The empirical case against introspection

Philosophical Studies 173 (9):2461-2485 (2016)
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Abstract

This paper assesses five main empirical scientific arguments against the reliability of belief formation on the basis of introspecting phenomenal states. After defining ‘reliability’ and ‘introspection’, I discuss five arguments to the effect that phenomenal states are more elusive than we usually think: the argument on the basis of differences in introspective reports from differences in introspective measurements; the argument from differences in reports about whether or not dreams come in colours; the argument from the absence of a correlation between visual imagery ability and the performance on certain cognitive tasks; the argument from our unawareness of our capacity of echolocation; the argument from inattentional blindness and change blindness. I argue that the experiments on which these arguments are based do not concern belief formation on the basis of introspection in the first place or fail to show that it is unreliable, even when limited to introspection of phenomenal states.

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Rik Peels
VU University Amsterdam

Citations of this work

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Introspection and Belief: Failures of Introspective Belief Formation.Chiara Caporuscio - 2023 - Review of Philosophy and Psychology (1):165-184.
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References found in this work

Action in Perception.Alva Noë - 2004 - MIT Press.
The content and epistemology of phenomenal belief.David Chalmers - 2002 - In Aleksandar Jokic & Quentin Smith (eds.), Consciousness: New Philosophical Perspectives. New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 220--72.
Content and consciousness.Daniel Clement Dennett - 1969 - New York,: Humanities P..
Content and Consciousness.Daniel C. Dennett - 1968 - New York: Routledge.
Consciousness Explained.William G. Lycan - 1993 - Philosophical Review 102 (3):424.

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