Higher-order thoughts and conscious experience

Philosophical Psychology 8 (3):239-254 (1995)
For nearly a decade, David Rosenthal has proposed that a mental state M of a creature C is conscious just in case C has a suitable higher-order thought directed toward M. While this theory has had its share of criticism in recent years, I believe that the real difficulties have been ignored. In this essay, I show that the presence of a higher order is insufficient for conscious experience, even if we suppose that the thought satisfies the constraints that Rosenthal lists . The only way Rosenthal's view could possibly yield sufficient conditions is by requiring that the higher-order thought be suitably causally related to its object. Yet, as I also show, the only causal constraint strong enough to do the job is not only ill-motivated but probably false
Keywords Belief  Consciousness  Experience  Psychology  Science  Rosenthal, D
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DOI 10.1080/09515089508573156
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David M. Rosenthal (1986). Two Concepts of Consciousness. Philosophical Studies 49 (May):329-59.

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