Consciousness: explaining the phenomena.

Carruthers, Peter (2002) Consciousness: explaining the phenomena. [Book Chapter]

Full text available as:



Can phenomenal consciousness be given a reductive natural explanation? Many people argue not. They claim that there is an 'explanatory gap' between physical and/or intentional states and processes, on the one hand, and phenomenal consciousness, on the other. I reply that, since we have purely recognitional concepts of experience, there is indeed a sort of gap at the level of concepts; but this need not mean that the properties picked out by those concepts are inexplicable. I show how dispositionalist higher-order thought (HOT) theory can reductively explain the subjective feel of experience by deploying a form of 'consumer semantics'. First-order perceptual contents become transformed, acquiring a dimension of subjectivity, by virtue to their availability to a mind-reading (HOT generating) consumer system.

Item Type:Book Chapter
Keywords:phenomenal consciousness higher-order experience consciousness higher-order thought
Subjects:Psychology > Cognitive Psychology
Philosophy > Philosophy of Mind
ID Code:2235
Deposited By:Carruthers, Peter
Deposited On:07 Jun 2002
Last Modified:11 Mar 2011 08:54

References in Article

Select the SEEK icon to attempt to find the referenced article. If it does not appear to be in cogprints you will be forwarded to the paracite service. Poorly formated references will probably not work.

Aglioti, S., DeSouza, J. and Goodale, M. 1995. Size-contrast illusions deceive the eye but not the hand. Current Biology, 5.

Andrews, J., Livingston, K. and Harnad, S. 1999. Categorical perception effects induced by category learning. ???

Baars, B. 1988. A Cognitive Theory of Consciousness. Cambridge University Press.

Baars, B. 1997. In the Theatre of Consciousness. Oxford University Press.

Baron-Cohen, S. 1989. Are autistic children behaviourists? An examination of their mental-physical and appearance-reality distinctions. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 19.

Block, N. 1995. A confusion about a function of consciousness. Behavioural and Brain Sciences, 18.

Botterill, G. and Carruthers, P. 1999. The Philosophy of Psychology. Cambridge University Press.

Bridgeman, B. 1991. Complementary cognitive and motor image processing. In G. Obrecht and L. Stark, eds., Presbyopia Research. Plenum Press.

Bridgeman, B., Peery, S. and Anand, S. 1997. Interaction of cognitive and sensorimotor maps of visual space. Perception and Psychophysics, 59.

Browne, D. 1999. Carruthers on the deficits of animals. Psyche, 5. <>

Carruthers, P. 1979. The Place of the Private Language Argument in the Philosophy of Language. Oxford DPhil thesis. Unpublished.

Carruthers, P. 1986. Introducing Persons. Routledge.

Carruthers, P. 1996. Language, Thought and Consciousness. Cambridge University Press.

Carruthers, P. 2000. Phenomenal Consciousness: a naturalistic theory. Cambridge University Press.

Castiello, U., Paulignan, Y. and Jeannerod, M. 1991. Temporal dissociation of motor-responses and subjective awareness study in normal subjects. Brain, 114.

Chalmers, D. 1996. The Conscious Mind. Oxford University Press.

Clements, W. and Perner, J. 1994. Implicit understanding of belief. Cognitive Development, 9.

Dennett, D. 1991. Consciousness Explained. Penguin Press.

Dretske, F. 1995. Naturalizing the Mind. MIT Press.

Flavell, J., Flavell, E. and Green, F. 1987. Young children's knowledge about the apparent-real and pretend-real distinctions. Developmental Psychology, 23.

Fodor, J. 1992. A theory of the child's theory of mind. Cognition, 44.

Goldstone, R. 1994. Influences of categorisation on perceptual discrimination. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 123.

Gopnik, A. 1993. How we know our own minds. Behavioural and Brain Sciences, 16.

Gopnik, A. and Astington, J. 1988. Children's understanding of representational change and its relation to the understanding of false belief and the appearance-reality distinction. Child Development, 59.

Hurley, S. 1998. Consciousness in Action. Harvard University Press.

Kitcher, P. 1993. The Advancement of Science. Oxford University Press.

Leslie, A. 1994. Pretending and believing. Cognition, 50.

Lucy, J. 1992. Grammatical Categories and Cognition. Cambridge University Press.

Lycan, W. 1996. Consciousness and Experience. MIT Press.

Marcel, A. 1983. Conscious and unconscious perception. Cognitive Psychology, 15.

Marcel, A. 1998. Blindsight and shape perception: deficit of visual consciousness or of visual function? Brain, 121.

McGinn, C. 1991. The Problem of Consciousness. Blackwell.

Millikan, R. 1984. Language, Thought, and Other Biological Categories. MIT Press.

Milner, D. and Goodale, M. 1993. Visual pathways to perception and action. Progress in Brain Research, 95.

Milner, D. and Goodale, M. 1995. The Visual Brain in Action. Oxford University Press.

Nagel, T. 1974. What is it like to be a bat? Philosophical Review, 83.

Peacocke, C. 1992. A Study of Concepts. MIT Press.

Robb, D. 1998. Recent work in the philosophy of mind. Philosophical Quarterly, 48.

Rosenthal, D. 1986. Two concepts of consciousness. Philosophical Studies, 49.

Sperber, D., Premack, D., and Premack, A. eds. 1995. Causal Cognition. Oxford University Press.

Tye, M. 1995. Ten Problems of Consciousness. MIT Press.

Weiskrantz, L. 1986. Blindsight. Oxford University Press.

Weiskrantz, L. 1997. Consciousness Lost and Found. Oxford University Press.

Welch, R. 1978. Perceptual Modification. Academic Press.

Wittgenstein, L. 1953. Philosophical Investigations. Blackwell.


Repository Staff Only: item control page