Phenomenology and psychophysics

Steven Horst

pp. 1-21

Recent philosophy of mind has tended to treat "inner" states, including both qualia and intentional states, as "theoretical posits" of either folk or scientific psychology. This article argues that phenomenology in fact plays a very different role in the most mature part of psychology, psychophysics. Methodologically, phenomenology plays a crucial role in obtaining psychophysical results. And more importantly, many psychophysical data are best interpreted as reporting relations between stimuli and phenomenological states, both qualitative and intentional. Three examples are used to argue for this thesis: the Weber–Fechner laws, the Craik-O'Brien–Cornsweet effect, and subjective contour figures. The phenomenological properties that play a role here do so in the role of data that ultimately constrain theoretical work (in this case theory of vision), and not as theoretical posits.

Publication details

DOI: 10.1007/s11097-005-5852-6

Full citation:

Horst, S. (2005). Phenomenology and psychophysics. Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 4 (1), pp. 1-21.

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