Research topics  

1 - Epistemology of extrospection

PI: Professor Dr. Michael Pauen

Contact: michael.pauen-please remove this


As there are no absolute standards for epistemic merits, the epistemic disadvantage of extro-spection, i.e. third person access to a person’s higher cognitive states, is typically argued for by comparison with introspection or – to a lesser extent – with third-person methods in natural science, most typically physics. E.g. introspection is said to be superior to extrospection because it provides direct first-person access to its objects. Extrospection, by contrast, seems to have lim-ited access only to certain higher cognitive states, particularly to the notorious qualia.

The present project is supposed to make a comparative assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of extrospection, introspection, and, to a minor extent, third-person science.

Possible approaches include:

(1) A comprehensive discussion of the epistemic merits and limitations of extrospec-tion. Possible issues are the alleged “indirectness” of extrospection or the question whether transferring first-person data like verbal reports into objective models leads to a loss of information, validity and reliability.

(2) A comparison of epistemic limitations of extrospection with similar problems of intro-spection and third-person science. One possible question will be whether introspective and third-person scientific knowledge is direct in the sense that extrospection is not. It can also be asked whether it might be complexity rather than the basic epistemic insufficiencies of extrospection that accounts for the problems concerning the description and explanation of higher cognitive phenomena from a third-person point of view.

Requirements for research topic 1

(1) The desire to engage with and contribute to international scientific literature,
(2) The ability to engage with relevant philosophical, psychological and neuroscientific literature,
(3) Familiarity with contemporary literature in philosophy of mind, epistemology and relevant research in neuroscience and psychology
(4) Willingness and aptitude for interdisciplinary interaction and collaboration,
(5) Willingness to fully participate in the research, education and training program of the RTG,
(6) Proficiency in English,
(7) Master's degree in a relevant field.

Applications for research topic 1

(1) A proposal for a doctoral project within research topic 1: " Epistemology of extrospection" (max. 5 pages in Arial 11, single spaced, plus max. 3 pages references),
(2) A meaningful letter of motivation (max 2 pages),
(3) Full academic CV,
(4) Copies/scans of Bachelor's and Master's certificates,
(5) Transcript of records for Master's degree.

Please send the above in one PDF file of no more than 7 MB.

Please name the file as follows: YourName_RTG_Topic1


Two letters of reference should be sent directly to: Ms Annette Winkelmann, mb-extrospection-please remove this

Guidelines for referees for Topic 1 - please send them to your referees: download pdf

Application period and deadline

From Friday, 15 June 2018 until Friday, 13 July 2018 11:59:59 a.m. CEST



This page last updated on: 21 June 2018