Dissertation, Universitat de Barcelona (2015)

Giovanni Merlo
University of Geneva
The first part of this thesis articulates and defends the Subjectivist View of the Mental. According to this view, my mental states are essentially different from the mental states of everyone else, but the fact that they are is a subjective fact, rather than an objective one. Chapter 1 explains what it takes for a fact to be subjective, what kind of difference holds between my mental states and everyone else's mental states and what kind of intuitions lead me to believe that there is such a difference. Chapter 2 defends the Subjectivist View of the Mental from objections and discusses some of its most significant implications. In the second part of the thesis, I explore the advantages that the Subjectivist View of the Mental offers when it comes to accounting for three basic features of our knowledge of the mental. Chapter 3 deals with the asymmetry between self-knowledge and knowledge of other minds. It is argued that, if the Subjectivist View of the Mental is true, we can explain why this asymmetry holds without assuming that self-knowledge and knowledge of other minds are involved with substantially different ways of knowing. Chapter 4 focuses on the immunity to error through misidentification of mental self-ascriptions. I show that, while there has been a temptation to explain this phenomenon by following Lichtenberg and Wittgenstein in taking the content of mental self-ascriptions to be general rather than particular, this proposal cannot be made to work unless something like the Subjectivist View of the Mental is true. Chapter 5 is concerned with experiential knowledge. I argue that, if experiential truths are taken to be objective truths, it is not easy to see why experiential knowledge should have the peculiar 'first-hand' character it has. The problem disappears if experiential truths are regarded as subjective rather than objective.
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