Higher-order thoughts and conscious experience

Philosophical Psychology 8 (3):239-254 (1995)
Abstract
For nearly a decade, David Rosenthal has proposed that a mental state M of a creature C is conscious just in case C has a suitable higher-order thought directed toward M. While this theory has had its share of criticism in recent years, I believe that the real difficulties have been ignored. In this essay, I show that the presence of a higher order is insufficient for conscious experience, even if we suppose that the thought satisfies the constraints that Rosenthal lists (i.e. that it is assertoric in nature, that it is had occurently, and that it is non-inferentially formed). The only way Rosenthal's view could possibly yield sufficient conditions is by requiring that the higher-order thought be suitably causally related to its object. Yet, as I also show, the only causal constraint strong enough to do the job is not only ill-motivated but probably false
Keywords Belief  Consciousness  Experience  Psychology  Science  Rosenthal, D
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