Diaphora Workshop VI : Self-Knowledge

Practical information
13 June 2019

Salon du Concordia, 41 Rue Tournefort, 75005 Paris


Paris, 11-13 June 2019
Venue : Salon du Concordia, 41 Rue Tournefort, 75005 Paris

Program and abstracts

Tuesday 11th June 2019

09:30-10:45 : Stephan Torre (Aberdeen) : "The Virtual yet Real Self"

10:45-11:00 : Coffee Break

11:00-11h50 : Anna Giustina (ENS, Paris) : "Knowledge by Acquaintance Revisited"
11:50-12h40 : Peter Pagin (Stockholm) : "Communicating and Reporting de se Beliefs"

12:40-14:00 : Lunch Break

14:00-14:50 : Frédérique de Vignemont (ENS, Paris) : " A phenomenal contrast for bodily ownership"
14:50-15:40 : Jonathan Dittrich (MCMP/LMU Munich) : " Penguins and Paradoxes "

15:40-16:00 : Coffee Break

16:00-16:50 : Matt Jope (Edinburgh) : "Theoretical symmetry in the epistemology of perception and the epistemology of testimony"
17:00-18:30 : Board Meeting

Wednesday 12th June 2019

09:30-10:45 : Dorothea Debus (Konstanz) : "Self-Knowledge and Mental Self-Regulation"

10:45-11:00 : Coffee Break

11:00-11h50 : Aidan McGlynn (Edinburgh) : "The Whats and Whys of Wh-Misidentification"
11:50-12h40 : Michele Palmira (Barcelona) : " Thought Insertion and Immunity To Error Through Misidentification"

12:40-14:00 : Lunch Break

14:00-14:50 : Tricia Magalotti (ENS, Paris) : "Self-Knowledge and Emotions"
14:50-15:40 : Slawa Loev (ENS, Paris) : " Intuitions are Epistemic Feelings : A Feeling Theory of Intuition "

15:40-16:00 : Coffee Break

16:00-17:30 : Round-table Discussion (Moderator : Manuel Garcia-Carpintero)

Thursday 13th June 2019

09:30-12:00 : ESRs’ Training Day VII : Training session on job applications

Diaphora has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 675415 


Stephan Torre - The Virtual yet Real Self

There is a family of accounts about the nature of the self that is oftentimes propounded, defended, and criticised without distinguishing among its members. These views claim that there is no self, that the self is merely fictional or intentional, or that the self is virtual. I think that the correct account of the self is a member of this family, but some of its siblings are non-starters. Many of the objections that have been levelled against this family of views are either surmountable, or they succeed only against one of the nonviable siblings. In this talk I will develop and defend the view that the self is virtual yet real. This account of the self is motivated by various thought experiments that provide insight into the nature of the self, and provides plausible and attractive ways of responding to various objections raised against this family of views.

Anna Giustina - Knowledge by acquaintance revisited

Knowledge by acquaintance is (roughly) knowledge we have of that which we are directly aware of. In this paper, I argue that knowledge by acquaintance is a sui generis kind of knowledge : it is irreducible to propositional knowledge, i.e. a kind of knowledge that entails belief and thereby the deployment of some concepts on the part of the subject. I present some cases in which one intuitively seems to have a kind of knowledge which exceeds possession of propositional knowledge. Based on the intuitions elicited by those cases, I argue that there is prima facie reason to believe that knowledge by acquaintance is a sui generis kind of knowledge. Then, I consider two objections to my claim : the objection from disunity and the objection from mysteriousness. I show that these objections can be answered and that knowledge by acquaintance being sui generis remains a live option on the table.

Peter Pagin- Communicating and reporting de se beliefs

Plausibly, a belief that is successfully communicated can also be successfully reported. Suppose that X in communication with Y expresses the belief that p and that Y as a result gets the distinct thought that q. Suppose further that p and q similar enough for the communication to count as successful. Can Y then also truly report X as believing that q ? What are the truth-conditions for such approximately correct reports ? In particular, can we find truth-conditions for such approximations that apply even when the belief is de se ?

Tricia Magalotti - Self-Knowledge and Emotions

On certain models of emotions, some emotions can constitute (not merely provide justification for) a kind of self-knowledge. In particular, our emotions can be a source of knowledge about our own values. If an athlete fears performing badly in a game, this fear can embed knowledge that performing well is important to her. Likewise, if I am sad that my friend is moving to a different city, then this fear can embed knowledge that I value my friend (or at least being able to spend time with him). We can also imagine less banal examples (psychotherapy comes to mind) in which someone discovers something about their values by way of emotions that they might not have been able to access otherwise. In this talk, I wish to explain how some plausible theories of emotion have the implication that emotions constitute knowledge of values and to investigate what, if anything, is distinctive about this emotional kind of knowledge. 

Jonathan Dittrich - Penguins and Paradoxes

This talk investigates ways in which concepts and methods from artificial intelligence, namely nonmonotonic and default logics, can be applied to contemporary solutions to paradoxes of truth. Default logics are used to explain and systematize how and why we should make exceptions in order to restore consistency of an inconsistent set of beliefs. The beliefs i) tweety is a penguin ii) all penguins are birds, iii) all birds fly, and iv) penguins do not fly are all individually motivated but together they are inconsistent. This is because i) - iv) allow us to infer that tweety both can and cannot fly. Looking at a formal representation of this inconsistency in terms of graphs suggests that we restrict the principle concerning birds being able to fly rather than e.g. that tweety is a penguin or that penguins are birds. This choice is explained in terms of a difference of generality between the predicates of being a bird and being a penguin. This notion of generality can be made formally precise in a general way by looking at the order of inferences necessary to generate the inconsistency. I take this approach and apply it to truth-theoretic approach, where it can be used to provide a new motivation for an already existing non transitive theory of truth. Further, it can be used to improve on the existing approach by constructing an appealing restriction on principles of transitivity rather than giving it up completely.

Matt Jope - Theoretical symmetry in the epistemology of perception and the epistemology of testimony

One important question in the epistemology of perception is whether justification for perceptual belief is immediate or whether it depends on justification for other beliefs. Conservatives hold that perceptual justification does depend on prior justification for other beliefs, liberals deny this. A seemingly similar issue arises in the epistemology of testimony regarding whether justification for testimonial belief depends on prior justification for other beliefs. Reductionists hold that testimonial justification depends on prior justification for other beliefs, anti-reductionists deny this. Similar pairs of motivations and similar pairs of problems are found in each debate, suggesting an underlying theoretical symmetry between the two. Theoretical symmetry entails that if reductionism is the correct view of testimonial justification, then conservatism is the correct view of perceptual justification, and vice-versa. This is bad news for reductionists as conservatism leads to all sorts of difficult problems that I and others have raised elsewhere. Recognising this problem, reductionists have tried to reject symmetry. I consider a number of reductionist attempts to reject symmetry and show that they do not succeed. In light of this, I argue that symmetry is the default position and thus reductionists, unless they can offer a more convincing case against symmetry, ought to be prepared to defend conservatism. 

Dorothea Debus - Self-Knowledge and Mental Self-Regulation

The present paper departs from the observation that subjects sometimes can and do engage in mental self-regulation, that is, that subjects sometimes can be, and are, actively involved in their own mental lives in a goal-directed way. This ability of mental self-regulation is not only of philosophical interest in its own right, but it also seems to play an important role for our ability to gain a certain kind of self-knowledge, namely, our ability to gain knowledge about our own mental lives. Indeed, as I hope to show in the present paper, we have reason to hold that a subject’s ability to gain knowledge about her own mental life on the one hand, and her ability to engage in mental self-regulation on the other, are abilities which are in some important ways mutually interdependent.

Aidan McGlynn - The Whats and Whys of Wh-Misidentification

This paper has two principal aims. First, it responds to arguments due to Joel Smith and Annalisa Coliva that try to show that James Pryor’s notion of wh-misidentification is philosophically uninteresting, and perhaps even spurious. Second, it proposes refined characterizations of wh-misidentification and immunity to wh-misidentification which improve in various ways on the characterisations that standardly figure in the literature.

Michele Palmira - Thought Insertion and Immunity To Error Through Misidentification

In this paper I aim to illuminate the significance of thought insertion for debates about introspection-based self-ascriptions of psychological properties and their alleged immunity to error through misidentification relative to the first-person concept. Focusing on the phenomenon of error through “which-object” misidentification, in the first part of the paper I explain what a thought insertion-based counterexample should be like, and then argue that various thought insertion-involving scenarios do not give rise to successful counterexamples to the immunity of the target class of self-ascriptions. In the second part of the paper I turn to defend a Metasemantic Explanation of why the immunity thesis holds. The key contention is that the immunity thesis holds since introspective impressions – which act as grounds of such self-ascriptions – play an essential role in fixing the reference of the first-person concept. It is part of my argument in favour of the Metasemantic Explanation that it respects the paradigmatic features of self-ascriptions of inserted thoughts.

Frédérique de Vignemont - A phenomenal contrast for bodily ownership

Anscombe (1957, 1962) famously claimed that we do not feel our legs as being crossed ; we simply know that they are that way. What about the rest of the knowledge that we have of our body, and more specifically of the fact that it belongs to us ? The question is : do we actually feel this body that way, or do we merely know it ? The debate is structured between those who defend a liberal or rich view of phenomenology and those who defend a sparse and thus conservative view. In the recent literature several authors have questioned the existence of a distinctive experiential signature for the sense of bodily ownership (Alsmith, 2015 ; Bermúdez, 2011, 2015 ; Martin, 1992, 1995 ; Wu, forthcoming). It does not seem that one can settle the debate about ownership feelings by a direct use of introspection in everyday life but one may still be able to apply the method of phenomenal contrast proposed by Siegel (2010). It proceeds in two steps. First, one describes a situation in which there is intuitively a phenomenal contrast between two experiences, one of which only instantiating the high-level property. The second step consists in drawing an inference to the best explanation of this contrast by ruling out alternative explanations. Most interest in the debate on the degree of richness of perceptual content has focused on visual awareness but it may as well be applied to bodily awareness. The only difference here is that it is more difficult to find scenarios in which one is not aware that this is one’s own hand than scenarios in which one is not aware that this is a pine tree. But not impossible. 

Slawa Loev - Intuitions are Epistemic Feelings : A Feeling Theory of Intuition

Here I offer an answer to the question : “What kind of mental state are intuitions ?” The answer consists in the “Feeling Theory of Intuition”, which holds that intuition experiences are epistemic feelings. Epistemic feelings belong to the class of affective experiences and comprise such feelings as the feeling of knowing and the feeling of familiarity. Among epistemic feelings we also find the feeling of rightness and wrongness whose circumscribed varieties – the feeling of truth and the feeling of falsity – are proposed to be identical with intuition experiences. The argument proceeds as follows : First, the target state is identified by outlining the largely phenomenal feature profile of intuition experiences. Second, some conceptual resources are put on the table that are usually employed to analyse affective experiences such as bodily and emotional feelings. Then, it is argued that epistemic feelings are affective in nature. This enables the application of the provided conceptual resources to epistemic feelings. Taking this as a point of departure, it is shown that some of these feelings, namely feelings of truth and feelings of falsity, fit the outlined feature profile of intuition experiences and are thus identical to them.