A hesitant defense of introspection
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Consider the following argument: when a phenomenon P is observable, any legitimate understanding of P must take account of observations of P; some mental phenomena—certain conscious experiences—are introspectively observable; so, any legitimate understanding of the mind must take account of introspective observations of conscious experiences. This paper offers a (preliminary and partial) defense of this line of thought. Much of the paper focuses on a specific challenge to it, which I call Schwitzgebel’s Challenge: the claim that introspection is so untrustworthy that its indispensability for a genuine understanding of the mind only shows that no genuine understanding of the mind is possible.
KeywordsIntrospection Phenomenology Cognitive science Context of discovery Context of justification
For comments on a previous draft, I would like to thank Eric Schwitzgebel. This paper has benefited from fruitful exchanges with Will Leonard, Rachel Schneebaum, Eric Schwitzgebel, Charles Siewert, and probably many others. It has also benefited from a presentation at the 2012 Pacific APA meeting. I would like to thank the audience there, in particular Jay Garfield and Brie Gertler.
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