False measures in the science and philosophy of consciousness
James Stazicker (King's College London)

November 28, 2023, 5:00pm - 6:30pm
Language, Epistemology, Metaphysics and Mind Group

Room G37
Senate House
United Kingdom

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  • Institute of Philosophy


King's College London
King's College London
King's College London

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Abstract: According  to a widespread contemporary view of the mind, consciousness plays less  of a role than was traditionally assumed: much of perception, decision  and action occur independently of our conscious experiences. I will  criticise one central line of scientific support for this view, which  measures consciousness by a subject’s capacity to identify and  discriminate their experiences and actions. This style of measurement  underestimates consciousness, and is not justified even if we grant  that, necessarily, subjects are aware of their own conscious  experiences. In search of a better measure, I look to philosophical  accounts of the first-order, demonstrative thoughts most immediately  related to conscious perception and action. But here we find the same  problem: our best philosophical account individuates these thoughts by  subjects’ capacity to discriminate their experiences. I trace the  problem to broadly Fregean criteria for individuating thoughts, propose a  related solution, and discuss implications for the science of  consciousness.

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Swinburne University of Technology
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