Does consciousness come in degrees? If the answer is ‘yes’, then it makes sense to say that some creatures (or mental states) are more conscious than others. If the answer is ‘no’, then such claims are either false or incoherent. This paper (1) argues that the principal objection to the idea of degrees of consciousness conflates questions about degrees with questions about indeterminacy, (2) examines the semantics of ‘more conscious than’ expressions, (3) develops a general analysis of what it is for a degreed property to count as degrees of consciousness, and (4) applies the analysis to various theories of consciousness. I argue that most theories entail that consciousness comes in degrees, though what exactly degrees of consciousness are varies across different theories. This means that claims about degrees of consciousness should be treated as substantive hypotheses open to confirmation and falsification, rather than as obvious truths or conceptual confusions.
How to attend
This is a read-ahead seminar. The meetings have an hybrid format. We meet in person in GM 452 and digitally on Zoom (Zoom login required).
The meeting link, along with a copy of the paper to be discussed, will be made available in advance via the mailing list.