Consciousness is Not a Relational Property

I’m Back! At least for the next five days until I go to Vegas for the ASSC on Friday for some more HOT Fun in the Summertime!

Wow, what a trip!!! Toronto is much nicer than I thought it would be, and the East Coast is truely beautiful this time of year (the highlight for me was the saltwater pool in Kennebunkport…almost like being in the ocean in Hawaii, or Jamaica or something, nice!)…but it is good to be back in Brooklyn…

Anyways, here is the passage from p. 211 of Consciousness and Mind that I mentioned in the previous post (Consciousness, Relational Properties, and Higher-Order Theories)

Since there can be something it’s like for one to be in a state with particular mental qualities even if no such state occurs, a mental state’s being conscious is not strictly speaking a relational property of that state. A state’s being conscious consists in its being a state one is conscious of onself as being in. Still, it is convienent to speak loosely of the property of a state’s being conscious as relational so as to stress that it is in any case not an intrinsic property of mental states.

’nuff said? This is the real reason that Rosenthal’s view is not targeted by objections like Pete Mandik’s Unicorn argument, or the common objection from the possibility of the HOT occuring in the absence of the first-order state, or as I argued, from Uriah’s charge that higher-order theories, like Rosenthals’s, that claim that the first-order state does not acquire a new property (i.e. of being a conscious state) are committed to the claim that consciousness is epiphenomenal.

I agree that the confusion is due mostly to Rosenthal’s ‘loose way of speaking’ and his reluctance to disabuse people of this intuitive picture of the higher-order thought theory. This is at least in part because this way of thinking of the theory agrees better with our common sense conception of how things like this should work. This, as I have already said, is yet another reason to prefer K-HOTs to Q-HOTs. 

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