Discrimination: A challenge to first-person authority?

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It is no surprise that empirical psychology refutes, again and again, assumptions of uneducated common sense. But some puzzlement tends to arise when scientific results appear to call into question the very conceptual framework of the mental to which we have become accustomed. This paper shall examine a case in point: Experiments on colour-discrimination have recently been taken to refute an assumption of first-person authority that appears to be constitutive of our ordinary notion of perceptual experience. The paper is to show that those experiments do not refute this assumption, and will suggest that the impression to the contrary is, ultimately, due to two factors: to misleading imagery and, above all, to mistaken translation from the technical idiom of empirical psychology into the plain English we use every day. This is to take the mystery out of what we shall see to constitute a pretty puzzle; it is to remind us just how careful we need to be when drawing conclusions from results of scientific psychology; and it is to bring out the virtues of methods commonly lumped together under the entirely misleading label of ‘ordinary language philosophy’, of methods far more useful than their common caricature would make one think.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)330-46
Number of pages17
JournalPhilosophical Investigations
Volume24 (4)
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2001

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