On the Limits of the Method of Phenomenal Contrast

Martina Fürst
University of Graz
The method of phenomenal contrast aims to shed light on the phenomenal character of perceptual and cognitive experiences. Within the debate about cognitive phenomenology, phenomenal contrast arguments can be divided into two kinds. First, arguments based on actual cases that aim to provide the reader with a first-person experience of phenomenal contrast. Second, arguments that involve hypothetical cases and focus on the conceivability of contrast scenarios. Notably, in the light of these contrast cases, proponents and skeptics of cognitive phenomenology remain steadfast in their views. I provide an explanation of the method’s dialectical ineffectiveness by focusing on first-person performances of phenomenal contrast tasks. In particular, I argue that introspective judgments about phenomenology are regimented by the view initially held. Understanding the underlying mechanisms responsible for the dialectical standoff in the face of phenomenal contrast cases casts light on introspection-based arguments for phenomenology in general. https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/journal-of-the-american-philosophical-association/article/on-the-limits-of-the-method-of-phenomenal-contrast/
Keywords cognitive phenomenology  sensory phenomenology  phenomenal contrast
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DOI 10.1017/apa.2017.25
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