Graduate Students

Drew Johnson: “Disjunctive Luminosity”

Read graduate student Drew Johnson's recent article in Thought: A Journal of Philosophy, "Disjunctive Luminosity."

*Abstract*

Williamson's influential anti‐luminosity argument aims to show that our own mental states are not “luminous,” and that we are thus “cognitively homeless.” Among other things, this argument represents a significant challenge to the idea that we enjoy basic self‐knowledge of our own occurrent mental states. In this paper, I summarize Williamson's anti‐luminosity argument, and discuss the role that the notion of “epistemic basis” plays in it. I argue that the anti‐luminosity argument relies upon a particular version of the basis‐relative safety condition on knowledge. This commitment is significant because basic self‐knowledge seemingly lacks any kind of distinct epistemic basis, such as inference, observation, testimony, etc., despite representing a genuine kind of knowledge of contingent matters of fact. I consider a disjunctivist account (due to Bar‐On and Johnson), according to which true basic self‐beliefs indeed lack an epistemic basis in any kind of epistemic method (such as inference), yet are still epistemically grounded in the mental states they concern. I argue that this account of self‐knowledge is compatible with standard understandings of the basis relative safety condition on knowledge, but rejects the particular version required by the anti‐luminosity argument.

 

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