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Abstract: Doctors must now take a fifth vital sign from their patients: pain reports. I use this as a case study to discuss how different schools of psychology (introspectionism, behaviorism, cognitive psychology) have treated verbal reports about the contents of consciousness. After examining these differences, I suggest that, with new methods of mapping data about neurobiological states with behavioral data and with verbal reports about conscious experience, we should reconsider some of the introspectionists' goals and methods. I discuss examples from cognitive psychology, including pain researchers' attempts to develop self-reports of pain so that they can be, like other vital signs, reliable indicators of internal states.
Abstract: Introspective reports are used as sources of information about other minds, in both everyday life and science. Many scientists and philosophers consider this practice unjustified, while others have made the untestable assumption that introspection is a truthful method of private observation. I argue that neither skepticism nor faith concerning introspective reports are warranted. As an alternative, I consider our everyday, commonsensical reliance on each other’s introspective reports. When we hear people talk about their minds, we neither refuse to learn from nor blindly accept what they say. Sometimes we accept what we are told, other times we reject it, and still other times we take the report, revise it in light of what we believe, then accept the modified version. Whatever we do, we have (implicit) reasons for it. In developing a sound methodology for the scientific use of introspective reports, we can take our commonsense treatment of introspective reports and make it more explicit and rigorous. We can discover what to infer from introspective reports in a way similar to how we do it every day, but with extra knowledge, methodological care, and precision. Sorting out the use of introspective reports as sources of data is going to be a painstaking, piecemeal task, but it promises to enhance our science of the mind and brain.
Abstract: Heterophenomenology is a third-person methodology proposed by Daniel Dennett for using first-person reports as scientific evidence. I argue that heterophenomenology can be improved by making six changes: (i) setting aside consciousness, (ii) including other sources of first-person data besides first-person reports, (iii) abandoning agnosticism as to the truth value of the reports in favor of the most plausible assumptions we can make about what can be learned from the data, (iv) interpreting first-person reports (and other first-person behaviors) directly in terms of target mental states rather than in terms of beliefs about them, (v) dropping any residual commitment to incorrigibility of first-person reports, and (vi) recognizing that thirdperson methodology does have positive effects on scientific practices. When these changes are made, heterophenomenology turns into the self-measurement methodology of firstperson data that I have defended in previous papers.
Abstract: It is fairly common in the modern debates over qualia to find assumptions being made about the views of non-philosophers. It is often assumed that the concept is part of the folk theory of consciousness. In fact, even prominent skeptics about qualia will admit that their views run counter to common sense. I illustrate this by considering the work of Daniel Dennett, focusing on his standard articulation of the debate concerning his heterophenomenological method. While Dennett is often accused of not going far enough (excluding qualia from the catalog of what needs to be explained by a science of consciousness), I argue that he goes too far in accepting that folk psychological utterances should be interpreted in terms of beliefs about qualia. I support this contention by calling on the results of six empirical studies testing Dennett’s theory of the folk theory of consciousness
Abstract: Dennett’s heterophenomenology and the critical phenomenology that I outline may be thought of as competing accounts of a cautious approach to phenomenal description and method. One can be critical or cautious about how well or how reliably a subject can communicate his or her subjective experience in experimental settings, without for a moment doubting their existence or claiming them to be something completely different to how they seem. Given this, Dennett’s heterophenomenology with its accompanying “qualia denial” looks like nothing more than an attempt to shore up his counterintuitive, eliminativist philosophy of mind
Abstract: ABSTRACT. The following is an email interchange that took place between Dan Dennett and myself in the period 14th to 28th June, 2001. The discussion tries to clarify some essential features of the "heterophenomenology" developed in his book Consciousness Explained (1996), and how this differs from a form of "critical phenomenology" implicit in my own book Understanding Consciousness (2000), and developed in my edited Investigating Phenomenal Consciousness: new methodologies and maps (2000). The departure point for the discussion is a paper posted on Dan's website that summarises a related debate between Dan, David Chalmers and Alvin Goldman (Dennett, 2001). To make the discussion easier to follow, the multiple embeddings have been removed (restoring the sequence in which the comments were written). I have also corrected a few typos and grammatical errors. However, the text of the emails remains exactly the same. In Round 1, I suggest that scientific investigations of consciousness are better described as a form of "critical phenomenology" that accepts conscious experiences to be real rather than as a "heterophenomenology" which remains neutral about or denies their existence. Dan replies that I have misunderstood his position - he doesn't deny that conscious experiences exist. Conscious experiences just don't have the first-person phenomenal properties that they are commonly thought to have and, in his view, science remains neutral about the nature of such properties. In Round 2, I agree with Dan that science initially remains neutral about how to understand the nature of conscious experiences. Nevertheless, the phenomenology of consciousness provides the data that scientists are trying to understand. A better understanding of data does not, in general, make the data disappear. I also ask, "if you remove the phenomena from phenomenal consciousness, in what sense is whatever remains "consciousness"? And, if one removes all the phenomenal content from what one takes consciousness to be, doesn't this amount to a denial of the existence of "consciousness" in any ordinary sense of this term? Dan's reply likens beliefs in phenomenal properties to the belief in evil spirits causing disease. He has no doubts that diseases such as whooping cough and tuberculosis are real, but this doesn't require him to believe in evil spirits. And, what's left, once one removes phenomenal properties, is what a zombie and a so-called conscious person have in common: a given set of functional properties that enable them to carry out the tasks we normally think of as conscious. In Round 3, I summarise our similarities and differences. We agree that first-person reports are not incorrigible and that third-person information may throw light on how to interpret them. We also agree that first-person reports are reports of "something", although we disagree about the nature of that something. I suggest that Dan is sceptical about first-person reports rather than heterophenomenologically "neutral" (e.g. when he likens belief in phenomenal properties to belief in evil spirits). While we agree that science is likely to deepen our understanding of consciousness, I repeat that, unlike the replacement of old theories by better theories, a deeper understanding of phenomena does not in general replace the phenomena themselves. Rather than third-person data replacing first-person reports, the former are required to make sense of the latter, making their relationship complementary and mutually irreducible. In fact, there are many cases where science takes the reality of first-person phenomenology seriously, for example in the extensive literature on pain and its alleviation. If this can't be squeezed into an exclusively third-person view of science, then we will just have to adjust our view of science - something that a "critical phenomenology" achieves at little cost. At the time of this editing, Dan has not replied. . Reference. Dennett, D. (2001) The fantasy of first-person science. http://ase.tufts.edu/cogstud/pubpage.htm
Abstract: Following an on-line dialogue with Dennett (Velmans, 2001) this paper examines the similarities and differences between heterophenomenology (HP) and critical phenomenology (CP), two competing accounts of the way that conscious phenomenology should be, and normally is incorporated into psychology and related sciences. Dennett’s heterophenomenology includes subjective reports of conscious experiences, but according to Dennett, first person conscious phenomenena in the form of “qualia” such as hardness, redness, itchiness etc. have no real existence. Consequently, subjective reports about such qualia should be understood as prescientific attempts to make sense of brain functioning that can be entirely understood in third person terms. I trace the history of this position in behaviourism (Watson, Skinner and Ryle) and early forms of physicalism and functionalism (Armstrong), and summarise some of the difficulties of this view. Critical phenomenology also includes a conventional, third person, scientific investigation of brain and behaviour that includes subjects’ reports of what they experience. CP is also cautious about the accuracy or completeness of subjective reports. However, unlike HP, CP does not assume that subjects are necessarily deluded about their experiences or doubt that these experiences can have real qualities that can, in principle, be described. Such experienced qualities cannot be exhaustively reduced to third-person accounts of brain and behaviour. CP is also reflexive, in it assumes experimenters to have first-person experiences that they can describe much as their subjects do. And crucially, experimenter’s third-person reports of others are based, in the first instance, on their own first-person experiences. CP is commonplace in psychological science, and given that it conforms both to scientific practice and common sense, I argue that there is little to recommend HP other than an attempt to shore up a counterintuitive, reductive philosophy of mind