Embedded mental action in self-attribution of belief

Philosophical Studies 174 (2):353-377 (2017)
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Abstract

You can come to know that you believe that p partly by reflecting on whether p and then judging that p. Call this procedure “the transparency method for belief.” How exactly does the transparency method generate known self-attributions of belief? To answer that question, we cannot interpret the transparency method as involving a transition between the contents p and I believe that p. It is hard to see how some such transition could be warranted. Instead, in this context, one mental action is both a judgment that p and a self-attribution of a belief that p. The notion of embedded mental action is introduced here to explain how this can be so and to provide a full epistemic explanation of the transparency method. That explanation makes sense of first-person authority and immediacy in transparent self-knowledge. In generalized form, it gives sufficient conditions on an attitude’s being known transparently.

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Antonia Peacocke
Stanford University

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