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Res Philosophica

Volume 98, Issue 1, January 2021

Benjamin Winokur
Pages 23-42

Critical Reasoning and the Inferential Transparency Method

Alex Byrne (2005; 2011a; 2011b; 2018) has argued that we can gain self-knowledge of our current mental states through the use of a transparency method. A transparency method provides an extrospective rather than introspective route to self-knowledge. For example, one comes to know whether one believes P not by thinking about oneself but by considering the world-directed question of whether P is true. According to Byrne, this psychological process consists in drawing inferences from world-directed propositions to mind-directed conclusions. In this article, I consider whether this ‘Inferential Transparency Method’ can provide us with the self-knowledge that some philosophers have thought we require in order to “critically reason” (Burge 1996), and I conclude that it cannot provide such self-knowledge. The force of this objection depends on how much stock we should place in our status as critical reasoners. However, I conclude by suggesting a more general worry for Byrne’s account.

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