Dialogues in Philosophy
Mental and Neuro Sciences

Dialogues in Philosophy, Mental and Neuro Sciences

The official journal of Crossing Dialogues
Volume 16, Issue 1 (June 2023)


The paradox of phenomenal judgement and the case against illusionism

Hane Htut Maung

Illusionism is the view that conscious experience is some sort of introspective illusion. According to illusionism, there is no conscious experience, but it merely seems like there is conscious experience. This would suggest that much phenomenological enquiry, including work on phenomenological psychopathology, rests on a mistake. Some philosophers have argued that illusionism is obviously false, because seeming is itself an experiential state, and so
necessarily presupposes the reality of conscious experience. In response, the illusionist could suggest that the relevant sort of seeming here is not an experiential state, but is a cognitive state, such as a judgement or a belief, which is fully amenable to a physical or functionalist analysis. Herein, I argue that this response is unsuccessful and fails to undermine the reality of conscious experience. Nonetheless, the response does raise the problem of how a judgement or belief about the character of a conscious experience, even if it is true, can be justified if the conscious experience has no causal role in the formation of the judgement or belief. This is not a new problem, but is a reiteration of an old problem that is known in the philosophy of mind literature as the paradox of phenomenal judgement. I consider how the paradox of phenomenal judgement can be resolved and how the judgement or belief about conscious experience can be justified
with appeal to the notion of acquaintance.  


illusionism, consciousness, phenomenal judgement, acquaintance, philosophy of mind

Dial Phil Ment Neuro Sci 2023; 16(1): 1-13

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Received on June 08, 2023
Accepted on July 07, 2023
Firstly published online on February 14, 2024