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Transparency, Shared Consciousness, and Mineness: Essays on Self-Knowledge

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Abstract

This dissertation consists of three papers on self-knowledge. Since the transparency approach to introspection need not posit a dedicated mechanism specialized for detecting one’s own mental states, its economy is often viewed as a major advantage. But sometimes economy comes at the cost of relying on controversial views of the natures of mental states. Perceptual experience is a case in point. For example, Byrne’s account relies on the view that experience involves belief, and Boyle’s account relies on the view that experience involves a form of implicit consciousness of experience. Chapter 1 develops a transparency account of our access to our experiences that retains the benefit of economy while avoiding the cost of relying on controversial views of the nature of experience. I start by criticizing Byrne’s and Boyle’s accounts. I then develop my own account. I argue that when you attend to an object, your experience gives you justification to believe that you see the object. I close by highlighting some advantages of my account. It is widely held that there is an asymmetry between our access to our mental states and our access to those mental states of others that are not shared by us. What if a mental state can have multiple subjects? Is there still an asymmetry between our access to our mental states and our access to those mental states of others that are also ours? Chapter 2 discusses the implications of a case of shared consciousness—the case of the Hogan twins—for asymmetry. I start by clarifying the notion of asymmetry. I develop a characterization of asymmetry and argue that it is preferable to the standard approaches. I then present the twins’ case and argue that it does not threaten asymmetry. I close by drawing some lessons. When you are in a conscious state, are you aware of it as your own? Let us say that a conscious state has “mineness” just in case its subject is aware of it as her own when she is in it. And let us call the view that all ordinary conscious states have mineness “typicalism.” Recently, Guillot has offered a novel argument for typicalism by leveraging the relation between self-knowledge and self-awareness. She starts by arguing that all ordinary conscious states give their subjects immediate justification to believe that their conscious states are their own. She then argues that this can be explained by typicalism. Chapter 3 argues that her argument fails. I start by clarifying the notion of mineness and giving more details about her argument. I then explain why her argument fails by raising doubts about whether typicalism explains the explanandum. I close by considering some implications of our discussion for self-knowledge.

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2023-05

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asymmetry; consciousness; introspection; mineness; self-knowledge; transparency

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Silins, Nicholas

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Pereboom, Derk
Nichols, Shaun

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Philosophy

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Ph. D., Philosophy

Degree Level

Doctor of Philosophy

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Government Document

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dissertation or thesis

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