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Introspecting representations

by Radovic, Susanna, PhD

Abstract (Summary)
The subject matter of this thesis is the question of whether a plausible and informative account of introspection can be advanced given that mental states are representations of external affairs. The first part of the thesis presents a general overview of theories of introspection by describing how philosophers have accounted for, in turn; the object of introspection, the epistemic status of introspective beliefs, and the introspective process as such. In the second part some contemporary representationalist theories of introspection are discussed. Some of these theories maintain that introspection is a special kind of higher order awareness of the subject?s perceptual states (HO-theories), while others claim that introspective awareness is nothing but a subject?s awareness of the representational content of her perceptions (OL-theories). It is argued that neither of these theories can give a tenable account of introspective awareness. The HO theories are not able to give a plausible account of how a subject by attending to her perceptual states can become aware of the representational content of these states, given that this content is taken to be wide. The OL theories on the other hand, accept this fact and instead describe introspective awareness as mere awareness that one is in a perceptual state, unmediated by any awareness the subject may have of these states themselves. These theories encounter some other problems, such as that they are unable to explain how introspective beliefs are justified and that the scope of introspective awareness becomes extremely limited. My conclusion is that neither of these theories are satisfactory, but that some versions of the OL theory have better prospects than the HO theories in general have.
Bibliographical Information:

Advisor:

School:Göteborgs universitet

School Location:Sweden

Source Type:Doctoral Dissertation

Keywords:HUMANITIES and RELIGION; History and philosophy subjects; Philosophy subjects; Theoretical philosophy; displaced perception; first person authority; higher order perception; higher order thought; introspection; phenomenal character; phenomenal externalism; representational content; qualia

ISBN:91-7346-534-8

Date of Publication:01/01/2005

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