Experience, Justification, and First Person Judgments

Dissertation, University of California, Los Angeles (1988)
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Abstract

It has been widely observed that certain sorts of experiential judgments about oneself do not require for their justification the recognition of oneself by distinguishing properties that are presented in the experience. Yet what justifies many judgments about oneself, rather than someone else, is evidently some qualitative difference in an accompanying experience. For example, in a given set of circumstances, an experience of one qualitative sort will justify a judgment that I am sitting, but not a judgment that Sam is sitting. If the qualitative difference between that experience and one that would justify a judgment about Sam is not that it presents a different set of distinguishing properties, then what is it? ;I argue that the qualitative feature to which one responds in making these first person judgments is the sensory mode of the experience. ;The first two chapters are devoted to explaining the relevant notions of judgment, experience and justification, and to defending the legitimacy of the question against objections. In the third chapter I introduce my modes of experience account of the qualitative difference that justifies the first person judgments and contrast that account with other theories. The fourth chapter argues that my account is simpler than the most natural alternative, which is that, contrary to appearances, we do identify ourselves in experience by our distinguishing properties, and I argue that my account better fits our intuitive sense of our ability to justifiably self-attribute experiences. In the fifth chapter it is shown that my account allows an attractive explanation of the phenomenon of immunity to error through misidentification. In the sixth chapter I argue that my account does not imply that the first person pronoun, 'I', fails to refer

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Steven L. Reynolds
Arizona State University

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