Knowing Your Own BeliefsEric Schwitzgebel
Canadian Journal of Philosophy, 35 (2011), supplement 41-62. (Belief and Agency, ed. D. Hunter.)
Abstract: To believe is to possess a wide
variety of dispositions pertinent to the proposition believed.
Among those dispositions are self-ascriptive dispositions.
Consequently, being disposed to self-ascribe belief that P is partly
constitutive of believing that P. Such
self-ascriptive dispositions can be underwritten by any of a variety of
mechanisms, acting co-operatively or competitively.
But since self-ascriptive dispositions are only partly
constitutive of belief, there can be cases in which the self-ascriptive
dispositions splinter away from the remaining dispositions.
It is then an empirical question how often our self-ascriptive
dispositions diverge from the remaining dispositions constitutive of belief.
The dispositions will tend to align reliably when possession of the
belief in question is normatively neutral, straightforwardly connected to
behavior, and most centrally manifested in explicit assertions or judgments.
When these three conditions are not met, self-ascription, self-conscious
avowal, sincere utterance, and explicit judgment will often diverge from the
various other dispositions constitutive of belief.
Even self-knowledge of explicit judgment can be problematic when we are
attracted to half-empty forms of words or when we are not entirely persuaded of
what we are saying.
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