Unconscious Perception and Unconscious Bias: Parallel Debates about Unconscious Content

In Uriah Kriegel (ed.), Oxford Studies in Philosophy of Mind Vol. 3. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 87-130 (2023)
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The possibilities of unconscious perception and unconscious bias prompt parallel debates about unconscious mental content. This chapter argues that claims within these debates alleging the existence of unconscious content are made fraught by ambiguity and confusion with respect to the two central concepts they involve: consciousness and content. Borrowing conceptual resources from the debate about unconscious perception, the chapter distills the two conceptual puzzles concerning each of these notions and establishes philosophical strategies for their resolution. It then argues that empirical evidence for unconscious bias falls victim to these same puzzles, but that progress can be made by adopting similar philosophical strategies. Throughout, the chapter highlights paths forward in both debates, illustrates how they serve as fruitful domains in which to study the relationship between philosophy and empirical science, and uses their combined study to further understanding of a general theory of unconscious content.



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Gabbrielle M. Johnson
Claremont McKenna College

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References found in this work

Origins of Objectivity.Tyler Burge - 2010 - Oxford, GB: Oxford University Press.
Subjective Consciousness: A Self-Representational Theory.Uriah Kriegel - 2009 - Oxford, GB: Oxford University Press UK.
Consciousness and Mind.David M. Rosenthal - 2005 - New York: Oxford University Press UK.

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