Rationality and Acquaintance in Theories of Introspection

In Davide Bordini, Arnaud Dewalque & Anna Giustina (eds.), Consciousness and Inner Awareness. Cambridge University Press (forthcoming)
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Abstract: According to a rationalist theory of introspection, rational agents have a capacity to believe they are in conscious states when they are in them, much as they have the capacity, for example, to avoid obvious contradictions in their beliefs. For the agent to know or believe by introspection, on this view, is for them to exercise that capacity. According to an acquaintance theory of introspection, by contrast, whenever an agent is in a conscious state, the agent is aware of or is acquainted with being in the state, where the background notion of acquaintance is understood to be distinct from sense perception, on the one hand, and belief or knowledge, or the other. For the agent to know or believe by introspection, on this view, is for them to take advantage of the epistemic position they occupy in virtue of being acquainted in this way. These theories are not in conflict; it is possible to hold both an acquaintance theory and a rationalist theory. This paper, however, sets out and recommends a different possibility, namely, that of holding a rationalist theory while rejecting any acquaintance theory.

Author's Profile

Daniel Stoljar
Australian National University


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