On a confusion about a function of consciousness

Brain and Behavioral Sciences 18 (2):227-–247 (1995)
Consciousness is a mongrel concept: there are a number of very different "consciousnesses." Phenomenal consciousness is experience; the phenomenally conscious aspect of a state is what it is like to be in that state. The mark of access-consciousness, by contrast, is availability for use in reasoning and rationally guiding speech and action. These concepts are often partly or totally conflated, with bad results. This target article uses as an example a form of reasoning about a function of "consciousness" based on the phenomenon of blindsight. Some information about stimuli in the blind field is represented in the brains of blindsight patients, as shown by their correct "guesses," but they cannot harness this information in the service of action, and this is said to show that a function of phenomenal consciousness is somehow to enable information represented in the brain to guide action. But stimuli in the blind field are BOTH access-unconscious and phenomenally unconscious. The fallacy is: an obvious function of the machinery of access-consciousness is illicitly transferred to phenomenal consciousness.
Keywords access   attention   awareness   blindsight   consciousness   function   retrieval
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1017/S0140525X00038188
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
Download options
PhilPapers Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 15,831
External links
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA
John Searle (1983). Intentionality. Oxford University Press.
Thomas Nagel (1974). What is It Like to Be a Bat? Philosophical Review 83 (October):435-50.

View all 106 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA
David Bourget (2015). The Role of Consciousness in Grasping and Understanding. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 91 (1):n/a-n/a.

View all 228 citations / Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

1,178 ( #100 of 1,724,748 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

49 ( #23,444 of 1,724,748 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

Start a new thread
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.