Immunity to error through misidentification and the trilemma about the self
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The thesis addresses the issues of error through misidentification and immunity to error through misidentification in relation to the problem of the first person. First, it provides an explanation of error through misidentification. Secondly, it shows that there are two possible ways of understanding immunity to error through misidentification. It is then argued that the first understanding of immunity to error through misidentification leads to what is labelled "the trilemma about the self". That is to say, either we provide an explanation of immunity to error through misidentification, but we subscribe to two contentious metaphysical views about the self-the Cartesian and the Idealist; or else we hold the view that the self is identical with a human being, but we have no explanation of immunity to error through misidentification. It is then shown that in order to solve the trilemma, a different understanding of immunity to error through misidentification must be offered. After discussing various possible understandings of immunity to error through misidentification, a sound account of it is finally provided. Moreover, it is shown how non-inferential, introspection-based mental self-ascriptions can comply with it, in such a way that they turn out to be logically immune to error through misidentification. Finally, by drawing on Evans' and Peacocke's accounts of the possession conditions of the first person concept-in which IEM I-judgements play a central role-, it is shown that it is a concept of a human being who thinks of herself as such. Hence, our first person concept is firmly anti-Cartesian and anti-Idealist. As a consequence, it is maintained that not only is there no need to hold the Cartesian and the Idealist metaphysics of the self in order to explain why some I-judgements can be immune to error through misidentification, but it is also argued that one can no longer be either Cartesian or Idealist. For that would expose one to conceptual incoherence.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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