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Externalism and First-Person Authority

Cynthia Macdonald
Synthese
Vol. 104, No. 1 (Jul., 1995), pp. 99-122
Published by: Springer
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/20117418
Page Count: 24
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Externalism and First-Person Authority
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Abstract

Externalism in the philosophy of mind is threatened by the view that subjects are authoritative with regard to the contents of their own intentional states. If externalism is to be reconciled with first-person authority, two issues need to be addressed: (a) how the non-evidence-based character of knowledge of one's own intentional states is compatible with ignorance of the empirical factors that individuate the contents of those states, and (b) how, given externalism, the non-evidence-based character of such knowledge could place its subject in an authoritative position. This paper endorses a standard strategy for dealing with (a). The bulk of the paper is devoted to (b). The aim is to develop an account of first-person authority for a certain class of intentional states that is capable of explaining (1) why knowledge of one's own intentional states is peculiarly authoritative, and (2) why such authority is compatible with externalism.

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