, Volume 26, Issue 1, pp 37-52
Date: 15 Jan 2011

Privileges of First-Person Reference and of Third-Person Reference

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Abstract

It is a widely held view that persons have privileged knowledge about their own minds, although numerous different views on what this privilege exactly consists of exist. One possible way of interpreting it is to claim that persons can refer to their own mental states in a privileged way. I will argue that this view has to be extended. Our common-sense view about reference to mental states implies that besides privileges of first-person reference to one's own mental states, there also exist privileges of third-person reference to the mental states of others: Other persons can refer to all of the mental states of a person in a way that the person cannot. In a next step, I will explain that persons can take two perspectives towards their own mental states: a first-person perspective and a third-person perspective. I will conclude that the possibilities of first-person reference from a third-person perspective are limited.