Consciousness: Explaining the Phenomena
Peter Carruthers. Consciousness: Explaining the Phenomena. In D.Walsh (ed.), Naturalism, Evolution and Mind. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001.
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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.