Introspection stands at the interface between two major currents in philosophy and related areas of science: on the one hand, there are metaphysical and scientific questions about the nature of consciousness; and on the other hand, there are normative and epistemological questions about the nature of self-knowledge. Introspection seems tied up with consciousness, to the point that some writers define consciousness in terms of introspection; and it is also tied up with self-knowledge, since introspection is the (...) distinctive way in which we come to know about ourselves and, in particular, about our own conscious mental states, processes and events. Each of these topics – consciousness and self-knowledge – has generated an extensive philosophical literature in its own right. But despite some notable exceptions, the relationship between consciousness and self-knowledge has been curiously neglected and remains poorly understood. Indeed, until quite recently, the sub-fields of philosophy of mind and epistemology were pursued largely in isolation from one another. Recent philosophy of mind has been dominated by metaphysical questions about the nature of consciousness and its place in the physical world, while much less attention has been devoted to questions about the epistemic role of consciousness as a source of knowledge and justified belief. Similarly, recent epistemology has been organized around questions about the nature of knowledge and justified belief, but much of this discussion has developed independently of recent work in philosophy of mind about the nature of consciousness. The impetus behind this volume is to bring together these two lines of research by exploring the nature of introspection, which lies at the intersection between consciousness and self-knowledge. This volume collects fourteen new essays and one reprinted essay in which the interplay between concerns in epistemology and the philosophy of mind is a major focus. (shrink)
This chapter develops a simple theory of introspection on which a mental state is introspectively accessible just by virtue of the fact that one is in that mental state. This theory raises two questions: first, a generalization question: which mental states are introspectively accessible; and second, an explanatory question: why are some mental states introspectively accessible, rather than others, or none at all? In response to the generalization question, I argue that a mental state is introspectively accessible if and (...) only if it is phenomenally individuated. And in response to the explanatory question, I argue that a mental state is introspectively accessible if and only if it is among the determinants of justification. This provides the basis of an argument for a phenomenal conception of justification, according to which a mental state is among the determinants of justification if and only if it is phenomenally individuated. (shrink)
The claim that behaviourally undetectable inverted spectra are possible has been endorsed by many physicalists. I explain why this starting point rules out standard forms of scientific explanation for qualia. The modern ‘phenomenal concept strategy’ is an updated way of defending problematic intuitions like these, but I show that it cannot help to recover standard scientific explanation. I argue that Chalmers is right: we should accept the falsity of physicalism if we accept this problematic starting point. I further argue that (...) accepting this starting point amounts to at least implicitly endorsing certain theoretical claims about the nature of introspection. I therefore suggest that we allow ourselves to be guided, in our quest to understand qualia, by whatever independently plausible theories of introspection we have. I propose that we adopt a more moderate definition of qualia, as those introspectible properties which cannot be fully specified simply by specifying the non-controversially introspectible ‘propositional attitude’ mental states (including seeing x, experiencing x, and so on, where x is a specification of a potentially public state of affairs). Qualia thus defined may well fit plausible, naturalisable accounts of introspection. If so, such accounts have the potential to explain, rather than explain away, the problematic intuitions discussed earlier; an approach that should allow integration of our understanding of qualia with the rest of science. (shrink)
In his provocative and engaging new book, Perplexities of Consciousness, Eric Schwitzgebel makes a compelling case that introspection is unreliable in the sense that we are prone to ignorance and error in making introspective judgments about our own conscious experience. My aim in this commentary is to argue that Schwitzgebel’s thesis about the unreliability of introspection does not have the damaging implications that he claims it does for the prospects of a broadly Cartesian approach to epistemology.
recent cognitive theories into two antagonistic groups. Sententialists claim that we think in some language, while advocates of non-linguistic views of cognition deny this claim. The Introspective Argument for Sententialism is one of the most appealing arguments for sententialism. In substance, it claims that the introspective fact of inner speech provides strong evidence that our thoughts are linguistic. This article challenges this argument. I claim that the Introspective Argument for Sententialism confuses the content of our thoughts with their vehicles: while (...) sententialism is a thesis about the vehicles of our thoughts, inner speech sentences are the content of auditory or articulatory images. The rebuttal of the introspective argument for sententialism is shown to have a general significance in cognitive science: introspection does not tell us how we think. The problem The introspective argument for sententialism The argument for the blindness of introspection thesis Objections and replies Conclusion. (shrink)
This paper examines pain states (and other intransitive bodily sensations) from the perspective of the problems they pose for pure informational/representational approaches to naturalizing qualia. I start with a comprehensive critical and quasi-historical discussion of so-called Perceptual Theories of Pain (e.g., Armstrong, Pitcher), as these were the natural predecessors of the more modern direct realist views. I describe the theoretical backdrop (indirect realism, sense-data theories) against which the perceptual theories were developed. The conclusion drawn is that pure representationalism about pain (...) in the tradition of direct realist perceptual theories (e.g., Dretske, Tye) leaves out something crucial about the phenomenology of pain experiences, namely, their affective character. I touch upon the role that introspection plays in such representationalist views, and indicate how it contributes to the source of their trouble vis-à-vis bodily sensations. The paper ends by briefly commenting on the relation between the affective/evaluative component of pain and the hedonic valence of emotions. (shrink)
The topic of introspection stands at the interface between questions in epistemology about the nature of self-knowledge and questions in the philosophy of mind about the nature of consciousness. What is the nature of introspection such that it provides us with a distinctive way of knowing about our own conscious mental states? And what is the nature of consciousness such that we can know about our own conscious mental states by introspection? How should we understand the relationship (...) between consciousness and introspective self-knowledge? Should we explain consciousness in terms of introspective self-knowledge or vice versa? Until recently, questions in epistemology and the philosophy of mind were pursued largely in isolation from one another. This volume aims to integrate these two lines of research by bringing together fourteen new essays and one reprinted essay on the relationship between introspection, self-knowledge, and consciousness. (shrink)
Standard Kripke models are inadequate to model situations of inexact knowledge with introspection, since positive and negative introspection force the relation of epistemic indiscernibility to be transitive and euclidean. Correlatively, Williamson’s margin for error semantics for inexact knowledge invalidates axioms 4 and 5. We present a new semantics for modal logic which is shown to be complete for K45, without constraining the accessibility relation to be transitive or euclidean. The semantics corresponds to a system of modular knowledge, in (...) which iterated modalities and simple modalities are not on a par. We show how the semantics helps to solve Williamson’s luminosity paradox, and argue that it corresponds to an integrated model of perceptual and introspective knowledge that is psychologically more plausible than the one defended by Williamson. We formulate a generalized version of the semantics, called token semantics, in which modalities are iteration-sensitive up to degree n and insensitive beyond n. The multi-agent version of the semantics yields a resource-sensitive logic with implications for the representation of common knowledge in situations of bounded rationality. (shrink)
Subliminal perception (SP) is today considered a well-supported theory stating that perception can occur without conscious awareness and have a significant impact on later behaviour and thought. In this article, we first present and discuss different approaches to the study of SP. In doing this, we claim that most approaches are based on a dichotomic measure of awareness. Drawing upon recent advances and discussions in the study of introspection and phenomenological psychology, we argue for both the possibility and necessity (...) of using an elaborated measure of subjective states. In the second part of the article, we present findings where these considerations are implemented in an empirical study. The results and implications are discussed in detail, both with reference to SP, and in relation to the more general problem of using elaborate introspective reports as data in relation to studies of cognition. (shrink)
Nietzsche believes that we do not know our own actions (D 116), nor their real motives (D 129). This belief, however, is but a consequence of his assuming a quite general skepticism about introspection. The main aim of this paper is to offer a reading of this last view, which I shall call the Inner Opacity view (IO). In the first part of the paper I shall show that a strong motivation behind (IO) lies in Nietzsche’s claim that self-knowledge (...) exploits the same set of cognitive capacities as well as the same folk-psychological framework involved in outward-directed mind-reading. In the second part I shall turn to Nietzsche’s view of agency and argue that he sees a fundamental discrepancy between the conscious attitudes we have introspective access to, on the one hand, and the sub-personal processes and states occurring at the unconscious level of the drives, on the other hand. (shrink)
In this paper I present a more refined analysis of the principles of deductive closure and positive introspection. This analysis uses the expressive resources of logics for different types of group knowledge, and discriminates between aspects of closure and computation that are often conflated. The resulting model also yields a more fine-grained distinction between implicit and explicit knowledge, and places Hintikka’s original argument for positive introspection in a new perspective.
Sydney Shoemaker argues that introspection, unlike perception, provides no identification information about the self, and that knowledge of one''s mental states should be conceived as arising in a direct and unmediated fashion from one''s being in those states. I argue that while one does not identify aself as the subject of one''s states, one does frequently identify and misidentify thestates, in ways analogous to the identification of objects in perception, and that in discourse about one''s mental states the self (...) plays the role of external reality in discourse about physical objects. Discourse about any sort of entity or property can be viewed as involving a domain or frame of reference which constrains what can be said about the entities; this view is related to Johnson-Laird''s theory of mental models. On my approach evidence, including sensory evidence, may be involved in decisions about one''s mental states. I conclude that while Shoemaker may well be right about different roles for sense impressions in introspection and perception, the exact differences and their significance remain to be established. (shrink)
Consider the following argument: when a phenomenon P is observable, any legitimate understanding of P must take account of observations of P; some mental phenomena—certain conscious experiences—are introspectively observable; so, any legitimate understanding of the mind must take account of introspective observations of conscious experiences. This paper offers a (preliminary and partial) defense of this line of thought. Much of the paper focuses on a specific challenge to it, which I call Schwitzgebel’s Challenge: the claim that introspection is so (...) untrustworthy that its indispensability for a genuine understanding of the mind only shows that no genuine understanding of the mind is possible. (shrink)
Traditionally conceived, introspection is a form of nonsensuous perception that allows the mind to scrutinize at least some of its own states while it is experiencing them. The traditional account of introspection has been in disrepute ever since Ryle argued that the very idea of introspection is a logical muddle. Recent critics such as William Lyons, John Searle, and Sydney Shoemaker argue that this disrepute is well-deserved. Three distinct objections to the traditional account of introspection are (...) considered and rejected. It is argued that critics of the traditional account of introspection fail to adequately distinguish potential objects of introspection. Further, it is argued that at least two cognitive states are properly understood as objects of introspection. The conclusions reached suggest that there are sufficient reasons to reconsider ther merits of the traditional account of introspection. (shrink)
Understanding the nature of pain depends, at least partly, on recognizing its subjectivity (thus, its first-person epistemology). This in turn requires using a first-person experiential method in addition to third-person experimental approaches to study it. This paper is an attempt to spell out what the former approach is and how it can be integrated with the latter. We start our discussion by examining some foundational issues raised by the use of introspection. We argue that such a first-person method in (...) the scientific study of pain (as in the study of any experience) is in fact indispensable by demonstrating that it has in fact been consistently used in conjunction with conventional third-person methodologies, and this for good reasons. We show that, contrary to what appears to be a widespread opinion, there is absolutely no reason to think that the use of such a first-person approach is scientifically and methodologically suspect. We distinguish between two uses of introspective methods in scientific experiments: one draws on the subjects’ introspective reports where any investigator has equal and objective access. The other is where the investigator becomes a subject of his own study and draws on the introspection of his own experiences. We give examples using and/or approximating both strategies that include studies of second pain summation and its relationship to neural activities, and brain imaging- psychophysical studies wherein sensory and affective qualities of pain are correlated with cerebral cortical activity. We explain what we call the experiential or phenomenological approach that has its origins in the work of Price and Barrell (1980). This approach capitalizes on the scientific prospects and benefits of using the introspection of the investigator. We distinguish between its vertical and horizontal applications. Finally, we conclude that integrating such an approach to standard third-person methodologies can only help us in having a fuller understanding of pain and of conscious experience in general. (shrink)
This article analyzes Wittgenstein’s position on the grammatical incorrigibility of psychological self-ascriptions and shows how introspective statements can be of use to philosophers. In Wittgenstein On Rules and Private Language, Kripke notes Wittgenstein’s puzzling ambivalence toward introspection. On the one hand Wittgenstein repudiates introspection and on the other he uses it in his own philosophical investigations. To resolve the paradox, this paper distinguishes between introspective methodology in psychological and philosophical investigations. Wittgenstein’s arguments against introspection are specifically directed (...) at introspective methodology in psychology. He argues that the use of introspection to discover “inner causes” commits one to a conception of “direct inner awareness”. On that conception, psychological self-ascriptions are considered highly reliable due to the superiority of the subjective vantage point in ascertaining one’s own mental contents. As an alternative, Wittgenstein maintains that this reliability stems from the grammar of the ascription. The paper places Wittgenstein’s alternative conception of incorrigibility into the context of his argument against the use of introspection in psychology. (shrink)
Since locke, introspection has been generally defined as a form of observation. this is true, for example, of the classical tradition in psychology exemplified by wundt and titchener. recent experimental work by cognitive psychologists continues to treat introspection as a mode of observation while denying its alleged success in identifying cognitive processes. besides psychologists, philosophers such as james, ryle, and quinton are discussed, and they, too, define introspection as a type of observation analogous to perception. the present (...) article calls attention to other concepts of introspection that are important but that have figured less prominently in the history of philosophy and psychology. it is agreed here that, so far as the goals of self-knowledge and self-control are concerned, a concept of introspection other than that of observation is the significant one. explicating the nature of this alternative concept of introspection and its relevance for self-knowledge is the major aim of the article. (shrink)
Povinelli’s Problem is a well-known methodological problem confronting those researching nonhuman primate cognition. In this paper I add a new wrinkle to this problem. The wrinkle concerns introspection, i.e., the ability to detect one’s own mental states. I argue that introspection either creates a new obstacle to solving Povinelli’s Problem, or creates a slightly different, but closely related, problem. I apply these arguments to Robert Lurz and Carla Krachun’s (Review of Philosophy and Psychology 2: 449–481, 2011) recent attempt (...) at solving Povinelli’s Problem. (shrink)
We show that if an agent reasons according to standard inference rules, the truth and introspection axioms extend from the set of non-epistemic propositions to the whole set of propositions. This implies that the usual axiomatization of partitional possibility correspondences is redundant, and provides a justification for truth and introspection that is partly based on reasoning.
While John B. Watson articulated the intellectual commitments of behaviorism with clarity and force, wove them into a coherent perspective, gave the perspective a name, and made it a cause, these commitments had adherents before him. To document the origins of behaviorism, this series collects the articles that set the terms of the behaviorist debate, includes the most important pre-Watsonian contributions to objectivism, and reprints the first full text of the new behaviorism. Contents: Functionalism, the Critque of Introspection, and (...) the Nature and Evolution of Consciousness: Theoretical Roots of Early Behaviourism: An Anthology [1842-1914] Robert H. Wozniak (Ed) 360 pp Studies of Animal and Infant Behaviour. the Experimental and Comparative Roots of Early Behaviourism: An Anthology [1840-1911] Robert H. Wozniak (Ed) 412 pp An Introuduction to Comparative Psychology [1894 edition] Conway Lloyd Morgan 628 pp Comparative Physiology of the Brain and Comparative Psychology  Jacques Loeb 342 pp Fundamental Laws of Human Behaviour. Lectures on the foundtions of Any Mental or Social Science  Max F. Meyer 264 pp Behaviour. An Introduction to Comparative Psychology [1914 edition] John B. Watson 482 pp. (shrink)
It is argued that the work of Husserl offers a model for self-knowledge that avoids the disadvantages of standard introspectionist accounts and of a Sellarsian view of the relation between our perceptual judgements and derived judgements about appearances. Self-knowledge is based on externally directed knowledge of the world that is then subjected to a cognitive transformation analogous to the move from a statement to the activity of stating. Appearance talk is (contra Sellars) not an epistemically non-committal form of speech, but (...) talk to which we are fully committed. However, it is a commitment to a certain kind of claim about our experiences, viewed as cognitive phenomena, after a process of transformation. Such reductive and hypostatizing transformations can exhibit the intentional structure of consciousness. Phenomenology thus gives a form of knowledge about our mental states that is first personal but not introspective knowledge in any philosophically problematic sense. The account offered is also, in key respects, dissimilar to Sellars's outer directed view of the origin of self-knowledge. (shrink)
In this paper I develop the idea that, by answering the question whether p, you can answer the question whether you believe that p. In particular, I argue that judging that p is a fallible yet basic guide to whether one believes that p. I go on to defend my view from an important skeptical challenge, according to which my view would make it too easy to reject skeptical hypotheses about our access to our minds. I close by responding to (...) the opposing view on which our beliefs themselves constitute our only source of first-person access to our beliefs. (shrink)
We are prone to gross error, even in favorable circumstances of extended reflection, about our own ongoing conscious experience, our current phenomenology. Even in this apparently privileged domain, our self-knowledge is faulty and untrustworthy. Examples highlighted in this paper include: emotional experience, peripheral vision, and the phenomenology of thought. Philosophical foundationalism supposing that we infer an external world from secure knowledge of our own consciousness is almost exactly backward.
We assume that we can act—in at least some cases—by consciously intending to do so. Wegner (2002) appeals to empirical research carried out by Libet et al. (1983) to challenge this assumption. I argue that his conclusion presupposes a particular view of conscious intention. But there is an alternative model available, which has been developed by various writers in the phenomenological tradition, and most recently defended by Moran (2001). If we adopt this alternative account of conscious intention, Wegner’s argument no (...) longer goes through, and we can retain the claim that our conscious intentions can give rise to action. (shrink)