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04/10/2012

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What is consciousness? Ned Block says that informal surveys show that about 50% of people,identify it with what he calls access consciousness and the rest phenomenal consciousness. Seems to me that this ambiguity bedevils the entire literature on fw and consciousness.

Neil, good point. Joshua's experiments use primes that (to my mind) suggest Block's A-consciousness (using 'awareness' language), though the first experiment uses a P-consciousness term (experience) as well. I'd like to see some more experiments on how people understand consciousness (and its connection to free will and responsibility), but I suspect that when people are primed to think of a mental process as being A-conscious, they also assume it in P-conscious, though perhaps not vice-versa. This would help to explain why when people think consciousness is essential for free will, they probably are thinking in terms of A-consciousness, and that means they are also thinking P-consciousness is involved. And that would help explain why information that neither A- nor P-consciousness are involved in an agent's action leads people to lower attributions of free will and responsibility.

Hi Neil,

It sounds like you're proposing an x-phi study . . .

Regarding the A/P-conscious distinction, I agree with Eddy. I'd hypothesize that the folk can talk breezily about consciousness as A or P, but that few would say A-consciousness by itself qualifies as capital C Consciousness. Some philosophers would agree with the folk on this.

That said, in a study like mine some A-language is unavoidable, but I tried to remain hip to the relevant complexities.

Josh, yes I think this should be tested. I think that some ordinary language locutions suggest a- and not p- ("she was conscious that..."). Perhaps people think that all a- stated are also p- states. The scientists' tendency to take reportability as a criterion of phenomenality suggests as much. But it is possible that the folk - like Block - take the states to dissociate.

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