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Brown, Jessica, , . Anti-individualism and knowledge
2004, MIT Press.
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Added by: Giada Fratantonio, Nick Novelli, Contributed by:

Publisher’s note: Contemporary philosophy of mind is dominated by anti-individualism, which holds that a subject’s thoughts are determined not only by what is inside her head but also by aspects of her environment. Despite its dominance, anti-individualism is subject to a daunting array of epistemological objections: that it is incompatible with the privileged access each subject has to her thoughts, that it undermines rationality, and, absurdly, that it provides a new route to a priori knowledge of the world. In this rigorous and persuasive study, Jessica Brown defends anti-individualism from these epistemological objections. The discussion has important consequences for key epistemological issues such as skepticism, closure, transmission, and the nature of knowledge and warrant.

According to Brown’s analysis, one main reason for thinking that anti-individualism is incompatible with privileged access is that it undermines a subject’s introspective ability to distinguish types of thoughts. So diagnosed, the standard focus on a subject’s reliability about her thoughts provides no adequate reply. Brown defuses the objection by appeal to the epistemological notion of a relevant alternative. Further, she argues that, given a proper understanding of rationality, anti-individualism is compatible with the notion that we are rational subjects. However, the discussion of rationality provides a new argument that anti-individualism is in tension with Fregean sense. Finally, Brown shows that anti-individualism does not create a new route to a priori knowledge of the world. While rejecting solutions that restrict the transmission of warrant, she argues that anti-individualists should deny that we have the type of knowledge that would be required to use a priori knowledge of thought content to gain a priori knowledge of the world.

Comment: A very interesting defense of anti-individualism. Contains interesting discussion on the topics of semantic externalism and introspection. Sections of it could be taught in any epistemology course covering these topics.

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Farkas, Katalin, , . What is externalism?
2003, Philosophical Studies 112 (3):187-208.
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Added by: Clotilde Torregrossa, Contributed by: Nora Heinzelmann

Abstract: The content of the externalist thesis about the mind depends crucially on how we define the distinction between the internal and the external. According to the usual understanding, the boundary between the internal and the external is the skull or the skin of the subject. In this paper I argue that the usual understanding is inadequate, and that only the new understanding of the external/internal distinction I suggest helps us to understand the issue of the compatibility of externalism and privileged access

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Gow, Laura, , . The Limitations of Perceptual Transparency
2016, Philosophical Quarterly 66: 723-744
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Added by: Björn Freter, Contributed by:

Abstract: My first aim in this paper is to show that the transparency claim cannot serve the purpose to which it is assigned; that is, the idea that perceptual experience is transparent is no help whatsoever in motivating an externalist account of phenomenal character. My second aim is to show that the internalist qualia theorist’s response to the transparency idea has been unnecessarily concessive to the externalist. Surprisingly, internalists seem to allow that much of the phenomenal character of perceptual experience depends essentially (and not just causally) upon externally located properties. They argue that we can also be aware of internal, non-intentional qualia. I present an alternative response the internalist can make to the transparency claim: phenomenal character is wholly internal, and seeming to be aware of externally located properties just is being aware of internally constituted experiential features.

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Hurley, Susan, , . Varieties of Externalism
2010, in The Extended Mind, ed. Richard Menary, MIT Press. 101-153.
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Added by: Nick Novelli, Contributed by:

Abstract: Externalism comes in varieties. While the landscape isn’t tidy, I offer an organizing framework within which many of the forms it has taken (though perhaps not all) can be located. This taxonomy should be useful in itself. I’ll also use it to survey and compare arguments for different kinds of externalism, while probing related intuitions.

Comment: This paper offers a comprehensive taxonomy of types of externalism about mental states. It assumes some background knowledge of philosophy of mind and language, including a lot of the vocabulary of debates about content, but remains one of the easiest introductions to the positions in the debate between internalism and extended mind theory.

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Macdonald, Cynthia, , . Externalism and first-person authority
1995, Synthese 104 (1):99-122.
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Added by: Giada Fratantonio, Contributed by:

Abstract: In this paper, the author explores the relation between content externalism, i.e., the idea that the content of our thought is determines by factors of the environment, and first-person authority, i.e., the idea that subjects are authoritive with respect to the content of their own intentional states. The author develps an account of first-person authoritive that results being compatible with externalism.

Comment: It is good as a further reading on the topic of content/semantic externalism.

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Millikan, Ruth Garrett, , . A common structure for concepts of individuals, stuffs, and real kinds: More Mama, more milk, and more mouse
1997, Behavioral and Brain Sciences 21 (1):55-65.
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Added by: Clotilde Torregrossa, Contributed by: Juan R. Loaiza

Abstract: Concepts are highly theoretical entities. One cannot study them empirically without committing oneself to substantial preliminary assumptions. Among the competing theories of concepts and categorization developed by psychologists in the last thirty years, the implicit theoretical assumption that what falls under a concept is determined by description () has never been seriously challenged. I present a nondescriptionist theory of our most basic concepts, which include (1) stuffs (gold, milk), (2) real kinds (cat, chair), and (3) individuals (Mama, Bill Clinton, the Empire State Building). On the basis of something important that all three have in common, our earliest and most basic concepts of substances are identical in structure. The membership of the category like that of is a natural unit in nature, to which the concept does something like pointing, and continues to point despite large changes in the properties the thinker represents the unit as having. For example, large changes can occur in the way a child identifies cats and the things it is willing to call without affecting the extension of its word The difficulty is to cash in the metaphor of in this context. Having substance concepts need not depend on knowing words, but language interacts with substance concepts, completely transforming the conceptual repertoire. I will discuss how public language plays a crucial role in both the acquisition of substance concepts and their completed structure

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Sawyer, Sarah, , . Privileged Access to the World
1998, Australasian Journal of Philosophy 76 (4): 523-533.
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Added by: Giada Fratantonio, Lukas Schwengerer, Contributed by:

Summary: Addresses the so-called McKinsey problem, which aims to show that semantic externalism and armchair access to the contents of one’s own thoughts are incompatible: the conjunction of the two theses leads to the disastrous conclusion that it is possible to have armchair knowledge of the external world. Sawyer defends externalism by biting the bullet, thereby arguing that we do in fact have armchair knowledge of the external world.

Comment: This paper can be used as a further reading on semantic externalism or self-knowledge. It is well suited for advanced undergraduate or graduate students. Sawyer provides a clear and concise formulation of the McKinsey problem and explores a possible response for externalists by embracing the consequences of accepting both semantic externalism and privileged access.

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Srinivasan, Amia, , . Normativity without Cartesian Priviledge
2015, Philosophical Issues: 25 (1): 273-299.
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Added by: Jie Gao, Contributed by:

Summary: This paper aims to explore the implication of rejecting Cartesianism for our relationship to the normative realm. It is argued that it implies that this relationship is more fraught than many would like to think. Without privileged access to our own minds, there are no norms that can invariably guide our actions, and no norms that are immune from blameless violation. This will come as bad news to those normative theorists who think that certain central normative notions – e.g. the ethical ought or epistemic justification – should be cashed out in terms of subjects’ mental states precisely in order to generate norms that are action-guiding and immune from blameless vi- olation. Meanwhile Anti-Cartesianism might come as good news to those normative theorists who resist cashing out norms in terms of mental states. For Anti-Cartesnianism implies that no norms – however closely tied to the mental – can be perfectly action-guiding or totally immune from blameless violation. More generally, once we have accepted that our relationship to our own minds lacks the perfect intimacy promised by Cartesianism, we are, for better or worse, left with the view that the normative realm is suffused with ignorance and bad luck.

Comment: This is a good paper for teachings on epistemic normativity, more specifically on normative externalism. Having pre-knowledge on epistemic internalism and extermalism would be helpful in understanding this paper, but not necessarily required.

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