Social Externalism and First-Person Authority
Baker (Lynne Rudder)
Source: Erkenntnis, 67:287–300, 2007
Paper - Abstract

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Author’s Abstract

  1. Social Externalism is the thesis that many of our thoughts are individuated in part by the linguistic and social practices of the thinker’s community.
  2. After defending Social Externalism and arguing for its broad application, I turn to the kind of defeasible first-person authority that we have over our own thoughts.
  3. Then, I present and refute an argument that uses first-person authority to disprove Social Externalism.
  4. Finally, I argue briefly that Social Externalism — far from being incompatible with first-person authority — provides a check on first-personal pronouncements and thus saves first-person authority from being simply a matter of social convention and from collapsing into the subjectivity of “what seems right is right.”


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