Workshop on Self-knowledge
The contemporary philosophical discussion about knowledge of one’s own mental states has branched out to nearby areas of the philosophy of language and mind, epistemology and theory of action in interesting and fruitful ways. This workshop covers some of the facets of the contemporary discussion: in what way is introspective knowledge of one’s own mental states tied to rationality? Is it a rational failure to be in a conscious mental state of a certain kind without having introspective knowledge that one is? What is the relation between de se knowledge of one’s own mental states, and non-de se knowledge of one’s own mental states? Can non-de se knowledge of mental states be just as important as de se knowledge of one’s own mental states is? How is introspective knowledge of mental states related to phenomena that are apparently closely connected to such knowledge, such as Moore’s paradox and the KK principle in epistemology?
Speakers and Programme
- Aidan McGlynn, University of Edinburgh
- Léa Salje, University of Leeds
- Daniel Stoljar, Australian National University
10:15–11:45 Aidan McGlynn: "Suspicious Minds: Moore’s Paradox and Commitment"
Annalisa Coliva’s recent book The Varieties of Self-Knowledge offers a diagnosis of Moore’s paradox (the absurdity of beliefs and assertions of the form ‘P, but I don’t believe P’) according to which it requires taking seriously a distinction between two different kinds of belief: belief as disposition and belief as commitment. In fact, she suggests that if we don’t accept an account of the paradox along these lines, we’re in danger of ‘losing’ the paradox. In this talk, I explore whether a treatment of Moore’s paradox along different lines really does lose the paradox, focusing on whether the simple account of the paradox I’ve endorsed elsewhere (‘Believing Things Unknown’, 2013) needs to be modified or rejected in light of Coliva’s examples and arguments.
14:00–15:30 Léa Salje
Lewis’s two Gods knew every proposition that was true at their world, but they didn’t know everything. Neither of them knew which God he was, truths they would have expressed using words like ‘I’ or ‘me’. We’re lucky—we aren’t like Lewis’s Gods. The nature of this advantage has been much explored under the guise of the essential indexical thesis, the thesis that indexical attitudes have an essential role in intentional action explanations. Imagine now a third God, omniscient but for the following limitation: she can’t think of herself except in the first personal way. In this talk I draw on this third God’s predicament in arguing for the thesis that non-indexical self-directed attitudes play a significant role in our agentive lives too. Our non-indexical ways of thinking of ourselves are sometimes just as important as our indexical ways of thinking.
15:45–17:15 Daniel Stoljar: "Does rationality require you to believe you are conscious?"
Several philosophers have suggested that there is a deep connection between consciousness and rationality—but what exactly is the connection and how should it be explained? This paper focuses on the idea that it is a requirement of rationality that if you are in a conscious state, you will believe that you are, at least in certain circumstances. An introspective belief, from this point of view, is a belief of this type formed in this particular way; and introspective knowledge is an introspective belief that constitutes knowledge. After setting out the motivations for this idea, I focus on various questions about the suggested requirement: what its precise form should be, and whether it can be derived from other requirements of rationality.