Many philosophers accept an ‘Authority Thesis’ according to which self-ascriptions of one’s current mental states ordinarily are or ought to be met with a distinctive presumption of truth. Recently, however, Wolfgang Barz (2018) has argued that there is no adequately specified Authority Thesis. This, he argues, is because available specifications are either (1) philosophically puzzling but implausible, or (2) plausible but philosophically unpuzzling. I argue that there are several plausible and philosophically puzzling specifications of the Authority Thesis.
Alex Byrne (2005; 2011a; 2011b; 2018) has argued that we can gain self-knowledge of our current mental states through the use of a transparency method. A transparency method provides an extrospective rather than introspective route to self-knowledge. For example, one comes to know whether one believes P not by thinking about oneself but by considering the world-directed question of whether P is true. According to Byrne, this psychological process consists in drawing inferences from world-directed propositions to mind-directed conclusions. In this (...) article, I consider whether this ‘Inferential Transparency Method’ can provide us with the self-knowledge that some philosophers have thought we require in order to “critically reason” (Burge 1996), and I conclude that it cannot provide such self-knowledge. The force of this objection depends on how much stock we should place in our status as critical reasoners. However, I conclude by suggesting a more general worry for Byrne’s account. (shrink)
Self-ascriptions of one's current mental states often seem authoritative. It is sometimes thought that the authority of such self-ascriptions is, in part, a matter of their indubitability. However, they do not seem to be universally indubitable. How, then, should claims about self-ascriptive indubitability be qualified? Here I consider several such qualifications from the literature. Finding many of them wanting, I nevertheless settle on multiple specifications of the thesis that self-ascriptions are authoritatively indubitable. Some of these specifications concern how other agents (...) ought to treat one's self-ascriptions, while a final specification concerns how one is entitled to respond to others’ doubts about one's self-ascriptions. The result is a pluralistic view of self-ascriptive indubitability: different types of mental state self-ascriptions are indubitable in different ways, and for different people. (shrink)
At least some of your beliefs are commitments. When you believe that P as a commitment, your stance on P is such that you believe it on the basis of your considered judgement. Sometimes, you also believe that you believe P. Such self-beliefs can also be commissive in a sense, as when they are reflective endorsements of your lower-order commissive beliefs. In this paper I argue that one's commissive self-beliefs ontologically constitute one's lower-order commissive beliefs because one's commissive self-beliefs instantiate (...) the same inferential dispositions that are constitutive of one's lower-order commissive beliefs. Constitutive relations between commissive self-beliefs and first-order commissive beliefs are maximally epistemically secure because they do not result from any epistemic procedure by which one must try (and possibly fail) to detect one's first-order commissive beliefs. This maximal epistemic security suffices to warrant one's commissive self-beliefs, such that one possesses commissive self-knowledge of an especially privileged sort. (shrink)
Posts on social media platforms like Twitter are sometimes the products of deceptively designed bots. These bots can cause obvious epistemic problems, such as tricking human users into believing the contents of misleading posts. However, less-considered epistemic problems involve false bot judgements where a human user mistakes another human user’s post for a bot-post, or where a human user mistakenly believes that bots are the primary vehicles for tokening certain content on social media. This paper takes up three questions concerning (...) false bot judgements: what exactly are their associated epistemic harms, just how harmful are they, and what should we do about them? (shrink)
Terence Cuneo has recently argued that we have to be committed to the existence of epistemic facts insofar as they are indispensable to theorizing. Furthermore, he argues that the epistemic properties of these facts are inextricably ‘ontologically entangled’ with certain moral properties, such that there exist ‘moral-epistemic’ facts. Cuneo, therefore, concludes that moral realism is true. I argue that Cuneo’s appeal to the existence of moral-epistemic facts is problematic, even granting his argument for the existence of indispensable epistemic facts. I (...) conclude, therefore, that Cuneo’s argument fails to justify moral realism. (shrink)
Neo-expressivism is the view that avowals—first-personal, present tense self-ascriptions of mental states—ordinarily express the very mental states that they semantically represent, such that they carry a strong presumption of truth and are immune to requests for epistemic support. Peter Langland-Hassan (2015. “Self-Knowledge and Imagination.” Philosophical Explorations 18 (2): 226–245) has argued that Neo-expressivism cannot accommodate avowals of one’s imaginings. In this short paper I argue that Neo-expressivism can, in fact, accommodate them.
A growing cohort of philosophers argue that inference, understood as an agent-level psychological process or event, is subject to a “Taking Condition.” The Taking Condition states, roughly, that drawing an inference requires one to take one’s premise(s) to epistemically support one’s conclusion, where “takings” are some sort of higher-order attitude, thought, intuition, or act. My question is not about the nature of takings, but about their contents. I examine the prospects for “minimal” and “robust” views of the contents of takings. (...) On the minimal view, taking one’s premise(s) to support one’s conclusion only requires focusing on propositional contents and putative epistemic support relations between them. On the robust view, taking one’s premise(s) to support one’s conclusion also requires knowledge (or being in a position to have knowledge) of the attitudes one holds toward those contents. I argue that arguments for the Taking Condition do not entail or sufficiently motivate the robust view. Accordingly, contra several philosophers, the Taking Condition does not illuminate a deep relationship between inference and self-knowledge. (shrink)
Donald Davidson famously offered an explanation of “first-person authority”. However, he described first-person authority differently across different works—sometimes referring to the presumptive truth of agents’ self-ascriptions of their current mental states, and sometimes referring to the direct self-knowledge that agents often have of said states. First, I show that a standard Davidsonian explanation of first-person authority can at best, and with some modification, explain the presumptive truth of agents’ self-ascriptions. I then develop two Davidsonian accounts of direct self-knowledge—one accounting for (...) its function and another accounting for its source—pushing back in the process against deflationary and quietist rejoinders to these projects. Finally, I relate my Davidsonian accounts of direct self-knowledge back to the modified Davidsonian account of the presumptive truth of agents’ self-ascriptions. (shrink)