Consciousness, higher-order content, and the individuation of vehicles

Synthese 134 (3):477-504 (2003)
Abstract
One of the distinctive properties of conscious states is the peculiar self- awareness implicit in them. Two rival accounts of this self-awareness are discussed. According to a Neo-Brentanian account, a mental state M is conscious iff M represents its very own occurrence. According to the Higher-Order Monitoring account, M is merely accompanied by a numerically distinct representation of its occurrence. According to both, then, M is conscious in virtue of figuring in a higher-order content. The disagreement is over the question whether the higher-order content is carried by M itself or by a differ- ent state. While the Neo-Brentanian theory is phenomenologically more attractive, it is often felt to be somewhat mysterious. It is argued (i) that the difference between the Neo- Brentanian and Higher-Order Monitoring theories is smaller and more empirical than may initially seem, and (ii) that the Neo-Brentanian theory can be readily demystified. These considerations make it prima facie preferable to the Higher-Order Monitoring theory.
Keywords Consciousness  Content  Metaphysics  Monitoring  Self-awareness
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    Uriah Kriegel (2005). Naturalizing Subjective Character. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 71 (1):23-57.
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