Viewed from a certain perspective, nothing can seem more secure than introspection. Consider an ordinary conscious episode—say, your current visual experience of the colour of this page. You can judge, when reflecting on this experience, that you have a visual experience as of something white with black marks before you. Does it seem reasonable to doubt this introspective judgement? Surely not—such doubt would seem utterly fanciful. The trustworthiness of introspection is not only assumed by commonsense, it is also taken for (...) granted by many of theorists about the mind. Within both philosophy and the science of consciousness it is widely held that introspection is generally reliable, at least with respect to the question of one’s current (or immediately prior) conscious states. Without this assumption, we could not make sense of theorists’ widespread use of introspection, both in support of their own position and to undermine that of their opponents. (shrink)
This chapter discusses the main types of so-called ’subjective measures of consciousness’ used in current-day science of consciousness. After explaining the key worry about such measures, namely the problem of an ever-present response bias, I discuss the question of whether subjective measures of consciousness are introspective. I show that there is no clear answer to this question, as proponents of subjective measures do not employ a worked-out notion of subjective access. In turn, this makes the problem of response bias less (...) tractable than it might otherwise be. (shrink)
Kammerer and Frankish (this issue) put forward a map of a space of possible forms of introspection with the aim that (among other things) it can be used as a theoretical tool or framework to systematically compare and contrast different accounts of introspection. Using the distinction between phenomena (real-world systems), models, and modelling frameworks, I question whether such a map in the ambitious form proposed is feasible.
In Describing Inner Experience, Hurlburt and Schwitzgebel explore the proper limits of scepticism about consciousness and the prospect of a scientific investigation of consciousness. Their debate with each other focuses on the question about whether we can trust people's reports about their inner experiences and on Hurlburt's introspective method, DES. I point out that their discussion leaves unclear the crucial question of the aims and objectives of DES. This makes it difficult genuinely to assess DES's merits and the problems for (...) theorizing that might be created by inaccuracy in the introspective data. I then provide a taxonomy of different introspective methods, depending on different roles played by introspective data and on the kinds of questions that are being asked. I suggest that introspective methods tasked to answer a certain group of questions -- certain philosophical questions about experience -- are more vulnerable to the possibility of introspective error than others. (shrink)
This paper offers a new argument in favour of experiential pluralism about visual experience – the view that the nature of successful visual experience is different from the nature of unsuccessful visual experience. The argument appeals to the role of experience in explaining possession of ordinary abilities. In addition, the paper makes a methodological point about philosophical debates concerning the nature of perceptual experience: whether a given view about the nature of experience amounts to an interesting and substantive thesis about (...) our own minds depends on the significance of the psychological or mental kind claim made by it. This means that an adequate defence of a given view of the nature of experience must include articulation of the latter's significance qua psychological or mental kind. The argument advanced provides the material to meet this demand. In turn, this constitutes further support for the argument itself. (shrink)
In this paper I critically examine uses of introspection in present-day philosophy of perception. First, I introduce a distinction between two different meanings of the term ‘introspection’: introspective access and introspective method. I show that they are both at work in the philosophy of perception but not adequately distinguished. I then lay out some concerns about the use of introspection to collect data about consciousness that were raised in over a hundred years ago, by some early experimentalist psychologists, part of (...) so-called ‘Introspectionist Psychology’. As I argue, these concerns apply to current philosophical uses of introspection but they are not acknowledged, much less addressed. I explain this by applying the distinction between introspective access and introspective method. As a result, extant arguments relying on introspection-based phenomenal descriptions are methodologically problematic. These problems do not call into question the use of introspection in theorising altogether. But we need to take more care in how we use it. (shrink)
Block's argument against correlationism depends in part on a view about what subjects in certain experiments can be aware of phenomenally. Block's main source of evidence for this view is introspection. I argue that introspection should not be trusted in this respect. This weakens Block's argument and undermines correlationism at the same time.