Expressing first-person authority

Philosophical Studies 172 (8):2215-2237 (2015)
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Abstract

Ordinarily when someone tells us something about her beliefs, desires or intentions, we presume she is right. According to standard views, this deferential trust is justified on the basis of certain epistemic properties of her assertion. In this paper, I offer a non-epistemic account of deference. I first motivate the account by noting two asymmetries between the kind of deference we show psychological self-ascriptions and the kind we grant to epistemic experts more generally. I then propose a novel agency-based account of deference. Drawing on recent work on self-knowledge, I argue that a person normally has a distinctive type of cognitive agency; specifically she is able to constitute her psychological attitudes by making judgments about what they ought to be. I then argue that a speaker expresses this agentive authority when she self-ascribes a psychological attitude and this is what justifies deferentially trusting what she says. Because the notion of expression plays a central role in this account, I contrast it with recent neo-expressivist theories

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Matthew Parrott
King's College London

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