Brentyn Ramm
Independent Philosopher
While first-person methods are essential for a science of consciousness, it is controversial what form these methods should take and whether any such methods are reliable. I propose that first-person experiments are a reliable method for investigating conscious experience. I outline the history of these methods and describe their characteristics. In particular, a first-person experiment is an intervention on a subject's experience in which independent variables are manipulated, extraneous variables are held fixed, and in which the subject makes a phenomenal judgement about the target experience of the investigation. I examine historical and contemporary examples of first-person experiments: Mariotte’s demonstration of the visual blind spot, Kanizsa’s subjective contours, the Tse Illusion, and investigations of the non-uniform resolution of the visual field. I discuss the role that phenomenal contrast plays in these methods, and how they overcome typical introspective errors. I argue that their intersubjective repeatability is an important factor in their scientific status, however, it is not the only factor. That they control for extraneous factors and confounds is another factor which sets them apart from pseudoscience (e.g., the perception of auras), and hence another reason for classifying them as genuine experiments. Furthermore, by systematically mapping out the structure of visual experience, these methods make scientific progress. Praises of such first-person experimental approaches may not always be sung by philosophers and psychologists, but they continue to flourish as respectable scientific methods nevertheless.
Keywords First-Person Methods  Gestalt Psychology  Experimental Phenomenology  Experiments  Illusion  Introspection  Introspective Psychology  Scientific Methodology  Phenomenal Contrast
Categories (categorize this paper)
Reprint years 2018
DOI 10.1007/s13164-018-0388-1
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

 PhilArchive page | Other versions
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

The Contents of Visual Experience.Susannah Siegel - 2010 - Oxford University Press USA.
Facing Up to the Problem of Consciousness.David J. Chalmers - 1995 - Journal of Consciousness Studies 2 (3):200-19.
The Significance of Consciousness.Charles Siewert - 1998 - Princeton University Press.

View all 82 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Pure Awareness Experience.Brentyn J. Ramm - forthcoming - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy:1-23.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

First-Person Investigations of Consciousness.Brentyn Ramm - 2016 - Dissertation, The Australian National University
Self-Experience.Brentyn Ramm - 2017 - Journal of Consciousness Studies 24 (11-12):142-166.
First-Person Experiments.Carl Ginsburg - 2005 - Journal of Consciousness Studies 12 (2):22-42.
Discrimination: A Challenge to First‐Person Authority?Eugen Fischer - 2001 - Philosophical Investigations 24 (4):330-346.
An Integration of First-Person Methodologies in Cognitive Science.Overgaard Morten - 2008 - Journal of Consciousness Studies 15 (5):100-120.
The Descriptive Experience Sampling Method.Russell T. Hurlburt & Sarah A. Akhter - 2006 - Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 5 (3-4):271-301.


Added to PP index

Total views
359 ( #19,183 of 2,340,252 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
39 ( #16,660 of 2,340,252 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes