Special Issue "Expression and Self-Knowledge"

A special issue of Philosophies (ISSN 2409-9287).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 July 2021) | Viewed by 1044

Special Issue Editors

Department of Philosophy, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT 06269, USA
Interests: language and mind; epistemology; metaethics
Department of Philosophy, York University, Toronto, ON M3J 1P3, Canada
Interests: epistemology; mind; metaethics

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Ordinarily, when someone sincerely and first-personally self-ascribes—avows—a state of mind, it is not appropriate to ask them to provide further epistemic support for it, and there is usually no one we ought to trust more than the avower. In this way, avowals are said to enjoy first-person authority.

Contemporary accounts of first-person authority divide into epistemic and non-epistemic kinds. Epistemic accounts hold that first-person authority is due to the fact that each of us can be presumed to know, in a way that no one else can, whether she is in a given mental state, and that when it comes to such states, we each know best.

By contrast, non-epistemic accounts seek to explain first-person authority without appeal to the avowers’ self-knowledge. Perhaps the most prominent non-epistemic account is a version of expressivism. This view argues that first-person authority is due to the fact that avowals resemble behaviors such as crying, laughing, or saying: “How annoying!”. They serve, like these behaviors, to express the states of mind that avowers self-ascribe, rather than to report avowers’ beliefs about those states. First-person authority has to do with the fact that avowals directly express self-ascribed states, rather than with the avowers’ special knowledge of those states.

Although these approaches to explaining first-person authority are distinct, it is possible that our capacities for self-knowledge and for expression are both crucial to understanding the special relation we bear to our inner lives (possibly even beyond our capacity to avow). The aim of this Special Issue is to explore new insights into the relationships between self-knowledge and expression. We welcome papers addressing pertinent themes or any of the following questions:

  • Ought we to prefer an epistemic explanation of first-person authority, or an expressivist one? Ought we to prefer neither, or some combination?
  • If expressivism is to be preferred, what sort of expressivist should we be?
  • Do we need self-knowledge in order to avow, whether or not self-knowledge explains first-person authority?
  • How might expression explain self-knowledge?
  • Are there important relationships between expression and practical knowledge?
  • In what ways can accounts of self-knowledge and expression address the phenomenon of “transparency”, as in Evans (1982)?
  • In what ways might self-knowledge relate to our capacity for non-avowing forms of expression?
  • What overlooked lessons can Wittgenstein teach us about self-knowledge, avowal, and expression more generally?
  • Is self-knowledge straightforwardly propositional knowledge or, perhaps, something like an ability, and how might differing conceptions of self-knowledge affect our understanding of the relationship between self-knowledge and expression?

Prof. Dr. Dorit Bar-On
Dr. Ben Winokur
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1200 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.


  • Self-knowledge
  • Privileged Access
  • Peculiar Access
  • Expression
  • Avowal
  • First-Person Authority
  • Transparency
  • Wittgenstein

Published Papers

There is no accepted submissions to this special issue at this moment.
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