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Introduction

It may be impossible for me to exist in a world that satisfies a' - c' , but the idea is not incoherent, and this marks a distinction in kind between our thinking about subjects and objects. In chapter 6, Connor McHugh employs the notion of an implicit "sensitivity to reasons" to defend Peacocke's account of self-knowledge from an objection McHugh attributes to Annalisa Coliva According to Peacocke, a subject's conscious judgment that p has phenomenological properties in virtue of which it is directly accessible to that subject.

A judgment raised to consciousness in this way provides a subject with a "good reason" to believe that she believes that p because a judgment that p "initiates or manifests" the belief that p and so is "constitutively" connected to the truth of the introspective belief grounded in it. Coliva wonders whether this account of self-knowledge is too externalist. Even if the fact that you have judged that p is directly accessible to you and provides you with a reliable basis on which to believe that you believe that p, mightn't the judgment fail to justify the relevant introspective belief or render it rational?

According to McHugh, something like this can happen when a subject has the phenomenological characteristic of judging that p when she really only hopes that p. A rational agent will avoid falsely concluding that she believes that p in such a case because she knows that "she wants p to be true so much that she is liable to engage in wishful thinking" or she is "aware that the evidence in favour of the truth of p is far weaker than she would usually take to be conclusive" or "she is aware that she is not committed to the truth of p" , cf. But is this true? Surely a believer can know that she hopes Jesus really was resurrected, and know that her evidence for the resurrection is "far weaker than she would usually take to be conclusive" on matters of this kind, without this rendering her judgment that she believes in the resurrection unjustified or unwarranted.

Whether she is justified in believing in the resurrection is of course a separate matter. But an atheist can accuse a believer of epistemic irrationality without therein accusing her of insincerity. In chapter 5, Jane Heal further examines Peacocke's claim that a subject's conscious judgments, experiences and emotions "directly" justify her introspective belief in their existence.


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A person can be fearful or jealous of someone, reflect to the best of her ability, and yet fail to recognize her emotion as fear or jealously. She may interpret her experience as discomfort with the target of her fear rather than fear of him, or insist that she is experiencing warranted disapproval of her rival's character rather than jealousy of his accomplishments Indeed, Heal rightly points out that interpretation or conceptualization also plays a role in the formation of our more basic introspective judgments.

Consider a case of Gareth Evans' in which a subject sees ten lights before him but miscounts and judges there to be eleven lights there instead. Such a subject will think it looks to him as though there are eleven lights before him when it really looks to him as though there are ten lights there.

As Heal points out, even if knowledge of our minds is non-inferential and non-observational, epistemic or cognitive skill might still play an essential role in its acquisition.

The power of self-knowledge and awareness

In chapter 7, Lucy O'Brien takes aim at Peacocke's account of our immediate awareness of our own actions. On Peacocke's account, we have a "basic" way of being aware of what we are doing that is distinct from our conceptual knowledge of our actions. The awareness in question is non-perceptual; it is independent of any sensory perception of the action of which it is an awareness; and it can occur as a merely "apparent" awareness, as when it seems to you that you are raising your hand, when you are not Peacocke adopts a model of this phenomenon on which trying to do something direct causes the apparent awareness of the action one is trying to perform.

But O'Brien argues that this account comes to grief with regard to basic actions that are not initiated by "tryings. Peacocke responds to Heal and O'Brien in chapter 8. His reply to O'Brien is two-pronged. First he denies that one can act without trying. A severely depressed person can try to talk to herself but find herself with nothing to say.

But even if there are basic actions that do not themselves incorporate tryings, Peacocke insists that his account can be easily modified to correctly model our immediate awareness of them. Insofar as we are directly aware of actions we perform without trying, these actions will have some "initiating event" that plays the role Peacocke's current model assigns to tryings. In reply to Heal, Peacocke somewhat flat-footedly denies the phenomenon to which she points.

He notes that fearing someone is not the same thing as being anxious in that person's presence. To fear someone, Peacocke argues, one must represent that person as dangerous and in this way or some other experience one's anxiety as fear The point is well taken, and Heal is perhaps guilty of under-describing the case on offer. But it's hard to see how the existence of the cases to which she points can be reasonably denied.

Puzzles remain. According to the standard functionalist metaphysics, to believe that p, an agent's actions and inferences must be suitably guided or influenced by p. But how can I know in a direct manner whether I would act or reason on the information that p were it relevant to the task at hand? And if I cannot have immediate knowledge of my cognitive and behavioral dispositions, how can I have immediate knowledge of beliefs constituted by these dispositions?

The four essays that comprise the volume's final section address questions in this vein. In chapter 12, Akeel Bilgrami begins his answer with an argument for the ambiguity of "belief.

Her views on her beliefs so understood do not carry a presumption of truth. But we also use "belief" to refer to a person's commitments. And a person's judgment or assertion that she is committed to the truth of a given proposition is justly granted authority. Coliva chapter 10 offers a similar account. We are authoritative about our commitments construed as speech acts or dispositions to such. Psychological concepts are acquired through "blind drill" with psychological terms. Children are taught to say, "I believe that p" as an alternative to saying "P" and they eventually pick up the habit.

There is no epistemic gap between asserting that p believing that p and asserting that one believes that p believing that one believes that p because both of these phenomena can be equated with the commitment to use p in inference and defend p with arguments. She describes the account as "constructivist. Bilgrami argues that the commitments in question are not just "normative" in that they are subject to criticism and evaluation -- they are "themselves normative states" But what is this supposed to mean? At first, Bilgrami says that a subject's believing that p cannot be equated with her having dispositions of any kind, but he soon retreats to the more modest claim that believing that p cannot be equated with the possession of a set of first order dispositions , n6.

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To believe that men are no smarter than women is to commit oneself to employing this information in one's reasoning, deliberation and action. On Bilgrami's account, one's commitment to this truth is not put into doubt by one's misogynistic comments, inferences, hiring practices and the like, so long as one tries to do better when these behaviors are brought to one's attention. But the disposition to take the relevant criticism to heart and alter one's reasoning and behavior in its light is still a disposition. So, while Bilgrami is right to reject crudely behavioristic accounts of belief that equate its possession with dispositions that can be specified without the use of psychological concepts, most functionalists join him in this stance.

And most functionalists do not think of themselves as rejecting naturalism, or as pursuing an approach to psychological explanation that is discontinuous with the methodologies now prevalent in psychology departments. Bilgrami must do more to show that philosophers must abandon a naturalistic approach to the mind if they are to admit the existence of commitments construed as dispositions to revise one's reasoning and behavior in response to incongruities between them and one's assertions.

In Chapter 9, Dorit Bar-On further develops an "expressivist" approach to self-knowledge that resembles the Coliva-Bilgrami line in its emphasis on speech acts and rhetorical dispositions.

But she situates the view in relation to "content externalism" and its seeming incompatibility with a distinctively introspective route to knowledge of one's own mind. According to the content externalist, the contents of our thoughts are in part determined by factors external to our minds or brains. If he is embedded in a sufficiently different environment, my duplicate might not share my beliefs. Surely, introspection can only generate awareness of states, events and acts that are "internal" to a subject's mind or brain.

So must content externalists then deny that we have introspective access to our own minds? Bar-On argues that we can see our way to reconciling externalism with first person authority by rejecting a "recognitional" conception of self-knowledge according to which the knowledge that I am thinking that e. Instead, in judging that I am thinking that water is potable, I therein think that water is potable.

The judgment is self-verifying. Of course, few of our introspective judgments are self-verifying. But Bar-On points out that "avowals" have a similar property.

1986-0504 From self knowledge to self consciousness

Though the judgment that, e. The expressed hope renders true my claim that I have it. Avowals of this kind are not, however, infallible, as circumstances can conspire to "press" an avower into error. Bar-On gives the example of someone yelping out of an as yet unrealized expectation of something painful happening to her Paul Snowdon's examination in chapter 11 of Crispin Wright's treatment of avowals offers a nice counterpoint to these reflections on the puzzle of self-knowledge.

Snowdon takes Wright to task for focusing on speech acts like self-ascription and avowal and the norms that govern them. In response to Wright, Snowdon describes a number of cases in which we are agnostic, doubtful or just plain wrong about what we are thinking and feeling.

Suppose, for example, that a doctor pushes his patient's abdomen in two different locations -- A and B -- and asks which hurts more. When the patient says A, the doctor informs him that he has the more serious of two candidate conditions and that drastic surgery is required. Would the patient insist on the incorrigibility of his introspective judgment or ask for another probe? Snowdon draws the same moral as Heal. That does not mean there are no constraints on how an object can change.

Rivers can change a lot in two days, but not by being in one continent on Monday, and on another continent, separated from the first by an ocean, on Wednesday. And something that is a river on Wednesday will not change into a building, or a human being, or number no matter how long we wait. Where do these constraints come from? Identity, I said, means that there is just one object. That seems simple enough, but can be puzzling.

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Is it a relation at all? After all, if it is true that A is identical with B , then there is just one thing that is both A and B. If we grant that identity is a relation, it seems to be quite universal and trivial: every object is identical to itself and no other. Any number is identical to itself. Any mountain is identical to itself. Any photon is identical to itself. And every person is identical to himself or herself. But deciding issues involved in identity can be a tricky process. Is there really a single trivial relation involved in all of these diverse phenomena?

Self-knowledge (psychology) - Wikipedia

Imagine a simple kitchen table. The table I am imagining has five spatial parts—four legs and a top. These parts are not identical with one another. They are related to one another in various other ways. Although the five parts are not identical, there is just one table of which they are all parts. At the level of the parts, we have real relations: being attached; being formed from the same kind of wood, etc.