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ConsciousnessEssays from a Higher-Order Perspective$
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Peter Carruthers

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780199277360

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: July 2005

DOI: 10.1093/0199277362.001.0001

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Why the Question of Animal Consciousness Might not Matter Very Much

Why the Question of Animal Consciousness Might not Matter Very Much

Chapter:
(p.195) CHAPTER 11 Why the Question of Animal Consciousness Might not Matter Very Much
Source:
Consciousness
Author(s):

Peter Carruthers (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/0199277362.003.0011

Argues that all of the behaviours that we share with non-human animals can, and should, be explained in terms of the first-order, non-phenomenal, contents of our experiences. So, although we do have phenomenally conscious experiences when we act, most of the time it is not by virtue of their being phenomenally conscious that they have their role in causing our actions. In consequence, the fact that my dispositional higher-order thought theory of phenomenal consciousness might withhold such consciousness from most non-human animals should have a minimal impact on comparative psychology. The explanations for the behaviours that we have in common with animals can remain shared also, despite the differences in phenomenally conscious status.

Keywords:   causal role of experience, comparative psychology, dispositional higher-order thought, explanation of action, first-order experience, non-phenomenal experience

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