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Bar-On, Dorit, James Sias. Varieties of Expressivism
2013, Philosophy Compass 8(8): 699-713.
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Added by: Lukas Schwengerer

Abstract: After offering a characterization of what unites versions of ‘expressivism’, we highlight a number of dimensions along which expressivist views should be distinguished. We then separate four theses often associated with expressivism – a positive expressivist thesis, a positive constitutivist thesis, a negative ontological thesis, and a negative semantic thesis – and describe how traditional expressivists have attempted to incorporate them. We argue that expressivism in its traditional form may be fatally flawed, but that expressivists nonetheless have the resources for preserving what is essential to their view. These resources comprise a re-configuring of expressivism, the result of which is the view we call ‘neo-expressivism’. After illustrating how the neo-expressivist model works in the case of avowals and ethical claims, we explain how it avoids the problems of traditional expressivism.

Comment: This paper provides a clear discussion of the core principles of expressivism. Moreover, it engages with classic objections (e.g. the Frege-Geach problem) and develops the neo-expressivist proposal as a response. It is an accessible starting point for neo-expressivism and as such both suitable for meta-ethics and epistemology courses discussing expressivist positions.

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Gertler, Brie. Introspecting Phenomenal States
2001, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 63(2): 305-328.
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Added by: Lukas Schwengerer

Abstract: This paper defends a novel account of how we introspect phenomenal states, the Demonstrative Attention account (DA). First, I present a set of necessary and sufficient conditions for phenomenal state introspection which are not psychological, but purely metaphysical and semantic. Next, to explain how these conditions can be satisfied, I describe how demonstrative reference to a phenomenal content can be achieved through attention alone. This sort of introspective demonstration differs from perceptual demonstration in being non-causal. DA nicely explains key intuitions about phenomenal self-knowledge, makes possible an appealing diagnosis of blindsight cases, and yields a highly plausible view as to the extent of our first-person epistemic privilege. Because these virtues stem from construing phenomenal properties as non-relational features of states, my defense of DA constitutes a challenge to relational construals of phenomenal properties, including functionalism and representationalism. And I provide reason to doubt that they can meet this challenge.

Comment: This paper is a good and clear example of an acquaintance account of introspection with regard to phenomenal states. It can be used as a specialised reading on introspection, or as a supplement to discussions of phenomenal states. Because it involves a challenge to relational construals of phenomenal properties it can also be used in advanced philosophy of mind discussing the nature of phenomenal properties.

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Gertler, Brie. Self-Knowledge
2011, New York: Routledge.
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Added by: Lukas Schwengerer

Publisher’s Note: The problem of self-knowledge is one of the most fascinating in all of philosophy and has crucial significance for the philosophy of mind and epistemology. In this outstanding introduction Brie Gertler assesses the leading theoretical approaches to self-knowledge, explaining the work of many of the key figures in the field: from Descartes and Kant, through to Bertrand Russell and Gareth Evans, as well as recent work by Tyler Burge, David Chalmers, William Lycan and Sydney Shoemaker.Beginning with an outline of the distinction between self-knowledge and self-awareness and providing essential historical background to the problem, Gertler addresses specific theories of self-knowledge such as the acquaintance theory, the inner sense theory, and the rationalist theory, as well as leading accounts of self-awareness. The book concludes with a critical explication of the dispute between empiricist and rationalist approaches.

Comment: This is a good introductory overview for the metaphysics and epistemology of self-knowledge. The book provides an excellent discussion on the nature and scope of (purportedly) special self-knowledge. As such it can be used as a starting point for an advanced undergraduate course on self-knowledge. Moreover, the book features a comprehensive overview of three main approaches to an epistemology of self-knowledge (acquaintance, inner sense, rationalist), which makes it a suitable background reading.

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Kitcher, Patricia. Kant’s Thinker
2011, Oxford University Press.
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Added by: Chris Blake-Turner, Contributed by: Charlotte Sabourin

Abstract: The book presents Kant’s theory of the cognitive subject. It begins by setting the stage for his discussions of the unity and power of ‘apperception’ by presenting the attempts of his predecessors to explain the nature of the self and of self-consciousness, and the relation between self-consciousness and object cognition. The central chapters lay out the structure of the transcendental deduction, the argument from cognition to the necessary unity of apperception, and the relations among his theories of the unity and power of apperception, the ‘psychological ideal,’ and the ‘noumenal’ self. Later chapters draw on this material to offer a more precise account of his criticism that the Rational Psychologists failed to understand the unique character of the representation ‘I-think’ and to defend Kant against the charges that his theory of cognition and apperception is inconsistent or psychologistic. The concluding chapters present Kantian alternatives to recent theories of the activities of the self in cognition and moral action, the self-ascription of belief, knowledge of other minds, the appropriate explananda for theories of consciousness, and the efficacy of ‘transcendental’ arguments.

Comment: [This is a stub entry. Please add your comments to help us expand it]

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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

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. Are we luminous?
2015, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research: 90 (2): 294-319.
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Added by: Jie Gao

Abstract: Since its appearance over a decade ago, Timothy Williamson’s anti-luminosity argument has come under sustained attack. Defenders of the luminous overwhelmingly object to the argument’s use of a certain margin-for-error premise. Williamson himself claims that the premise follows easily from a safety condition on knowledge together with his description of the thought experiment. But luminists argue that this is not so: the margin-for-error premise either requires an implausible interpretation of the safety requirement on knowledge, or it requires other equally implausible assumptions. In this paper I bolster the margin-for-error premise against these attacks by recasting Williamson’s own two-part defence, the first part intended to work on the assumption that there is no constitutive connection between the phenomenal and the doxastic, and the second intended to work without this assumption. Pace various luminists, I argue that the appeals to safety needed for Williamson’s two-part defence are plausible. I also argue that all that is needed to generate the margin-for-error premise from these safety conditions is an empirical assumption about the kinds of creatures we are: that is, creatures whose beliefs are structured by certain dispositions. By recasting the anti-luminosity argument in this way, we can understand what is really at stake in the debate about luminosity: that is, whether we are luminous.

Comment: In this paper, Sirinivasan defends Williamson's anti-luminosity argument against a general criticism having to do with a certain margin-for-error premise. It is good for teaching upper-level undergraduate or Masters courses on topics of self-knowledge, epistemic externalism or luminosity.

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