Chapter

Why the Question of Animal Consciousness Might not Matter Very Much

Peter Carruthers

in Consciousness

Published in print May 2005 | ISBN: 9780199277360
Published online July 2005 | e-ISBN: 9780191602597 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/0199277362.003.0011
Why the Question of Animal Consciousness Might not Matter Very Much

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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

Chapter.  9328 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Philosophy of Mind

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