About this topic
Summary Higher-order theories of consciousness seek to explain the difference between conscious mental states and unconscious mental states. We have both common sense as well as scientific reasons to think that mental functioning can occur both consciously and unconsciously. Higher-order theories explain this difference in terms of our having some kind of (unconscious) higher-order awareness which makes it the case that I am aware of myself as being in some mental state. The claim that a conscious mental state is one which I am in some suitable way aware of myself as being in is commonly referred to as the Transitivity Principle.
Key works For an overview and comparison of various higher-order approaches see: Rosenthal 2004.  For a collection of important papers by David Rosenthal see: Rosenthal 2005. A recent challenge comes from Ned Block here: Block 2011. See here for Rosenthal's reply: Rosenthal 2011.  For a defense of higher-order perception see: Lycan 2004. Balog 2000 discusses an objection from the possibility of HOT-zombies -creatures with all of my HOTs and none of my first-order states. Hardcastle 2004 criticizes what she takes to be Rosenhal's reasoning in support of higher-order theories.  Matey 2011 offers a defense of the higher-order thought theory in a modified form.
Introductions Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Carruthers 2008; Scholarpedia: Rosenthal & Weisberg 2008; Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Droege 2005
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  1. In Defense of H.O.T. Theory: A Second Reply to Adams and Shreve.Rocco J. Gennaro - 2017 - Symposion. Theoretical and Applied Inquiries in Philosophy and Social Sciences 4 (2):231-239.
    In Gennaro (2016), I had originally replied to Fred Adams and Charlotte Shreve’s (2016) paper entitled “What Can Synesthesia Teach Us About Higher Order Theories of Consciousness?,” previously published in Symposion. I argued that H.O.T. theory does have the resources to account for synesthesia and the specific worries that they advance in their paper, such as the relationship between concepts and experience and the ability to handle instances of ‘pop-out’ experiences. They counter-reply in Adams and Shreve (2017) and also raise (...)
  2. The Varieties of Consciousness. [REVIEW]Tom Mcclelland - 2016 - Philosophical Quarterly 66 (265):871-874.
    Review of Uriah Kriegel's 'The Varieties of Consciousness'.
  3. The Problem of the Rock and the Grammar of Consciousness.Lajos L. Brons - 2017 - Disputatio 9 (44):5-12.
    The “Problem of the Rock” (PoR) is a famous objection to Higher-Order (HO) theories of consciousness. According to PoR, the HO theorists’ claim that a mental state is conscious iff there is a higher-order mental state about it implies that a rock is also conscious iff there is a higher-order mental state about it. In this paper I show that this argument confuses two grammatically distinct attributions of consciousness, and that if the consequent equivocation fallacy is avoided, PoR is either (...)
  4. A Seeming Problem for Higher-Order Theories of Consciousness.Jesse M. Mulder - 2016 - Dialogue 55 (3):449-465.
  5. The Varieties of Consciousness By U. Kriegel. [REVIEW]Svetlana Nagumanova - 2016 - Analysis 76 (4):553-556.
  6. Emergence of Higher Order Rotational Symmetry in the Hidden Order Phase of URuSi.N. Kanchanavatee, M. Janoschek, K. Huang, B. D. White, P. S. Riseborough, A. V. Balatsky & M. B. Maple - forthcoming - Philosophical Magazine:1-11.
  7. Domain Extensions and Higher-Order Syntactical Interpretations.Marek Polański - 2014 - In Godehard Link (ed.), Formalism and Beyond: On the Nature of Mathematical Discourse. De Gruyter. pp. 337-350.
  8. On Wholeness and Implicate Order in Crystals and its Implications for Consciousness Studies.Shirin Kaboli - 2016 - Cosmos and History 12 (2):137-149.
  9. What Can Synesthesia Teach Us About Higher Order Theories of Consciousness?Fred Adams & Charlotte Shreve - 2016 - Symposion: Theoretical and Applied Inquiries in Philosophy and Social Sciences 3 (3):251-257.
    In this article, we will describe higher order thought theories of consciousness. Then we will describe some examples from synesthesia. Finally, we will explain why the latter may be relevant to the former.
  10. Keeping It Real: Intentional Inexistents, Fineness‐of‐Grain, and the Dilemma for Extrinsic Higher‐Order Representational Theories.Vincent Picciuto - 2017 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 98 (4):555-575.
    According to the standard argument from targetless higher-order representations, the possibility of such representations presents a dilemma for higher-order theorists. In this article I argue that there are two theoretically well-motivated replies to the standard argument. Consequently, the standard argument against higher-order theories fails. I then go on to argue that while certain versions of higher-order theory can adequately respond to the standard argument, they both, nevertheless, fail to explain the fineness-of-grain that phenomenally conscious experience appears to have.
  11. State Consciousness Revisited.Pierre Jacob - unknown
    I try to reconcile Dretske's representational theory of conscious mental states with Rosenthal's higher-order thought theory of conscious mental states by arguing that Rosenthal's HOT can make room for the notion of a state of consciousness whereby an invidual may be conscious of an object or property without thereby being conscious of being in such a state.
  12. Ḥiwi Al-Balkhi: A Comparative Study. Judah Rosenthal.Louis H. Feldman - 1950 - Speculum 25 (2):294-295.
  13. Higher Order Matching is Undecidable.R. Loader - 2003 - Logic Journal of the IGPL 11 (1):51-68.
    We show that the solvability of matching problems in the simply typed λ-calculus, up to β equivalence, is not decidable. This decidability question was raised by Huet [4].Note that there are two variants of the question: that concerning β equivalence, and that concerning βη equivalence.The second of these is perhaps more interesting; unfortunately the work below sheds no light on it, except perhaps to illustrate the subtlety and difficulty of the problem.
  14. Higher-Order Magneto-Electric Effects.Edgar Ascher - 1968 - Philosophical Magazine 17 (145):149-157.
  15. Simultaneous Higher-Order Relation Prediction Via Collective Incidence Matrix Embedding.Nozomi Nori, Danushka Bollegala & Hisashi Kashima - 2015 - Transactions of the Japanese Society for Artificial Intelligence 30 (2):459-465.
  16. Toward an Instance Theory of Automatization.Gordon D. Logan - 1988 - Psychological Review 95 (4):492-527.
  17. Consciousness and Theory of Mind: A Common Theory?Miguel Ángel Sebastián - 2016 - Theoria: Revista de Teoría, Historia y Fundamentos de la Ciencia 31 (1):73-89.
    Many philosophers and scientists have argued that the difference between phenomenally conscious states and other kind of states lies in the implicit self-awareness that conscious states have. Higher-Order Representationalist theories, attempt to explain such a self-awareness by means of a higher-order representation. Consciousness relies on our capacity to represent our own mental states, consciousness depends on our Theory of Mind. Such an ability can, at least conceptually, be decomposed into another two: mindreading and metacognition. In this paper I will argue (...)
  18. De Se Thoughts and Conscious Mind.Javier Vidal - unknown
    In this paper I develop a modified version of the higher-order thought theory of consciousness. I argue that a mental state is conscious when it is accompanied by an implicit de se thought. This new version is important because it can accomodate the objection that a higher-order thought which is the conclusion of a conscious inference is not able to make a state mental conscious. Also I argue that if introspection consists in one's having an explicit de se thought, the (...)
  19. Simon Browne and the Paradox of 'Being in Denial'.B. P. Garvey - 2001 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 44 (1):3-20.
    It is often taken to be intuitively obvious that if one is in a given conscious state, then one knows that one is in that state. This alleged obvious truth lies at the heart of two very different philosophical doctrines fithe Cartesian doctrine that one has incorrigible knowledge about one?s own conscious states, and the view that one can explain all conscious states in terms of higher-order awareness of mental states. The present paper begins with a description of the real-life (...)
  20. Quotational Higher-Order Thought Theory.Kevin Timpe - 2015 - Philosophical Studies 172 (10):2705-2733.
    Due to their reliance on constitutive higher-order representing to generate the qualities of which the subject is consciously aware, I argue that the major existing higher-order representational theories of consciousness insulate us from our first-order sensory states. In fact on these views we are never properly conscious of our sensory states at all. In their place I offer a new higher-order theory of consciousness, with a view to making us suitably intimate with our sensory states in experience. This theory relies (...)
  21. A Simple Argument for a Higher-Order Representation Theory of Consciousness.William G. Lycan - 2001 - Analysis 61 (1):3-4.
  22. A Consistent Higher-Order Theory Without a Model.Thomas Forster - 1989 - Zeitschrift fur mathematische Logik und Grundlagen der Mathematik 35 (5):385-386.
  23. Consciousness Despite Network Underconnectivity in Autism: Another Case of Consciousness Without Prefrontal Activity?William Hirstein - 2015 - In Rocco Gennaro (ed.), Disturbed Consciousness: New Essays on Psychopathology and Theories of Consciousness. The M. I. T, Press. pp. 249-263.
    Recent evidence points to widespread underconnectivity in autistic brains owing to deviant white matter, the fibers that make long connections between areas of the cortex. Subjects with autism show measurably fewer long-range connections between the parietal and prefrontal cortices. These findings may help shed light on the current debate in the consciousness literature about whether conscious states require both prefrontal and parietal/temporal components. If it can be shown that people with autism have conscious states despite such underconnectivity, this would constitute (...)
  24. Zum Tod von Maud Levy-Rosenthal.Renate Reschke & Volker Gerhardt - 2008 - In Renate Reschke & Volker Gerhardt (eds.), Friedrich Nietzsche – Geschichte, Affekte, Medien. Akademie Verlag.
  25. A Note On Formalisations Of First-Order Theories.Teodor Stepien - 1993 - Reports on Mathematical Logic:19-28.
  26. Rocco J. Gennaro, Ed. The Interplay of Consciousness and Concepts. [REVIEW]Anton Petrenko - 2008 - Philosophy in Review 28 (6):407-411.
  27. Attention to Consciousness.Morgan Wallhagen - 2004 - Dissertation, University of Pennsylvania
    The notion of consciousness, though central to contemporary philosophy of mind, is not well understood. This fact vitiates many recent attempts to develop a theory of consciousness. I aim to achieve a deeper understanding of consciousness by considering what it is that distinguishes conscious mental phenomena from non-conscious mental phenomena. I argue that, contrary to widespread opinion, consciousness is not a matter of a mental state's possessing phenomenality. Nor is it simply a matter of an organism's developing a mental representation, (...)
  28. Modes of Occurrence.Barry Taylor, Bruce Vermazen & Merrill B. Hintikka - 1985 - Mind 94 (376):632-637.
  29. An Inquiry Into the Process of Human Experience: Attempting to Set Forth its Lower Laws, with Some Hints as to the Higher Phenomena of Consciousness.William Cyples - 1880 - Mind 5 (18):273-280.
  30. The Sources of Higher States of Consciousness.Steve Taylor - 2005 - International Journal of Transpersonal Studies 24:48-60.
    In this paper, it is argued that “higher states of consciousness”–or mystical experiences–have two main sources: they can be caused by a disruption of the normal homeostasis of the human organism and also by an intensification of the “consciousness-energy” that constitutes our being. . The author investigates examples of both types of experience, and compares and contrasts them. It is concluded that the second type of experience is the only one which is truly positive and which can become a fully (...)
  31. Does Consciousness Entail Self-Consciousness?Rocco Joseph Gennaro - 1991 - Dissertation, Syracuse University
    Consciousness entails self-consciousness. The entailment is generally denied for two reasons: some primitive forms of consciousness do not seem to require self-consciousness, and self-consciousness is regarded as a sophisticated capacity that need not accompany all conscious states. However, I show that what best explains how a mental state becomes conscious is that it is accompanied by a meta-psychological thought to the effect that one is in that mental state. I argue at some length that the meta-psychological state must specifically be (...)
  32. Dinamika Obydennogo Soznaniia.I. I. Dubinin & L. G. Gusliakova - 1985 - Izd-Vo Universitetskoe.
  33. Rachel Rosenthal.Moira Roth - 1997
  34. Self-Awareness as Conscious Meta-Representation.Sam Nicholson - 2014 - Philosophical Explorations 17 (2):172-187.
    Philosophical Explorations, Volume 17, Issue 2, Page 172-187, June 2014.
  35. Mental States, Conscious and Nonconscious.Jacob Berger - 2014 - Philosophy Compass 9 (6):392-401.
    I discuss here the nature of nonconscious mental states and the ways in which they may differ from their conscious counterparts. I first survey reasons to think that mental states can and often do occur without being conscious. Then, insofar as the nature of nonconscious mentality depends on how we understand the nature of consciousness, I review some of the major theories of consciousness and explore what restrictions they may place on the kinds of states that can occur nonconsciously. I (...)
  36. Toward an Instance Theory of Automatization.G. D. Logan - 1987 - Bulletin of the Psychonomic Society 25 (5):342-342.
  37. A Response to Rosenthal.Douglas A. Roberts & Audrey M. Chastko - 1991 - Science Education 75 (2):253-254.
  38. Events and Higher-Order Ontology.Toshiharu Waragai - 1993 - Annals of the Japan Association for Philosophy of Science 8 (3):163-173.
  39. XIII. Note Upon the Occurrence of a New Puccinia Upon Mesembryanthemum Micranthum Haw.P. MacOwan - 1879 - Transactions of the South African Philosophical Society 2 (2):89-90.
  40. Some Relativistic and Higher Order Supertasks.J. Pérez Laraudogoitia - 1998 - Philosophy of Science 65:502-517.
  41. The Sheer Occurrence of Things.L. McWhorter - 2004 - Research in Phenomenology 34 (1):281-288.
  42. B. Referate Uber Fremdsprachige Neuerscheinungen-Consciousness and Mind.David M. Rosenthal & Gerhard Preyer - 2006 - Philosophischer Literaturanzeiger 59 (3):310.
  43. Blandine Kriegel, The State and the Rule of Law Reviewed By.Mary Hawkesworth - 1996 - Philosophy in Review 16 (4):260-262.
  44. Mental and Bodily Awareness in Infancy: Consciousness of Self-Existence.Maria Legerstee - 1998 - Journal of Consciousness Studies 5 (5-6):5-6.
    In this article, I will draw on my own work and related publications to present some intuitions and hypotheses about the nature of the self and the mechanisms that lead to the development of consciousness or self awareness in human infants during the first 6 months of life. My main purpose is to show that the origins of a concept of self include the physical and the mental selves. I believe that it is essential when trying to understand what a (...)
  45. On the Problem of Self-Consciousness and the Origins of the Expressive Order: Commentaries on Dobert, Ruben and Keiler.R. Harre - 1981 - In Uffe Juul Jensen & Rom Harré (eds.), The Philosophy of Evolution. St. Martin's Press. pp. 26--155.
  46. Knowing What It is Like 'in DM Rosenthal'.D. K. Lewis - 1991 - In David M. Rosenthal (ed.), The Nature of Mind. Oxford University Press.
  47. Conference Oh the Electron Capture and Higher Order Processes in Nuclear Decays.P. Depohhier - 1968 - In Peter Koestenbaum (ed.), Proceedings. [San Jose? Calif.. pp. 1--202.
  48. On Higher Order Beliefs.Nils-Eric Sahlin - 1993 - In J. Dubucs (ed.), Philosophy of Probability. Kluwer, Dordrecht. pp. 13--34.
  49. E. Higher., Order Thought and Representationalism.Explaining Consciousness - 2002 - In David J. Chalmers (ed.), Philosophy of Mind: Classical and Contemporary Readings. Oxford University Press. pp. 406.
  50. Theories of Consciousness: Carruthers' Classification.O. K. Sheeja - 2007 - In Manjulika Ghosh (ed.), Musings on Philosophy: Perennial and Modern. Sundeep Prakashan. pp. 280.
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