The transparency of belief and the first-person perpective

  1. Lopez Campillo, Jesus
Supervised by:
  1. Ángel María García Rodríguez Director

Defence university: Universidad de Murcia

Fecha de defensa: 30 October 2020

Committee:
  1. Luis Manuel Valdés Villanueva Chair
  2. María José Alcaraz León Secretary
  3. Andy Hamilton Committee member

Type: Thesis

Abstract

The main argument developed in this dissertation is that it is possible to best explain self-deception and Moore's paradox from a behavioural-expressivist conception of Transparency of belief. Transparency of belief consists in the fact that the question "Do you believe that p?" is sometimes answered in the same way as the question "Is p the case?" (so that the former is "transparent" to the latter). Epistemic accounts of Transparency consider that the question "Do you belief that p?" always asks about the subject's belief that p and that it is sometimes answered in the same way as the question "Is p the case?" because of the first-person process of belief-formation responsible of first-person self-knowledge. By contrast, the behavioural-expressivist account of Transparency advocated here considers that the question "Do you believe that p?" can be meant either in a deliberative or in a self-ascriptive way. When it is mean in a deliberative way, it asks about whether p, and so, it is answered in the same way as the question "Is p the case?" because it is answered with a judgement about p; i.e., with an expressive episode of the newly formed belief. And when it is meant in a self-ascriptive way, it asks about whether the subject believes that p, and so, it is answered in a different way than the question "Is p the case?" because it is answered by self-inspection on the basis of evidence about one's own mental states. Against epistemic accounts of Transparency, the behavioural-expressivist account also considers that self-knowledge can be understood in an epistemic and in a non-epistemic way. Epistemic self-knowledge (i.e., true warranted second-order belief) is a third-person phenomenon resulting from self-inspection. By contrast, first-person self-knowledge is an expressive phenomenon because it is a matter of self-conscious expression. Self-deceived subjects manifest an irrational conflict between what they sincerely say (e.g., "I believe that I am healthy") and how they act (e.g., avoiding doctor's appointments, conversations about medical issues, etc.). It has been claimed that self-deception is explained because the subject has the intention to deceive herself, because of a motivationally biased belief, because of an epistemic failure in the process of first-person self-knowledge, and because self-deception is a sui generis mental state. In this dissertation, it is argued that self-deception is explained from the behavioural-expressivist account of Transparency by claiming that self-deception is a sui generis mental state that involves both lack of first-person expressive self-knowledge (for self-deceived mental states are impossible to express in a self-conscious way) and difficulties to acquire third-person epistemic self-knowledge (for they might be easily confused by conscious mental states; e.g., beliefs, desires or intentions). Moore's paradox arises because the sentences "p, but I don't believe that p" and "p, but I believe that not-p" are irrational to assert in spite of the fact that they can be true. It has been argued that Moore's paradox arises because those sentences lack appropriate assertion-conditions, because their assertion involves some kind of psychological inconsistency, because their assertion involves an epistemic failure in the first-person process of self-knowledge, or because their assertion involves a semantic contradiction in spite of appearances. In this dissertation, it is argued that Moore's paradox is explained from the behavioural-expressivist account of Transparency in the following way. When the sentences "p, but I don't believe that p" and "p, but I believe that not-p" are issued from the first-person deliberative perspective, they are contradictions and irrational to assert. And when they are issued from the third-person self-inspective perspective, they have possible truth-conditions and they are not irrational to assert.