Eyes directed outward: Alex Byrne: Transparency and Self-Knowledge


Conlan P, Merlo G & Wright C (2020) Eyes directed outward: Alex Byrne: Transparency and Self-Knowledge. Journal of Philosophy, 117 (6), pp. 332-351.

First paragraph: In an oft-cited passage in The Varieties of Reference, Gareth Evans wrote that In making a self-ascription of belief, one’s eyes are, so to speak, or occasionally literally, directed outward —upon the world. If someone asks me ‘Do you think there is going to be a third world war?’ I must attend, in answering him, to precisely the same outward phenomena as I would attend to if I were answering the question ‘Will there be a third world war?’ I get myself in a position to answer the question whether I believe that p by putting in to operation whatever procedure I have for answering the question whether p. (Evans, 1982, p. 225) Evans’ suggestion is that, at least in a significant range of cases, a question about one’s doxastic state is, in a now widespread terminology, transparent to a question about the non-mental world: answer the latter to your satisfaction and you thereby answer the former. Indeed, not only can you answer the psychological question in this ‘outward-looking’ kind of way, but moreover, Evans seems to suggest, you must do so.

Journal of Philosophy: Volume 117, Issue 6

FundersJohn Templeton Foundation
Publication date30/06/2020
Date accepted by journal21/01/2020