Self-knowledge failures and first person authority

Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 64 (2):365-380 (2002)
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Abstract

Davidson and Burge have claimed that the conditions under which self-knowledge is possessed are such that externalism poses no obstacle to their being met by ordinary speakers and thinkers. On their accounts. no such person could fail to possess self-knowledge. But we do from time to time attribute to each other such failures; so we should prefer to their accounts an account that preserves first person authority while allowing us to make sense of what appear to be true attributions of such failures.While the core idea behind Davidson’s and Burge’s accounts appears inadequate to this task, I argue that it can be deployed in such a way as to deliver the desired result. What makes this possible is that two attitude-types can differ as follows: the self-knowledge required for an utterance to be a Φing that p is different from the self-knowledge required for it to be a Ψing that p

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Mark McCullagh
University of Guelph

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