Authority without privilege: How to be a Dretskean conciliatory skeptic on self-knowledge

Synthese 198 (2):1071-1087 (2021)
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Dretske is a “conciliatory skeptic” on self-knowledge. Take some subject S such that S thinks that P and S knows that she has thoughts. Dretske’s theory can be put as follows: S has a privileged way of knowing what she thinks, but she has no privileged way of knowing that she thinks it. There is much to be said on behalf of conciliatory skepticism and Dretske’s defense of it. We aim to show, however, that Dretske’s defense fails, in that if his defense of CS’s skeptical half succeeds, then his defense of CS’s conciliatory half fails. We then suggest a potential way forward. We suggest in particular that the correct way of being a Dretskean conciliatory skeptic is to deny that S has a privileged way of knowing about her thoughts, but to grant that she is nonetheless an authority on her thoughts.

Author Profiles

Michael Roche
Idaho State University
William Roche
Texas Christian University


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