Non‐human consciousness and the specificity problem: A modest theoretical proposal

Mind and Language 36 (2):297-314 (2021)
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Abstract

Most scientific theories of consciousness are challenging to apply outside the human case insofar as non‐human systems (both biological and artificial) are unlikely to implement human architecture precisely, an issue I call the specificity problem. After providing some background on the theories of consciousness debate, I survey the prospects of four approaches to this problem. I then consider a fifth solution, namely the theory‐light approach proposed by Jonathan Birch. I defend a modified version of this that I term the modest theoretical approach, arguing that it may provide insights into challenging cases that would otherwise be intractable.

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Henry Shevlin
Cambridge University

References found in this work

What is it like to be a bat?Thomas Nagel - 1974 - Philosophical Review 83 (October):435-50.
Minds, brains, and programs.John Searle - 1980 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 3 (3):417-57.
On a confusion about a function of consciousness.Ned Block - 1995 - Brain and Behavioral Sciences 18 (2):227-–247.
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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