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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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Conscious Thinking: Language Or Elimination?

Conscious Thinking: Language Or Elimination?

(p.115) CHAPTER 7 Conscious Thinking: Language Or Elimination?

Peter Carruthers (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

Shifts focus from conscious experience to conscious thought. It develops a dilemma. Either the use of natural language sentences in ‘inner speech’ is constitutive of (certain kinds of) thinking, as opposed to being merely expressive of it. Or there may really be no such thing as conscious propositional thinking at all, and eliminativism about conscious thinking is true. While the author makes clear my preference for the first horn of this dilemma, and explains how such a claim could possibly be true, this is not really defended in any depth, and the final choice is left to the reader. Nor does the chapter commit itself to any particular theory of conscious thinking, beyond defending the claim that, in order to count as conscious, a thought must give rise to the knowledge that we are entertaining it in a way that is neither inferential nor interpretative.

Keywords:   conscious experience, conscious thought, eliminativism, inner speech, non-inferential knowledge

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