High on the Hog: What is Higher Order in the Higher Order Global States (HOGS) Approach to Consciousness?
Professor Alan Thomas (Tilburg University)

October 7, 2013, 7:00pm - 8:00pm
Centre for Philosophical Psychology, University of Antwerp

Lange Winkjelstraat

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Abstract: Robert Van Gulick has developed, as a new option in the dialectic between First Order Representationalist and Higher Order Theories of consciousness (in either HOP or HOT variants) a view that explains consciousness in terms of higher order global states (HOGS). The HOGS approach takes the distinction between lower order and higher order states to be a matter of degree, not of kind: consciousness involves a lower order state being integrated into a more global representation. This paper considers two interpretations of HOGS theory, one reductionist and one non-reductionist. It is argued that while, in one sense, HOGS theory shows that the language of “levels” is an interpretative artefact, it is an indispensable fiction in theorising about consciousness. Van Gulick plausibly specifies various cognitive tasks that are only discharged at his “higher order” level; this paper focuses not on the (lower order) informational basis from which the concepts deployed in these tasks are extracted, but on the (higher order) resources that the system has to have in order to extract them. I will argue that this supports a non-reductionist reading of the HOGS project.

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