Higher-order thoughts and the appendage theory of consciousness

Philosophical Psychology 6 (2):155-66 (1993)

David Rosenthal
CUNY Graduate Center
Theories of what it is for a mental state to be conscious must answer two questions. We must say how we're conscious of our conscious mental states. And we must explain why we seem to be conscious of them in a way that's immediate. Thomas Natsoulas distinguishes three strategies for explaining what it is for mental states to be conscious. I show that the differences among those strategies are due to the divergent answers they give to the foregoing questions. Natsoulas finds most promising the strategy that amounts to the higher-order-thought hypothesis that I've defended elsewhere. But he raises a difficulty for it, which he thinks probably can be met only by modifying that strategy. I argue that this is unnecessary. The difficulty is a special case of a general question, the answer to which is independent of any issues about consciousness. So it's no part of a theory of consciousness to address the problem, much less solve it. Moreover, the difficulty seems to have intuitive force only given the picture that underlies the other two explanatory strategies, which both Natsoulas and I reject
Keywords Consciousness  Mental States  Metaphysics  Reason  Science  Natsoulas, T
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DOI 10.1080/09515089308573085
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References found in this work BETA

Two Concepts of Consciousness.David M. Rosenthal - 1986 - Philosophical Studies 49 (May):329-59.

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Higher-Order Thoughts and Conscious Experience.Robert Francescotti - 1995 - Philosophical Psychology 8 (3):239-254.

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