Consciousness is not a property of states: A reply to Wilberg

Philosophical Psychology 27 (6):829-842 (2014)
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Abstract

According to Rosenthal's higher-order thought (HOT) theory of consciousness, one is in a conscious mental state if and only if one is aware of oneself as being in that state via a suitable HOT. Several critics have argued that the possibility of so-called targetless HOTs?that is, HOTs that represent one as being in a state that does not exist?undermines the theory. Recently, Wilberg (2010) has argued that HOT theory can offer a straightforward account of such cases: since consciousness is a property of mental state tokens, and since there are no states to exhibit consciousness, one is not in conscious states in virtue of targetless HOTs. In this paper, I argue that Wilberg's account is problematic and that Rosenthal's version of HOT theory, according to which a suitable HOT is both necessary and sufficient for consciousness, is to be preferred to Wilberg's account. I then argue that Rosenthal's account can comfortably accommodate targetless HOTs because consciousness is best understood as a property of individuals, not a property of states

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Jacob Berger
Lycoming College

Citations of this work

The HOROR Theory of Phenomenal Consciousness.Richard Brown - 2015 - Philosophical Studies 172 (7):1783-1794.
Higher-order theories of consciousness.Peter Carruthers - 2008 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
On ambitious higher-order theories of consciousness.Joseph Gottlieb - 2020 - Philosophical Psychology 33 (3):421-441.
The Higher-Order Map Theory of Consciousness.Joseph Gottlieb - 2022 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 100 (1):131-148.
Perceptual consciousness plays no epistemic role.Jacob Berger - 2020 - Philosophical Issues 30 (1):7-23.

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References found in this work

What is it like to be a bat?Thomas Nagel - 1974 - Philosophical Review 83 (October):435-50.
Naming and Necessity.S. Kripke - 1972 - Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 45 (4):665-666.

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