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Title: The self and self-conciousness
Authors: Hamilton, Andrew J.
Supervisors: Wright, Crispin
Issue Date: 1988
Abstract: It is the aim of this thesis to consider two accounts of 1st-person utterances that are often mistakenly conflated - viz. that involving the 'no-reference' view of "I", and that of the non-assertoric thesis of avowals. The first account says that in a large range of (roughly) 'psychological' uses, 'I' is not a referring expression; the second, that avowals of 1st-personal 'immediate' experience are primarily 'expressive' and not genuine assertions. The two views are expressions of what I term 'Trojanism'. This viewpoint constitutes one side of a 'Homeric Opposition in the Metaphysics of Experience', and has been endorsed by Wittgenstein throughout his writings; it has received recent expression in Professor Anscombe's article 'The First Person'. I explore the ideas of these writers in some depth, and consider to what extent they stand up to criticism by such notable 'Greek' contenders as P.F. Strawson and Gareth Evans. I first give neutral accounts of the key-concepts on which subsequent arguments are based. These are the immunity to error through misidentification (IEM) of certain 1st-person utterances, the guaranteed reference of 'I', avowal, and the Generality Constraint. I consider the close relation of Trojanism to solipsism and behaviourism, and then assess the effectiveness of two arguments for that viewpoint - Anscombe's Tank Argument and the argument from IEM. Though each is appealing, neither is decisive; to assess Trojanism properly we need to look at the non-assertoric thesis of avowals, which alone affords the prospect of a resolution of the really intractable problems of the self generated by Cartesianism. In the course of the latter assessment I consider the different varieties of avowal, broadening the discussion beyond the over-used example 'I am in pain'. I explore Wittgenstein's notion of 'expression', and discuss how this notion may help to explain the authority a subject possesses on his mental states as expressed in avowals. My conclusion is that an expressive account of avowals can provide a satisfactory counter to the Cartesian account of authority without our needing recourse to a non-assertoric or even to a non- cognitive thesis. Discussion of self-consciousness is implicit in discussion of the Homeric Opposition, but there is in addition a short chapter on the concept itself.
Type: Thesis
Publisher: University of St Andrews
Appears in Collections:Philosophy Theses

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