A role for ownership and authorship in the analysis of thought insertion

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Colleges, School and Institutes


Philosophers are interested in the phenomenon of thought insertion because it challenges the common assumption that one can ascribe to oneself the thoughts that one can access first-personally. In the standard philosophical analysis of thought insertion, the subject owns the 'inserted' thought but lacks a sense of agency towards it. In this paper we want to provide an alternative analysis of the condition, according to which subjects typically lack both ownership and authorship of the 'inserted' thoughts. We argue that by appealing to a failure of ownership and authorship we can describe more accurately the phenomenology of thought insertion, and distinguish it from that of non-delusional beliefs that have not been deliberated about, and of other delusions of passivity. We can also start developing a more psychologically realistic account of the relation between intentionality, rationality and self knowledge in normal and abnormal cognition.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)205-224
Number of pages20
JournalPhenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences
Issue number2
Early online date27 Aug 2008
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2009


  • Intentionality, Self-knowledge, Self-ascription, Authorship of thoughts, Thought insertion, First-person authority, Rationality, Ownership of thoughts