The Consciousness Paradox: Consciousness, Concepts, and Higher-Order Thoughts [Book Review]

Philosophical Psychology 28 (3):434-448 (2015)
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Abstract

Gennaro presents a version of the higher-order thought theory of consciousness that differs from the version defended by Rosenthal . I explore several key differences between Gennaro's and Rosenthal's views, with an eye toward establishing that Rosenthal's Extrinsic Higher-Order Thought theory is preferable to Gennaro's Wide Intrinsicality View . Gennaro's attempts to demonstrate the superiority of the WIV rest on an unargued and implausible assumption to the effect that the higher-order intentional contents of self-representing conscious states are necessarily accurate. Gennaro relies on this assumption in avoiding what he sees as problematic consequences of Rosenthal's EHOT theory, which countenances the possibility that higher-order thoughts sometimes misrepresent lower-order states. I argue that these consequences, far from being problematic, actually constitute a strength of the EHOT theory, allowing it to explain phenomena such as dental fear, perceptual learning, and rare c..

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David Pereplyotchik
Kent State University