is the relation between reasoning and self-knowledge? According to Shoemaker (1988), a certain kind of reasoning requires self-knowledge: we cannot rationally revise our beliefs without knowing that we have them, in part because we cannot see that there is a problem with an inconsistent set of propositions unless we are aware of believing them. In this paper, I argue that this view is mistaken. A second account, versions of which can be found in Shoemaker (1988 and 2009) and Byrne (2005), claims that we can reason our way from belief about the world to self-knowledge about such belief. While Shoemaker’s “zany argument” fails to show how such reasoning can issue in self-knowledge, Byrne’s account, which centres on the epistemic rule “If p, believe that you believe that p”, is more successful. Two interesting objections are that the epistemic rule embodies a mad inference (Boyle 2011) and that it makes us form first-order beliefs, rather than revealing them (Gertler 2011). I sketch responses to both objections.
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Archival date: 2018-06-27
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