, Volume 71, Issue 1, pp 35–51

Self-Intimation and Second Order Belief

Original Article

DOI: 10.1007/s10670-009-9172-z

Cite this article as:
Shoemaker, S. Erkenn (2009) 71: 35. doi:10.1007/s10670-009-9172-z


The paper defends the view that there is a constitutive relation between believing something and believing that one believes it. This view is supported by the incoherence of affirming something while denying that one believes it, and by the role awareness of the contents one’s belief system plays in the rational regulation of that system. Not all standing beliefs are accompanied by higher-order beliefs that self-ascribe them; those that are so accompanied are ones that are “available” in the sense that their subjects are poised to assent to their contents, to use them as premises in reasoning, and to be guided by them in their behavior. The account is compatible with the possibility of negative self-deception—mistakenly believing that one does not believe something—but the closest thing to positive self-deception it allows is believing falsely that a belief with a certain content is one’s dominant belief on a certain matter through failure to realize that one has a stronger belief that contradicts it. The view has implications about Moore’s paradox that contradict widely held views. On this view self-ascriptions of beliefs can be warranted and grounded on reasons—but the reasons are not phenomenally conscious mental states (as held by Christopher Peacocke) but rather available beliefs.

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Sage School of PhilosophyCornell UniversityIthacaUSA

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