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Self-Knowledge for Humans$
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Quassim Cassam

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780199657575

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199657575.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 15 January 2021

Reality Check

Reality Check

(p.51) 5 Reality Check
Self-Knowledge for Humans

Quassim Cassam

Oxford University Press

To subject a philosophical account of self-knowledge to a ‘reality check’ is to ask whether the proposed account is psychologically realistic. Just as behavioural economics tries to provide the discipline of economics with more realistic psychological foundations, so philosophical accounts of self-knowledge need to ensure that they also have realistic psychological foundations. The distinction between homo sapiens and homo philosophicus is similar to Thaler and Sunstein’s distinction between homo sapiens and homo economicus. Rationalist and other philosophical accounts of self-knowledge are open to the objection that they are psychologically unrealistic. However, the relevant psychological facts are not beyond dispute. A distinction is drawn between three different senses in which an account of self-knowledge can qualify, or fail to qualify, as an account of self-knowledge ‘for humans’, an application sense, a conception sense, and a guidance sense.

Keywords:   reality check, behavioural economics, homo philosophicus, homo sapiens, homo economicus, psychological foundations, psychological facts

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