Developing Dark Pessimism Towards the Justificatory Role of Introspective Reports

Erkenntnis 86 (6):1319-1344 (2019)
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This paper argues for a position of ‘dark pessimism’ towards introspective reports playing a strong justificatory role in consciousness science, based on the application of frameworks and concepts of measurement. I first show that treating introspective reports as measurements fits well within current discussions of the reliability of introspection, and argue that introspective reports must satisfy at least a minimal definition of measurement in order to play a justificatory role in consciousness science. I then show how treating introspective reports as measurements makes it possible to identify the foundational methodological problems that underlie much of the current philosophical and scientific debate about the status of introspective evidence in studying consciousness. I argue that these problems prevent introspective reports from playing a strong justificatory role and resolving long-standing debates in consciousness science, both in contemporary work and in the future.



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Elizabeth Irvine
Cardiff University