Immunity, thought insertion, and the first-person concept

Philosophical Studies 177 (12):3833-3860 (2020)
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In this paper I aim to illuminate the significance of thought insertion for debates about the first-person concept. My starting point is the often-voiced contention that thought insertion might challenge the thesis that introspection-based self-ascriptions of psychological properties are immune to error through misidentification relative to the first-person concept. In the first part of the paper I explain what a thought insertion-based counterexample to this immunity thesis should be like. I then argue that various thought insertion-involving scenarios do not give rise to successful counterexamples to the immunity of the target class of self-ascriptions. In the second part of the paper I turn to defend a Metasemantic Explanation of why the immunity thesis holds. The Metasemantic Explanation rests on a reference-fixing story about the mental ā€˜Iā€™ whose key contention is that introspective impressions play an essential role in fixing its reference. It is part of my argument in favour of the proposed reference-fixing story, as well as of the Metasemantic Explanation, that they respect the paradigmatic features of self-ascriptions of inserted thoughts.

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Michele Palmira
Complutense University of Madrid


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