First-Person Data, Publicity and Self-Measurement

Philosophers' Imprint 9:1-16 (2009)
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Abstract

First-person data have been both condemned and hailed because of their alleged privacy. Critics argue that science must be based on public evidence: since first-person data are private, they should be banned from science. Apologists reply that first-person data are necessary for understanding the mind: since first-person data are private, scientists must be allowed to use private evidence. I argue that both views rest on a false premise. In psychology and neuroscience, the subjects issuing first-person reports and other sources of first-person data play the epistemic role of a (self-) measuring instrument. Data from measuring instruments are public and can be validated by public methods. Therefore, first-person data are as public as other scientific data: their use in science is legitimate, in accordance with standard scientific methodology.

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Gualtiero Piccinini
University of Missouri, St. Louis

Citations of this work

Is it possible to measure happiness?: The argument from measurability.Erik Angner - 2013 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 3 (2):221-240.
First-Person Experiments: A Characterisation and Defence.Brentyn J. Ramm - 2018 - Review of Philosophy and Psychology 9:449–467.
Phenomenology of Social Cognition.Shannon Spaulding - 2015 - Erkenntnis 80 (5):1069-1089.
Old Problems with New Measures in the Science of Consciousness.Elizabeth Irvine - 2012 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 63 (3):627-648.
The validity of first-person descriptions as authenticity and coherence.Claire Petitmengin - 2009 - Journal of Consciousness Studies 16 (10-12):10-12.

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