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Philosophical Studies

, Volume 172, Issue 8, pp 2215–2237 | Cite as

Expressing first-person authority

  • Matthew ParrottEmail author
Article

Abstract

Ordinarily when someone tells us something about her beliefs, desires or intentions, we presume she is right. According to standard views, this deferential trust is justified on the basis of certain epistemic properties of her assertion. In this paper, I offer a non-epistemic account of deference. I first motivate the account by noting two asymmetries between the kind of deference we show psychological self-ascriptions and the kind we grant to epistemic experts more generally. I then propose a novel agency-based account of deference. Drawing on recent work on self-knowledge, I argue that a person normally has a distinctive type of cognitive agency; specifically she is able to constitute her psychological attitudes by making judgments about what they ought to be. I then argue that a speaker expresses this agentive authority when she self-ascribes a psychological attitude and this is what justifies deferentially trusting what she says. Because the notion of expression plays a central role in this account, I contrast it with recent neo-expressivist theories.

Keywords

Expressivism Self-knowledge First-person authority Agency 

Notes

Acknowledgments

Earlier versions or parts of this essay were presented at the University of Oxford Theoretical Work in Progress Group, the University of Puget Sound, UC Berkeley, and UCLA. I am grateful to everyone who offered questions and comments on those occasions, particularly to Gregory Antill. For extremely thoughtful comments, and for many stimulating discussions on the topic of this essay, I must express special thanks to Andreas Anagnostopoulos, Tony Bezsylko, John Campbell, Anil Gomes, Nick Jones, Markus Kohl, Berislav Marusic, Michael Martin, Josh Sheptow, Michael Sollberger, James Stazicker, Barry Stroud, Lee Walters, and Daniel Warren. Finally, I wish to thank an anonymous referee for taking the time to read this essay and for offering very interesting and constructive feedback.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyKing’s College LondonLondonUK

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