Friday, July 12, 2013

Tutorial A2: Gennaro

Friday July 12 13:00-16:00

A2: Representational theories of consciousness

Rocco J. Gennaro (Dep’t of Philosophy, University of Southern Indiana)

The notion of ‘representation’ is central to many philosophical theories of consciousness and also figures importantly in psychology and neuroscience. Some questions raised by the role of representation in these fields are: What does it mean to say that a mental state is ‘representational’? What is the difference between a first-order representation and a higher-order (or meta-) representation? This tutorial will begin with a discus- sion of how the concept ‘representation’ is used in the philosophical literature on consciousness. In addition, various senses of ‘conscious’ are distinguished and explained. The key question then becomes: What makes a mental state a conscious mental state? We shall survey a number of leading representational theories of consciousness found in the current literature: First-Order Representational Theory of Consciousness (Tye), Higher-Order Perception (HOP) Theory (Lycan), Higher-Order Thought (HOT) Theory (Rosenthal), Dual Content Theory (Carruthers), and Self-Representational Theory (Kriegel). After the main tenets of each approach are presented, we shall discuss the arguments for and against the theory in question. Significant attention will be paid to well-known objections to each theory, for example, the problem of misrepresentation, the question of animal consciousness, and how these theories might address the “hard problem” of consciousness. Finally, there will be some discussion of how these models might be realized in the brain. Also important is the reduc- tionist motive of most representational theorists: Can any of these theories offer a viable reductionist account of consciousness?

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