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  • Print publication year: 2005
  • Online publication date: June 2012

3 - The Introspectibility of Brain States as Such


Paul Churchland has defended various bold theses throughout his career. Of particular interest to the current chapter is what I shall call Churchland's Introspection Thesis.

A person with sufficient neuroscientific education can introspect his or her brain states as brain states.

Is the Introspection Thesis true? It certainly isn't obvious. Introspection is the faculty by which each of us has access to his or her own mental states. Even if we were to suppose that mental states are identical to brain states, it doesn't follow immediately from this supposition that we can introspect our mental states as brain states. This point is analogous to the following. It doesn't follow immediately from the mere fact that some distant object is identical to a horse that we can perceive it as a horse. Further, it isn't obvious that any amount of education would suffice to make some distant speck on the horizon seem like a horse. It may very well be the case that no matter how well we know that some distant speck is a horse; as long as we are sufficiently distant from it we will only be able to see it as a speck. Analogously then, it may very well be the case that no matter how well we know that our mental states are brain states, we will only be able to introspect them as irreducibly mental.

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