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Intersubjective science

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The study of consciousness in modern science is hampered by deeply ingrained, dualist presuppositions about the nature of consciousness. In particular, conscious experiences are thought to be private and subjective, contrasting with physical phenomena which are public and objective. In the present article, I argue that all observed phenomena are, in a sense, private to a given observer, although there are some events to which there is public access. Phenomena can be objective in the sense of intersubjective, investigators can be objective in the sense of truthful or dispassionate, and procedures can be objective in being well-specified, but observed phenomena cannot be objective in the sense of being observer-free. Phenomena are only repeatable in the sense that they are judged by a community of observers to be tokens of the same type. Stripped of its dualist trappings the empirical method becomes if you carry out these procedures you will observe or experience these results -- which applies as much to a science of consciousness as it does to physics.
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Keywords: Consciousness; dualist; empirical method; intersubjective; objective; private; repeatability; science; subjective

Document Type: Review Article

Affiliations: Department of Psychology, Goldsmiths, University of London, New Cross, London SE14 6NW.

Publication date: 1999-02-01

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