Naive Introspection in the Philosophy of Perception

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Abstract

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.
Original languageEnglish
JournalReview of Philosophy and Psychology
Early online date22 Dec 2021
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 22 Dec 2021

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