A philosophical critique of heterophenomenology

Journal of Consciousness Studies 15 (8):5-34 (2008)
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Abstract

In this paper Dennett's method of heterophenomenology is discussed. After a brief explanation of the method, three arguments in support of it are considered in turn. First, the argument from the possibility of error and self-delusion of the subject is found to ignore the panoply of intermediate position that one can take with regard to the epistemic status of first-personal knowledge. The argument is also criticized for employing an epistemic double-standard. Second, the argument from the neutrality of heterophenomenology is found to be defeated by the fact that, contrary to Dennett's claims, third-person, functionalist and instrumentalist assumptions substantially underpin and inform the method. Similarities between heterophenomenology and the Turing Test are furthermore explored, and it is shown that a weaker version of the neutrality claim also fails. Third, the argument from the appeal to the standard practice of science is shown to substantially rest on an equivocation on the term 'heterophenomenology' and is therefore rejected. Finally, it is suggested that the use of introspective reports is not inherently at odds with sound scientific procedures.

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