Philosophical Topics 48 (1):21-37 (2020)

Authors
Jonathan Birch
London School of Economics
Abstract
Peter Carruthers has recently argued for a surprising conditional: if a global workspace theory of phenomenal consciousness is both correct and fully reductive, then there are no substantive facts to discover about phenomenal consciousness in nonhuman animals. I present two problems for this conditional. First, it rests on an odd double-standard about the ordinary concept of phenomenal consciousness: its intuitive non-gradability is taken to be unchallengeable by future scientific developments, whereas its intuitive determinacy is predicted to fall by the wayside. Second, it relies on dismissing, prematurely, the live empirical possibility that phenomenal consciousness may be linked to a core global broadcast mechanism that is shared by a wide range of animals. Future developments in the science of consciousness may lead us to reconsider the non-gradability of phenomenal consciousness, but they are unlikely to lead us to accept that there are no facts to discover outside the paradigm case of a healthy adult human.
Keywords animal consciousness  consciousness science  global workspace theory  phenomenal concepts
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DOI 10.5840/philtopics20204812
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References found in this work BETA

A Cognitive Theory of Consciousness.Bernard J. Baars - 1988 - Cambridge University Press.
The Character of Consciousness.David John Chalmers - 2010 - Oxford University Press.
Thinking About Consciousness.David Papineau - 2002 - Oxford University Press UK.
Naturalizing the Mind.Fred Dretske - 1995 - Philosophy 72 (279):150-154.

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Citations of this work BETA

Animal Sentience.Heather Browning & Jonathan Birch - 2022 - Philosophy Compass 17 (5):e12822.
The Hatching of Consciousness. [REVIEW]Jonathan Birch - 2021 - History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 43 (4):1-12.

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