Consciousness and Theory of Mind: a Common Theory?

Consciousness and Theory of Mind: a Common Theory?

New Version: 10/15/2013

Higher-Order Representational (HOR) theories maintain that phenomenally conscious states are those that are the target of some kind of higher-order representation. HOR theories commonly hold that metacognition, access to some of our mental states, is a necessary condition for phenomenal consciousness. HOR theories tipically maintain that mindreading (our ability to ascribe mental states to others) is prior to metacognition.

My purpose in this paper is to show the implausibility of a theory of consciousness according to which having phenomenal conscious experience depends on having a theory of mind (Carruthers). I argue that consciousness is necessary for being able to ascribe certain mental states to others and therefore prior, at least, to some mind-reading capacities.

This objection may be extended to any HOR theory, on the plausible assumption that metacognition depends on mindreading. To block this conclusion HOR theories should reject the view that metacognition depends on the the mechanisms that evolved for metacognition and arguable endorse a simulation theory of mind.

I will present this paper at the XIV taller d’Investigaciò en Filosofia and at the SOPHA 2012.

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