The Value of Subjectivity
Creph Research Project 2022-23
Visiting Scholars: Uriah Kriegel, Charles Siewert (Rice University, Houston)
What is the value of subjectivity? The purpose of this project is to explore various ways of understanding and answering this question.
Although there is no agreement in the philosophical literature about what it means to be a subject of experience, recurrent features
typically include (i) having a situated perspective on the world and (ii) being able to produce introspective reports on one's own
experiences. Interestingly, these features are usually considered at odds with scientific objectivity. We have been encouraged to
replace subjective perspectives with 'more objective' ones and to regard introspective reports as naïve, superficial, or even illusory.
This last, most radical option may be called the illusionist hypothesis. The project aims to challenge these attitudes by reexamining the
role of subjectivity in various aspects of human life, ranging from self-knowledge to moral conduct, aesthetic experience and the pursuit
of happiness. A particularly strong hypothesis is that our capacity to live in a world endowed with epistemic, moral or aesthetic value
is grounded in our capacity to have subjective experiences. Call this the grounding hypothesis. The purpose of this project is to critically
discuss these two hypotheses — the illusionist hypothesis and the grounding hypothesis — and to explore intermediate options that lie between
these two ends of the spectrum.
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