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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

(p.196) 9 Inverted First‐Person Authority
Consciousness and its Objects

Colin McGinn (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

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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