Philosophical Studies

, Volume 105, Issue 1, pp 43–58 | Cite as

Is Skepticism about Self-Knowledge Coherent?

  • Gary Ebbs


In previous work I argued that skepticism about the compatibility ofanti-individualism with self-knowledge is incoherent. Anthony Brueckner isnot convinced by my argument, for reasons he has recently explained inprint. One premise in Brueckner's reasoning is that a person'sself-knowledge is confined to what she can derive solely from herfirst-person experiences of using her sentences. I argue that Brueckner'sacceptance of this premise undermines another part of his reasoning – hisattempt to justify his claims about what thoughts our sincere utterances ofcertain sentences would express in various possible worlds. I describe aweird possible world in which a person who uses Brueckner's reasoning endsup with false beliefs about what thoughts her sincere utterances of certainsentences would express in various possible worlds. I recommend that wereject Brueckner's problematic conception of self-knowledge, and adopt onethat better fits the way we actually ascribe self-knowledge.


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  1. Brueckner, A. (1986): ‘Brains in Vats’, Journal of Philosophy 83, 148–167.Google Scholar
  2. Brueckner, A. (1997): ‘Is Skepticism About Self-Knowledge Incoherent?’, Analysis57, 287–290.Google Scholar
  3. Burge, T. (1979): ‘Individualism and the Mental’, in French, Uehling and Wettstein (eds.),Midwest Studies in Philosophy, Volume IV,Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.Google Scholar
  4. Ebbs, G. (1996): ‘Can We Take Our Words at Face Value?’, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 56, 499–530.Google Scholar
  5. Ebbs, G. (1997): Rule-Following and Realism, Cambridge,MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  6. Putnam, H. (1975): ‘The Meaning of “Meaning”’, in H. Putnam (ed.), Mind, Language, and Reality, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gary Ebbs
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of IllinoisUrbanaUSA

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