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Consciousness and its Objects$
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Colin McGinn

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9780199267606

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2005

DOI: 10.1093/019926760X.001.0001

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Inverted First‐Person Authority

Inverted First‐Person Authority

Chapter:
(p.196) 9 Inverted First‐Person Authority
Source:
Consciousness and its Objects
Author(s):

Colin McGinn (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/019926760X.003.0010

It is often assumed that mental states must be known introspectively just as material objects must be known perceptually, and that this mode of knowing is especially authoritative; this chapter controverts this assumption. It is argued that a subject might introspect physical facts and perceive mental ones; and that a strong conception of the first-person authority of introspection – non-criterial, non-inferential, direct, infallible, incorrigible, certain – might apply instead to perception. The implications of the logical possibility of such an inverted subject for scepticism and the mind-body problem are discussed. The tension between the view of this chapter, which would make it possible for a subject to have a concept of pain without having introspective acquaintance with it, and the view that this is impossible is discussed.

Keywords:   first-person authority, introspection, mind-body problem, perception, scepticism

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