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The Journal of Philosophy

Volume 114, Issue 3, March 2017

Ivan Hu
Pages 113-133
DOI: 10.5840/jphil2017114310

The Epistemology of Immunity to Error through Misidentification

This paper offers several new insights into the epistemology of immunity to error through misidentification, by refining James Pryor’s distinction between de re misidentification and wh-misidentification. This is crucial for identifying exactly what is at issue in debates over the Immunity thesis that, roughly, all introspection-based beliefs about one’s own occurrent psychological states are immune to error through misidentification. I contend that the debate between John Campbell and Annalisa Coliva over whether the phenomenon of thought insertion provides empirical evidence against claims like Immunity has wrongly focused on de re misidentification and largely overlooked the role of wh-misidentification. I argue that, once we properly distinguish the two notions, subjects of thought insertion can be seen to make an error of wh-misidentification in their judgments. I argue that this disproves the Immunity thesis, properly understood, and show what broader implications this has for our understanding of IEM and the first person.