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

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

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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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