Self-knowledge and knowing other minds: The implicit/explicit distinction as a tool in understanding theory of mind


Correspondence should be addressed to Tillmann Vierkant, Dugald Stewart Building, 3 Charles Street, Edinburgh, EH8 9AD, UK (e-mail:


Holding content explicitly requires a form of self-knowledge. But what does the relevant self-knowledge look like? Using theory of mind as an example, this paper argues that the correct answer to this question will have to take into account the crucial role of language-based deliberation but warns against the standard assumption that explicitness is necessary for ascribing awareness. It argues in line with Bayne that intentional action is at least an equally valid criterion for awareness. This leads to a distinction between different levels of implicitness. Postulating these different levels, it is argued, allows us to make better sense of the empirical literature on early false-belief task abilities.