HOR and FOR theories


Higher-order and first-order representationalism

Since the theory of consciousness aims to answer both questions (a) and (b), representation may play a role in answering either question. Indeed, philosophers have appealed to representation in answering both questions.

A theory which appeals to representation in answering question (a) (Rosenthal 2002; Kriegel and Williford 2006; Lycan 1996) would take the following general form: for a mental episode to be a certain way for its subject is just for the episode to be represented to the subject as being that way: for the subject to undergo some mental episode which is correct as a representation if, and only if, the episode is that way. Such an answer is sometimes referred to as higher-order representationalism.

Alternatives to higher-order representationalism are legion. For instance, there is the view that for a mental episode to be a certain way for its subject is: for it just to be that way (assuming, of course, that the feature is a possible phenomenal character in accord with the answer to (b)); or for the episode’s being that way to be in a position to play a central role in its subject’s cognition (for it to be “poised”: Tye 2000); or for the episode’s particular instance of being that way to have a special conscious “glow” which cannot be understood in more basic terms; or for its being that way to be within the subject’s perspective in some way not compatible with the representational theory of perspective.

A theory which appeals to representation in answering question (b) (Siewert 1998; Tye 2000; Byrne 2001; Chalmers 2005), would take something like the following form: a feature may be a phenomenal character only if it is a representational property. Such an answer is sometimes referred to as first-order representationalism.

Alternatives to first-order representationalism are also legion. For instance, there is the view that any feature which a mental episode can have can be a phenomenal character, assuming it and the episode together meet the condition mandated in the answer to (a); various familiar physicalist and functionalist answers—e.g., that the phenomenal characters are certain special brain features [functionalist accounts of consciousness]; the view that a property is a possible phenomenal character only if that property is of the special conscious type, a type which cannot be understood in more basic terms; and the view, once again, that some nonrepresentational properties characterizing a subject’s perspective are phenomenal characters.

via: http://individual.utoronto.ca/benj/rep.pdf

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