Consciousness: Essays from a Higher-Order Perspective

Consciousness: Essays from a Higher-Order Perspective

Consciousness: Essays from a Higher-Order Perspective

Consciousness: Essays from a Higher-Order Perspective


Peter Carruthers's essays on consciousness and related issues have had a substantial impact on the field, and many of his best are now collected here in revised form. Together they develop, defend, and explore the implications of Carruthers's distinctive theory of experiential consciousness; they discuss the differences between conscious experiencing and conscious thinking; and, controversially, they consider what would follow, either for morality or for comparative psychology, ifit should turn out that animals lack conscious experiences. This collection will be of great interest to anyone working in philosophy of mind or cognitive science.


The present book collects together and revises ten of my previously published essays on consciousness, preceded by a newly written introduction, and containing a newly written chapter on the explanatory advantages of my approach. Most of the essays are quite recent. Three, however, pre-date my 2000 book, Phenomenal Consciousness: A Naturalistic Theory. (These are Chapters 3 , and 9 .) They are reproduced here, both for their intrinsic interest, and because there isn't really much overlap with the writing in that earlier book. Taken together, the essays in the present volume significantly extend, modify, elaborate, and discuss the implications of the theory of consciousness expounded in my 2000 book.

Since the essays in the present volume were originally intended to stand alone, and to be read independently, there is sometimes some overlap in content amongst them. (Many of them contain a couple-of-pages sketch of the dispositional higher-order thought theory that I espouse, for example.) I have made no attempt to eradicate these overlaps, since some readers may wish just to read a chapter here and there, rather than to work through the book from cover to cover. But readers who do adopt the latter strategy may want to do a little judicious skimming whenever it seems to them to be appropriate.

Each of the previously published essays has been revised for style. I have also corrected minor errors, and minor clarifications, elaborations, and cross-references have been inserted. Some of the essays have been revised more significantly for content. Wherever this is so, I draw the reader's attention to it in a footnote.

I have stripped out my acknowledgements of help and criticism received from all of the previously published papers. Since help received on one essay may often have ramified through others, but in a way that didn't call for explicit thanks, it seems more appropriate to list all of my acknowledgements here. I am therefore grateful for the advice and/or penetrating criticisms of the following colleagues: Colin Allen, David Archard, Murat Aydede, George Botterill, Marc Bracke, Jeffrey Bub, David Chalmers, Ken Cheng, Lindley Darden, Daniel Dennett, Anthony Dickinson, Zoltan Dienes, Fred Dretske, Susan Dwyer, Keith Frankish, Mathias Frisch, Rocco Gennaro, Susan Granger, Robert Heeger, Christopher Hookway, Frank Jackson, David Jehle, Richard Joyce, Rosanna Keefe, Simon Kirchin, Robert Kirk, Uriah Kriegel, Stephen Laurence, Robert Lurz, Bill Lycan, Jessica Pfeifer, Paul Pietroski, Georges Rey, Mark Sacks, Adam Shriver, Robert Stern, Scott Sturgeon, Mike Tetzlaff, Michael Tye, Carol Voeller, Leif Wenar, Tim Williamson, and Jo Wolff.

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