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Against representational theories of consciousness

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Abstract:

In recent years, the primary focus of many philosophers of mind (though not Fodor) has shifted to consciousness. And a growing number of philosophers, attempting to exploit some of the advances of the previous decade's work on intentionality, are advocating representational theories of consciousness. Representationalists have spent much time defending their characteristic thesis (RT) and have devoted much effort to some of the peculiar problems facing theories of consciousness (examples: inverted spectrum, absent qualia). They have expended precious little energy answering more basic questions like ‘What makes a conscious state a conscious state?', ‘What conditions are necessary and sufficient for consciousness?', and ‘What can be said on behalf of the naturalization of consciousness?’ It is my suspicion, fuelled by the remarks of Armstrong, Lycan and Levine quoted in the paper, that representationalists have thought that these problems are solved (or at least reduced to the corresponding problems of intentionality) if RT is correct. But this, I have argued, is a mistake. It's time for representationalists to address these issues

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Philosophy Department, The University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, Indiana 46556, USA.

Publication date: 1999-01-01

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