Dretske’s Naturalistic Representationalism and Privileged Accessibility Thesis

Philosophia 51:933-955 (2023)
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The objective of the current paper is to provide a critical analysis of Dretske's defense of the naturalistic version of the privileged accessibility thesis. Dretske construed that the justificatory condition of privileged accessibility neither relies on the appeal to perspectival ontology of phenomenal subjectivity nor on the functionalistic notion of accessibility. He has reformulated introspection (which justifies the non-inferentiality of the knowledge of one's own mental facts in an internalist view) as a displaced perception for the defense of naturalistic privileged accessibility. Both internalist and externalist have been approved the plausibility of first-person authority argument through privileged accessibility; however, their disagreement lies on the justificatory condition of privileged accessibility. Internalist hold the view that the justificatory warrant for privileged accessibility is grounded on phenomenal subjectivity. In contrast to the internalist view, externalists uphold the view that the justificatory condition for privileged accessibility lies outside the domain of phenomenal subjectivity. As a proponent of naturalistic content externalism, Dretske defends the view that subject's privileged accessibility is not due to having access to the particular representational state (hence, they have the privilege of getting sensory representational information) and the awareness of mental fact rather the awareness of the whole representational mechanism. Having the knowledge of a particular representational state through privileged access is not the sufficient condition for the accuracy of knowledge about one’s own mental facts. The justificatory warrant lies external to the subject. Even though Dretske’s naturalistic representation is not plausible enough while dealing with the reduction of phenomenal qualities of experience, however, provides a new roadmap to compatibilists for the defense of privileged accessibility and has a major impact on transparency theorists.

Author's Profile

Manas Kumar Sahu
Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay


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