• In this commentary I criticize David Rosenthal’s higher order thought theory of consciousness . This is one of the best articulated philosophical accounts of consciousness available. The theory is, roughly, that a mental state is conscious in virtue of there being another mental state, namely, a thought to the effect that one is in the first state. I argue that this account is open to the objection that it makes “HOT-zombies” possible, i.e., creatures that token higher order mental states, but n…Read more
  • Consciousness, Accessibility, and the Mesh between Psychology and Neuroscience
    Behavioral and Brain Sciences 30 (5): 481--548. 2007.
    How can we disentangle the neural basis of phenomenal consciousness from the neural machinery of the cognitive access that underlies reports of phenomenal consciousness? We can see the problem in stark form if we ask how we could tell whether representations inside a Fodorian module are phenomenally conscious. The methodology would seem straightforward: find the neural natural kinds that are the basis of phenomenal consciousness in clear cases when subjects are completely confident and we have n…Read more
  • Some like it HOT: Consciousness and higher-order thoughts
    Philosophical Studies 2 (2): 103-29. 1997.
    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
  • Comparing the major theories of consciousness
    In Michael Gazzaniga (ed.), The Cognitive Neurosciences IV, . pp. 1111-1123. 2009.
    This article compares the three frameworks for theories of consciousness that are taken most seriously by neuroscientists, the view that consciousness is a biological state of the brain, the global workspace perspective and an account in terms of higher order states. The comparison features the “explanatory gap” (Nagel, 1974; Levine, 1983) the fact that we have no idea why the neural basis of an experience is the neural basis of that experience rather than another experience or no experience at …Read more
  • Higher-order intentionalism and higher-order acquaintance
    Philosophical Studies 134 (3): 289--324. 2007.
    I argue against such "Relation Intentionalist" theories of consciousness as the higher-order thought and inner sense views on the grounds that they understand a subject's awareness of his or her phenomenal characters to be intentional, like seeming-seeing, rather than "direct", like seeing. The trouble with such views is that they reverse the order of explanation between phenomenal character and intentional awareness. A superior theory of consciousness, based on views expressed by Russell and Pr…Read more
  • Higher-Order Representational theories of consciousness — HORs — primarily seek to explain a mental state’s being conscious in terms of the mental state’s being represented by another mental state. First-Order Representational theories of consciousness — FORs — primarily seek to explain a property’s being phenomenal in terms of the property being represented in experience. Despite differences in both explanans and explananda, HORs and FORs share a reliance on there being such a property as being…Read more
  • David Rosenthal's higher-order thought theory is one of the most widely argued for of the higher-order accounts of consciousness. I argue that Rosenthal vacillates between two models of the HOT theory. First, I argue that these models employ different concepts of 'state consciousness'; the two concepts each refer to mental state tokens, but in virtue of different properties. In one model, the concept of 'state consciousness' is more consistent with how the term is typically used, both by philoso…Read more
  • The appearance of unity: A higher-order interpretation of the unity of consciousness
    Proceedings of the Twenty-Third Annual Conference of The Cognitive Science Society. 2001.
    subjective appearance of unity, but respects unity can be adequately dealt with by the theory. I the actual and potential disunity of the brain will close by briefly considering some worries about processes that underwrite consciousness. eliminativism that often accompany discussions of unity and consciousness