Peter Carruthers: The case against introspection for attitudes

This talk will argue that there is no such thing as introspective access to judgments and decisions. (By “introspection” here, I just mean access that isn’t interpretative, and hence which is different in kind from our access to the mental states of other people.) I won’t challenge the existence of introspective access to perceptual and imagistic states, nor to emotional feelings and bodily sensations. On the contrary, the model that I present presumes such access. Hence introspection is here divided into two categories: introspection of propositional attitude events, on the one hand, and introspection of broadly perceptual events, on the other. I shall assume that the latter exists while arguing that the former doesn’t. I begin by making some preliminary points and distinctions, and outlining the scope of the argument. I then present and motivate the general model of introspection that predicts a divided result, before reviewing evidence for the conclusion that judgments and decisions aren’t introspectable. Finally, I then reply to a number of objections to the argument, the most important of which is made from the perspective of so-called “dual systems theories” of belief formation and decision making. The upshot is a limited form of eliminativism about introspection, in respect of at least two core categories of propositional attitude.

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