Knowing your own mind
Owens (David)
Source: Dialogue 42.4, 2003, pp. 791-798
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Philosophers Index Abstract

    The paper is a critical notice of Richard Moran's book Authority and Estrangement. Moran argues that we know what we are doing because we create our actions for reasons. And since believing, intending, etc., are things we do, we have a similar ability to know what we are believing, intending, etc. I argue that the force of the examples Moran uses to support his epistemology of agency depend on his not distinguishing akrasia or incontinence from the rather different phenomenon of irresolution. [FIRST PARAGRAPH] What is it to “know your own mind”? In ordinary English, this phrase connotes clear headed decisiveness and a firm resolve but in the language of contemporary philosophy, the indecisive and the susceptible can know their own minds just as well as anybody else. In the philosopher’s usage, “knowing your own mind” is just a matter of being able to produce a knowledgeable description of your mental state, whether it be a state of indecision, susceptibility or even confusion. What exercises philosophers is the fact that people seem to produce these descriptions of their own mental lives without any pretence of considering evidence or reasons of any kind and yet these descriptions are treated by the rest of us as authoritative, at least in a wide range of cases. How can this be?

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