Distracted drivers and unattended experience

Synthese 144 (1):41-68 (2005)
Consider the much-discussed case of the distracted driver, who is alleged to successfully navigate his car for miles despite being completely oblivious to his visual states. Perhaps he is deeply engrossed in the music playing over the radio or in philosophical reflection, and as a result he goes about unaware of the scene unfolding before him on the road. That the distracted driver has visual experiences of which he is not aware is a possibility that first-order representationalists happily accept, but higher-order representationalists steadfastly deny. HOR claims that perceptual states become conscious only as the object of higher-order states; perceptual states are not intrinsically conscious. According to HOR, since the driver is supposed to be completely distracted by other cognitive tasks, he cannot form higher-order representations of his visual states, with the result that those states are disqualified as experiences.1 HOR theories have come in two flavors, those that claim that the relevant higher-order representations are thought-like and those that that rely on an inner perception-like mechanism that is directed toward one
Keywords Attention  Consciousness  Drive  Experience  Metaphysics  Perception  Representationalism
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