Using First-Person Data About Consciousness

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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.

Document Type: Research Article

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Publication date: January 1, 2011

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