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.
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