Consciousness is arguably the most important area within contemporary philosophy of mind and perhaps the most puzzling aspect of the world. Despite an explosion of research from philosophers, psychologists, and scientists, attempts to explain consciousness in neurophysiological, or even cognitive, terms are often met with great resistance. In The Consciousness Paradox, Rocco Gennaro aims to solve an underlying paradox, namely, how it is possible to hold a number of seemingly inconsistent views, including higher-order thought (HOT) theory, conceptualism, infant (...) and animal consciousness, concept acquisition, and what he calls the HOT-brain thesis. He defends and further develops a metapsychological reductive representational theory of consciousness and applies it to several importantly related problems. Gennaro proposes a version of the HOT theory of consciousness that he calls the "wide intrinsicality view" and shows why it is superior to various alternatives, such as self-representationalism and first-order representationalism. HOT theory says that what makes a mental state conscious is that a suitable higher-order thought is directed at that mental state. -/- Thus Gennaro argues for an overall philosophical theory of consciousness while applying it to other significant issues not usually addressed in the philosophical literature on consciousness. Most cognitive science and empirical works on such topics as concepts and animal consciousness do not address central philosophical theories of consciousness. Gennaro’s integration of empirical and philosophical concerns will make his argument of interest to both philosophers and nonphilosophers. (shrink)
Somatoparaphrenia is a pathology of self characterized by the sense of alienaton from parts of one’s body. It is usually construed as a kind of delusional disorder caused by extensive right hemisphere lesions. Lesions in the temporoparietal junction are common in somatoparaphrenia but deep cortical regions (for example, the posterior insula) and subcortical regions (for example, the basal ganglia) are also sometimes implicated (Valler and Ronschi 2009). Patients are often described as feeling that a limb belongs to another person and (...) thus attribute ownership of the limb and bodily sensation to someone else. There is also some question as to whether or not the higher-order thought (HOT) theory of consciousness can plausibly account for the depersonalization psychopathology of somatoparaphrenia (Liang and Lane 2009, Rosenthal 2010, Lane and Liang 2010). Liang and Lane argue that it cannot. The HOT theory of consciousness says that what makes a mental state a conscious mental state is that it is the target of a HOT to the effect that “I am in mental state M” (Rosenthal 2005, Gennaro 2012). When the HOT is itself is unconscious, the conscious state is still outer-directed. When the HOT is conscious, we have introspection and so the conscious thought is directed at the mental state. In section I, I briefly review the previous exchange between Lane and Liang and David Rosenthal. In section II, I further explore somatoparaphrenia and the nature of delusion while offering a number of additional replies to Lane and Liang. In section III, I examine the central notions of “mental state ownership” and “self-concepts” in an effort to account especially for the depersonalization aspect of somatoparaphrenia against the background of HOT theory. In section IV, I argue that to the extent that somatoparaphrenia casts doubt on the notion that some thoughts are “immune to error through misidentification” (IEM), the most fundamental aspect of IEM is still consistent with HOT theory. Overall, I argue that HOT theory is left unscathed by the pheneomenon of somatoparaphrenia and can even help to explain what happens in these cases. (shrink)
This paper bridges art history and consciousness studies and investigates the network of gazes and frames in Las Meninas and how this engages with a system of higher-orderthoughts and reflexive operations.
Experiences, by definition, have phenomenal character. But many experiences have a specific type of phenomenal character: presentational character. While both visual experience and conscious thought make us aware of their objects, only in visual experience do objects seem present before the mind and available for direct access. I argue that Higher-Order Thought (HOT) theories of consciousness have a particularly steep hill to climb in accommodating presentational character.
The higher-order thought (HOT) theory of consciousness is a reductive representational theory of consciousness which says that what makes a mental state conscious is that there is a suitable HOT directed at that mental state. Although it seems that any neural realization of the theory must be somewhat widely distributed in the brain, it remains unclear just how widely distributed it needs to be. In section I, I provide some background and define some key terms. In section II, (...) I argue against the view that HOT theory should treat first-order (i.e. world-directed) conscious states as requiring prefrontal cortical activity though it is reasonable to suppose that conscious states are realized in the brain. In section III, I then explore some of the key background metaphysical issues involved in understanding the nature of consciousness, such as the debate between realism and idealism as well as the prospects for solving the so-called “hard problem” of consciousness. Some of the differences in question often mirror the traditional differences between Western and Eastern perspectives on the nature of consciousness. Overall, I argue that some form of realism and physicalism is more plausible than the opposing views. I also argue that materialists (and especially HOT theorists) can offer plausible replies to the hard problem. (shrink)
This paper considers two subjective measures of the existence of unconscious mental states - the guessing criterion, and the zero correlation criterion - and considers the assumptions underlying their application in experimental paradigms. Using higherorder thought theory the impact of different types of biases on the zero correlation and guessing criteria are considered. It is argued that subjective measures of consciousness can be biased in various specified ways, some of which involve the relation between first order (...) states and second orderthoughts, and hence are not errors in measurement of the conscious status of mental states; but other sorts of biases are measurement errors, involving the relation between higherorderthoughts and their expression. Nonetheless, it is argued this type of bias does not preclude subjective measures - both the guessing criterion and the zero correlation criterion - as being amongst the most appropriate and useful tools for measuring the conscious status of mental states. (shrink)
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-orderthoughts 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.. (shrink)
My overall goal in The Consciousness Paradox: Consciousness, Concepts, and Higher-OrderThoughts is to solve what I take to be a paradox with regard to holding a series of interrelated theses, including a version of the higher-order thought theory of consciousness which says that what makes a mental state conscious is that there is a suitable higher-order thought directed at the mental state. Higher-orderthoughts are metapsychological or meta-cognitive states, that (...) is, mental states directed at other mental states. This theory is primarily concerned with explaining how conscious mental states differ from unconscious mental states. In The Consciousness Paradox I defend and further develop a metapsychological reductive representational theory of consciousness and then apply it to several importantly related problems including concept acquisition and animal consciousness. (shrink)
Because there is a fair amount of overlap in the points by Balog and Rey, I will organize this response topically, referring speciﬁcally to each commentator as rele- vant. And, because much of the discussion focuses on my higher-order-thought hypothesis independent of questions about metacognition, I will begin by addressing a cluster of issues that have to do with the status, motivation, and exact formulation of that hypothesis.
There is much that is interesting in Gennaro's discussion of concepts and concept acquisition, and in general I am very sympathetic to the goals of his book, even if not with every detail (for another account of these issues that I don't fully agree with see Rosenthal 2005, chapter 7). I agree that we have good reason to think that some version of a higher-order thought theory of consciousness could be true and that this is consistent with animals (...) and infants having conscious experience. However, Gennaro and I disagree on the very basic issue of how we formulate the higher-order theory and its explanatory goals, and so I will focus on these more basic issues in the remainder of this review. (shrink)
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. (shrink)
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 higherorder 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. (shrink)
If not a paradox, consciousness is at least an enigma. Many believe consciousness is hard to have, whereas others are panpsychists. Many hold that consciousness is hard to understand, perhaps impossibly so, whereas others believe we already have available an adequate general understanding of consciousness. Rocco Gennaro belongs to the second camp, and in this important work he explains why.In The Paradox of Consciousness, Gennaro develops and defends a higher-order thought (HOT) theory of consciousness. A HOT theory is (...) an alternative to theories that consciousness depends on a “global workplace” that integrates and processes data from multiple sense modalities, or that what makes a conscious first-order mental state is what the state represents (“representationalism”). Any of these causal/computational theories has the great advantage over, say, quantum approaches, of providing a large-scale blueprint for actually designing a system that, if the theory is correct, would be conscious. T .. (shrink)
Consciousness is the subject of many metaphors, and one of the most hardy perennials compares consciousness to a spotlight, illuminating certain mental goings-on, while leaving others to do their work in the dark. One way of elaborating the spotlight metaphor is this: mental events are loaded on to one end of a conveyer belt by the senses, and move with the belt.
Among our conscious states are conscious thoughts. The question at the center of the recent growing literature on cognitive phenomenology is this: In consciously thinking P, is there thereby any phenomenology—is there something it’s like? One way of clarifying the question is to say that it concerns whether there is any proprietary phenomenology associated with conscious thought. Is there any phenomenology due to thinking, as opposed to phenomenology that is due to some co-occurring sensation or mental image? In this (...) paper we will present two arguments that a “yes” answer to this question of cognitive phenomenology can be obtained via appeal to the HOT theory of consciousness, especially the version articulated and defended by David Rosenthal. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is to apply the accuracy based approach to epistemology to the case of higherorder evidence: evidence that bears on the rationality of one's beliefs. I proceed in two stages. First, I show that the accuracy based framework that is standardly used to motivate rational requirements supports steadfastness—a position according to which higherorder evidence should have no impact on one's doxastic attitudes towards first order propositions. The argument for this (...) will require a generalization of an important result by Greaves and Wallace for the claim that conditionalization maximizes expected accuracy. The generalization I provide will, among other things, allow us to apply the result to cases of self-locating evidence. In the second stage, I develop an alternative framework. Very roughly, what distinguishes the traditional approach from the alternative one is that, on the traditional picture, we're interested in evaluating the expected accuracy of conforming to an update procedure. On the alternative picture that I develop, instead of considering how good an update procedure is as a plan to conform to, we consider how good it is as a plan to make. I show how, given the use of strictly proper scoring rules, the alternative picture vindicates calibrationism: a view according to which higherorder evidence should have a significant impact on our beliefs. I conclude with some thoughts about why higherorder evidence poses a serious challenge for standard ways of thinking about rationality. (shrink)
Some advocates of higher-order theories of consciousness believe that the correct theory of consciousness together with empirical facts about animal intelligence make it highly unlikely that animals are capable of having phenomenally conscious experiences. I will argue that even if the higher-order thought (HOT) theory of consciousness is correct, there is good evidence (taken from experiments in mind reading and metacognition, as well as considerations from neurophysiology and evolutionary biology) that at least some nonhuman animals can (...) form the higher-orderthoughts and thus will count as phenomenally conscious on HOT theory. (shrink)
Higher-order theories of consciousness posit that a mental state is conscious by virtue of being represented by another mental state, which is therefore a higher-order representation (HOR). Whether HORs are construed as thoughts or experiences, higher-order theorists have generally contested whether such metarepresentations have any significant cognitive function. In this paper, I argue that they do, focusing on the value of conscious thinking, as distinguished from conscious perceiving, conscious feeling, and other forms of (...) conscious mentality. A thinking process is constituted by propositional-attitude states, and during conscious thinking some or all of these states would be targeted by HORs. Since cases of nonconscious thinking are widely accepted, the question arises as to the use of representing one's thoughts during thinking. Contra the views of Armstrong and Rolls, I argue that HORs do not facilitate first-order thinking. Rather, I propose that such representations enable reasoning about one's act of thinking, and I give various examples of this sort of metacognition in support of the theory. I further argue that the general correlation between complex thinking and its being conscious is merely due to the fact that assessing one's mental act is particularly useful during such thinking, not because consciousness somehow facilitates first-order inference-making, as folk psychology implies. My view is thus consistent with recent empirical evidence that complex thinking sometimes yields better results when nonconscious. (shrink)
Various psychopathologies of self-awareness, such as somatoparaphrenia and thought insertion in schizophrenia, might seem to threaten the viability of the higher-order thought (HOT) theory of consciousness since it requires a HOT about one’s own mental state to accompany every conscious state. The HOT theory of consciousness says that what makes a mental state a conscious mental state is that there is a HOT to the effect that “I am in mental state M.” I have argued in previous work (...) that a HOT theorist can adequately respond to this concern with respect to somatoparaphrenia and thought insertion. There is also Cotard syndrome which is a rare neuropsychiatric disorder in which people hold the delusional belief that they are dead, do not exist, or have lost their blood or internal organs. In this paper, I argue that HOT theory has nothing to fear from it either and can consistently account for what happens in such unusual cases. I analyze Cotard syndrome in light of my previous discussion of somatoparaphrenia and thought insertion, and argue that HOT theory can provide a somewhat analogous account without the worry of inconsistency. It is crucial to recognize that there are multiple “self-concepts” and levels of HOTs which can help to provide a more nuanced explanation. With regard to the connection between consciousness and self-consciousness, it is proposed that Cotard patients are indeed capable of having some “I-thoughts” about their bodies and mental states. (shrink)
Recent authors have drawn attention to a new kind of defeating evidence commonly referred to as higher-order evidence. Such evidence works by inducing doubts that one’s doxastic state is the result of a flawed process – for instance, a process brought about by a reason-distorting drug. I argue that accommodating defeat by higher-order evidence requires a two-tiered theory of justification, and that the phenomenon gives rise to a puzzle. The puzzle is that at least in some (...) situations involving higher-order defeaters the correct epistemic rules issue conflicting recommendations. For instance, a subject ought to believe p, but she ought also to suspend judgment in p. I discuss three responses. The first resists the puzzle by arguing that there is only one correct epistemic rule, an Über-rule. The second accepts that there are genuine epistemic dilemmas. The third appeals to a hierarchy or ordering of correct epistemic rules. I spell out problems for all of these responses. I conclude that the right lesson to draw from the puzzle is that a state can be epistemically rational or justified even if one has what looks to be strong evidence to think that it is not. As such, the considerations put forth constitute a non question-begging argument for a kind of externalism. (shrink)
Most epistemologists maintain that we are rationally required to believe what our evidence supports. Generally speaking, any factor that makes it more probable that a given state of affairs obtains (or does not obtain) is evidence (for that state of affairs). In line with this view, many metaethicists believe that we are rationally required to believe what’s morally right and wrong based on what our moral evidence (e.g. our moral intuitions, along with descriptive information about the world) supports. However, sometimes (...) we get information about our evidence, such as a theory that explains that all moral intuitions are ultimately caused by evolutionary forces. Such genealogical claims like this take form as a puzzle about how to rationally respond to higher-order evidence in moral epistemology. How should we change our moral views in response to genealogical claims about the evolutionary origin of our moral beliefs or about widespread moral disagreement? This introductory chapter first explains the issue about how to change our moral views based on an easily accessible example. Then it shows how recent debates about the puzzle of higher-order evidence bears on recent debates in moral epistemology, notably the debates about evolutionary debunking arguments in metaethics, the epistemic significance of moral peer disagreement, moral testimony, and collective moral knowledge before it introduces the chapters of this book. (shrink)
Abstract. This paper argues that the “Argument from Moral Peer Disagreement” fails to make a case for widespread moral skepticism. The main reason for this is that the argument rests on a too strong assumption about the normative significance of peer disagreement (and higher-order evidence more generally). In order to demonstrate this, I distinguish two competing ways in which one might explain higher-order defeat. According to what I call the “Objective Defeat Explanation” it is the (...) mere possession of higher-order evidence that explains defeat. I argue that this type of explanation is problematic and that it at best collapses into another explanation I call the “Subjective Defeat Explanation”. According to this explanation, it is coming to believe that one’s belief fails to be rational that explains defeat. Then I go on to argue that the Subjective Defeat Explanation is able to provide a straightforward explanation of higher-order defeat but that it entails that peer disagreement (and higher-order evidence more generally) only contingently gives rise to defeat, and importantly, that the condition it is contingent upon is very often not satisfied when it comes to moral peer disagreement specifically. As a result, it appears that moral knowledge is seldom threatened by moral peer disagreement. (shrink)
Are the circumstances in which moral testimony serves as evidence that our judgement-forming processes are unreliable the same circumstances in which mundane testimony serves as evidence that our mundane judgement-forming processes are unreliable? In answering this question, we distinguish two possible roles for testimony: (i) providing a legitimate basis for a judgement, (ii) providing (‘higher-order’) evidence that a judgement-forming process is unreliable. We explore the possibilities for a view according to which moral testimony does not, in contrast to (...) mundane testimony play role (i), but can play role (ii). We argue that standard motivations for rejecting this hybrid position are unpersuasive but suggest that a more compelling reason might be found in considering the social nature of morality. (shrink)
You have higher-order uncertainty iff you are uncertain of what opinions you should have. I defend three claims about it. First, the higher-order evidence debate can be helpfully reframed in terms of higher-order uncertainty. The central question becomes how your first- and higher-order opinions should relate—a precise question that can be embedded within a general, tractable framework. Second, this question is nontrivial. Rational higher-order uncertainty is pervasive, and lies at the (...) foundations of the epistemology of disagreement. Third, the answer is not obvious. The Enkratic Intuition---that your first-order opinions must “line up” with your higher-order opinions---is incorrect; epistemic akrasia can be rational. If all this is right, then it leaves us without answers---but with a clear picture of the question, and a fruitful strategy for pursuing it. (shrink)
On an optimistic version of realist moral epistemology, a significant range of ordinary moral beliefs, construed in realist terms, constitute knowledge—or at least some weaker positive epistemic status, such as epistemic justification. The “debunking challenge” to this view grants prima facie justification but claims that it is “debunked” (i.e., defeated), yielding the final verdict that moral beliefs are ultima facie unjustified. Notable candidate “debunkers” (i.e., defeaters) include the so-called “evolutionary debunking arguments,” the “Benacerraf-Field Challenge,” and persistent moral disagreement among epistemic (...) peers. Such defeaters are best treated as higher-order evidence—viz., evidence contesting the merits of the first-order evidence on which moral beliefs are based. This chapter first develops a theory of higher-order defeat in general, which it then applies to debunking in particular. The result: the challenge fails entirely on epistemic grounds—regardless of whether or not its empirical and metaphysical presuppositions are correct. An advantage of this purely epistemic defense over alternative strategies is that the former extends even to laypersons who themselves lack the expertise necessary to formulate an adequate response. However, this leaves open the prospects for non-epistemological interpretations of debunking (e.g., moral or ontological). The chapter therefore concludes with brief suggestions in that direction. (shrink)
In everyday life and in science we acquire evidence of evidence and based on this new evidence we often change our epistemic states. An assumption underlying such practice is that the following EEE Slogan is correct: 'evidence of evidence is evidence' (Feldman 2007, p. 208). We suggest that evidence of evidence is best understood as higher-order evidence about the epistemic state of agents. In order to model evidence of evidence we introduce a new powerful framework for modelling (...) epistemic states, Dyadic Bayesianism. Based on this framework, we then discuss characterizations of evidence of evidence and argue for one of them. Finally, we show that whether the EEE Slogan holds, depends on the specific kind of evidence of evidence. (shrink)
It seems obvious that when higher-order evidence makes it rational for one to doubt that one’s own belief on some matter is rational, this can undermine the rationality of that belief. This is known as higher-order defeat. However, despite its intuitive plausibility, it has proved puzzling how higher-order defeat works, exactly. To highlight two prominent sources of puzzlement, higher-order defeat seems to defy being understood in terms of conditionalization; and higher-order (...) defeat can sometimes place agents in what seem like epistemic dilemmas. This chapter draws attention to an overlooked aspect of higher-order defeat, namely that it can undermine the resilience of one’s beliefs. The notion of resilience was originally devised to understand how one should reflect the ‘weight’ of one’s evidence. But it can also be applied to understand how one should reflect one’s higher-order evidence. The idea is particularly useful for understanding cases where one’s higher-order evidence indicates that one has failed in correctly assessing the evidence, without indicating whether one has over- or underestimated the degree of evidential support for a proposition. But it is exactly in such cases that the puzzles of higher-order defeat seem most compelling. (shrink)
Conscious mental states are states we are in some way aware of. I compare higher-order theories of consciousness, which explain consciousness by appeal to such higher-order awareness (HOA), and first-order theories, which do not, and I argue that higher-order theories have substantial explanatory advantages. The higher-order nature of our awareness of our conscious states suggests an analogy with the metacognition that figures in the regulation of psychological processes and behaviour. I argue (...) that, although both consciousness and metacognition involve higher-order psychological states, they have little more in common. One thing they do share is the possibility of misrepresentation; just as metacognitive processing can misrepresent one’s cognitive states and abilities, so the HOA in virtue of which one’s mental states are conscious can, and sometimes does, misdescribe those states. A striking difference between the two, however, has to do with utility for psychological processing. Metacognition has considerable benefit for psychological processing; in contrast, it is unlikely that there is much, if any, utility to mental states’ being conscious over and above the utility those states have when they are not conscious. (shrink)
Evidentialism is the thesis, roughly, that one’s beliefs should fit one’s evidence. The enkratic principle is the thesis, roughly, that one’s beliefs should "line up" with one’s beliefs about which beliefs one ought to have. While both theses have seemed attractive to many, they jointly entail the controversial thesis that self-misleading evidence is impossible. That is to say, if evidentialism and the enkratic principle are both true, one’s evidence cannot support certain false beliefs about which beliefs one’s evidence supports. Recently, (...) a number of epistemologists have challenged the thesis that self-misleading evidence is impossible on the grounds that misleading higher-order evidence does not have the kind of strong and systematic defeating force that would be needed to rule out the possibility of such self-misleading evidence. Here I respond to this challenge by proposing an account of higher-order defeat that does, indeed, render self-misleading evidence impossible. Central to the proposal is the idea that higher-order evidence acquires its normative force by influencing which conditional beliefs it is rational to have. What emerges, I argue, is an independently plausible view of higher-order evidence, which has the additional benefit of allowing us to reconcile evidentialism with the enkratic principle. (shrink)
First-order evidence is evidence which bears on whether a proposition is true. Higher-order evidence is evidence which bears on whether a person is able to assess her evidence for or against a proposition. A widespread view is that higher-order evidence makes a difference to whether it is rational for a person to believe a proposition. In this paper, I consider in what way higher-order evidence might do this. More specifically, I consider whether and (...) how higher-order evidence plays a role in determining what it is rational to believe distinct from that which first-order evidence plays. To do this, I turn to the theory of reasons, and try to situate higher-order evidence within it. The only place I find for it there, distinct from that which first-order evidence already occupies, is as a practical reason, that is, as a reason for desire or action. One might take this to show either that the theory of reasons is inadequate as it stands or that higher-order evidence makes no distinctive difference to what it is rational to believe. I tentatively endorse the second option. (shrink)
My aim in this paper is to develop and defend a novel answer to a question that has recently generated a considerable amount of controversy. The question concerns the normative significance of peer disagreement. Suppose that you and I have been exposed to the same evidence and arguments that bear on some proposition: there is no relevant consideration which is available to you but not to me, or vice versa. For the sake of concreteness, we might picture.
Emotional states of consciousness, or what are typically called emotional feelings, are traditionally viewed as being innately programed in subcortical areas of the brain, and are often treated as different from cognitive states of consciousness, such as those related to the perception of external stimuli. We argue that conscious experiences, regardless of their content, arise from one system in the brain. On this view, what differs in emotional and non-emotional states is the kind of inputs that are processed by a (...) general cortical network of cognition, a network essential for conscious experiences. Although subcortical circuits are not directly responsible for conscious feelings, they provide non-conscious inputs that coalesce with other kinds of neural signals in the cognitive assembly of conscious emotional experiences. In building the case for this proposal, we defend a modified version of what is known as the higher-order theory of consciousness. (shrink)
Critics have often misunderstood the higher-order theory (HOT) of consciousness. Here we clarify its position on several issues, and distinguish it from other views such as the global The higher-order theory (HOT) of consciousness has often been misunderstood by critics. Here we clarify its position on several issues, and distinguish it from other views such as the global workspace theory (GWT) and early sensory models (e.g. first-order local recurrency theories). For example, HOT has been criticized (...) for over-intellectualizing consciousness. We show that while higher-order states are cognitively assembled, the requirements are actually considerably less than often presumed. In this sense HOT may be viewed as an intermediate position between GWT and early sensory views. Also, we clarify that most proponents of HOT do not stipulate consciousness as equivalent to metacognition or confidence. Further, compared to other existing theories, HOT can arguably account better for complex everyday experiences, such as of emotions and episodic memories. This makes HOT particularly useful as a framework for conceptualizing pathological mental states. (shrink)
Sometimes we get evidence of our own epistemic malfunction. This can come from finding out we’re fatigued, or have been drugged, or that other competent and well-informed thinkers disagree with our beliefs. This sort of evidence seems to seems to behave differently from ordinary evidence about the world. In particular, getting such evidence can put agents in a position where the most rational response involves violating some epistemic ideal.
Evidentialism is the thesis that a person is justified in believing a proposition iff the person's evidence on balance supports that proposition. In discussing epistemological issues associated with disagreements among epistemic peers, some philosophers have endorsed principles that seem to run contrary to evidentialism, specifying how one should revise one's beliefs in light of disagreement. In this paper, I examine the connection between evidentialism and these principles. I argue that the puzzles about disagreement provide no reason to abandon evidentialism and (...) that there are no true general principles about justified responses to disagreement other than the general evidentialist principle. I then argue that the puzzles about disagreement are primarily puzzles about the evidential impact of higher - order evidence – evidence about the significance or existence of ordinary, or first- order, evidence. I conclude by arguing that such higher - order evidence can often have a profound effect on the justification of first- order beliefs. (shrink)
Conciliatory views of disagreement maintain that discovering a particular type of disagreement requires that one make doxastic conciliation. In this paper I give a more formal characterization of such a view. After explaining and motivating this view as the correct view regarding the epistemic significance of disagreement, I proceed to defend it from several objections concerning higher-order evidence made by Thomas Kelly.
This paper is a study of higher-order contingentism – the view, roughly, that it is contingent what properties and propositions there are. We explore the motivations for this view and various ways in which it might be developed, synthesizing and expanding on work by Kit Fine, Robert Stalnaker, and Timothy Williamson. Special attention is paid to the question of whether the view makes sense by its own lights, or whether articulating the view requires drawing distinctions among possibilities that, (...) according to the view itself, do not exist to be drawn. The paper begins with a non-technical exposition of the main ideas and technical results, which can be read on its own. This exposition is followed by a formal investigation of higher-order contingentism, in which the tools of variable-domain intensional model theory are used to articulate various versions of the view, understood as theories formulated in a higher-order modal language. Our overall assessment is mixed: higher-order contingentism can be fleshed out into an elegant systematic theory, but perhaps only at the cost of abandoning some of its original motivations. (shrink)