Dimensions of Reliability in Phenomenal Judgment

Journal of Consciousness Studies 23 (3-4):101-127 (2016)
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Eric Schwitzgebel (2011) argues that phenomenal judgments are in general less reliable than perceptual judgments. This paper distinguishes two versions of this unreliability thesis. The process unreliability thesis says that unreliability in phenomenal judgments is due to faulty domain-specific mechanisms involved in producing these judgments, whereas the statistical unreliability thesis says that it is simply a matter of higher numbers of errors. Against the process unreliability thesis, I argue that the main errors and limitations in making phenomenal judgments can be accounted for by domain-general factors: attention, working memory limits and conceptualization. As these factors are shared with the production of perceptual judgments, errors in phenomenal judgments are not due to faulty domain-specific processes. Furthermore, this account defends phenomenal judgments against general scepticism by providing criteria for distinguishing between reliable and unreliable phenomenal judgments.

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Brentyn Ramm
Witten/Herdecke University


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