Conceptualizing Consciousness

Philosophical Psychology 34 (5):637-659 (2021)
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One of the most promising theories of consciousness currently available is higher-order thought (“HOT”) theory, according to which consciousness consists in having suitable HOTs regarding one’s mental life. But critiques of HOT theory abound. We explore here three recent objections to the theory, which we argue at bottom founder for the same reason. While many theorists today assume that consciousness is a feature of the actually existing mental states in virtue of which one has experiences, this assumption is in tension with the underlying motivations for HOT theory and arguably false. We urge that these objections, though sophisticated, trade on this questionable conception of consciousness, thereby begging the question against HOT theory. We then explain how HOT theory might instead understand consciousness.


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Author Profiles

Jacob Berger
Lycoming College
Richard Brown
LaGuardia Community College (CUNY)

References found in this work

What is it like to be a bat?Thomas Nagel - 1974 - Philosophical Review 83 (October):435-50.
On a confusion about a function of consciousness.Ned Block - 1995 - Brain and Behavioral Sciences 18 (2):227-–247.
Reference and Consciousness.John Campbell - 2002 - Oxford, GB: Oxford University Press.
Epiphenomenal qualia.Frank Jackson - 1982 - Philosophical Quarterly 32 (April):127-136.
What is it like to be a bat?Thomas Nagel - 1979 - In Mortal questions. New York: Cambridge University Press. pp. 435 - 450.

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