, Volume 25, Issue 1, pp 1-7
Date: 15 Jan 2010

Précis of Dorit Bar-On’s Speaking My Mind: Expression and Self-Knowledge

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Consider everyday utterances such as ‘I’m feeling very tired’, ‘I’m scared of that dog’, ‘I’m wondering whether it’s going to rain’. Like other ordinary pronouncements, such utterances—‘avowals’, as they are often called—appear to inform us of certain contingent states of affairs. Semantically speaking, an avowal will typically identify an individual—the speaker—and ascribe to her an occurrent mental state—feeling thirsty, feeling scared of the dog, hoping that it doesn’t rain, etc. It will be true in the same circumstances as any ascription that identified that same individual and ascribed to her the same condition at the same time (‘She/DB is/was feeling very tired’). It can also serve as a premise in humdrum logical inferences (‘I feel nervous, and so do you; so that makes two of us’). I refer to the claim that avowals are truth-evaluable, and share grammatical and logico-semantic structure with other ascriptions, as Semantic Continuity.

However, epistemically speaking, avowals seem