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The evolution of consciousness

By Peter Carruthers

Abstract

How might consciousness have evolved? Unfortunately for the prospects of providing a convincing answer to this question, there is no agreed account of what consciousness is. So any attempt at an answer will have to fragment along a number of different lines of enquiry. More fortunately, perhaps, there is general agreement that a number of distinct notions of consciousness need to be distinguished from one another; and there is also broad agreement as to which of these is particularly problematic - namely phenomenal consciousness, or the kind of conscious mental state which it is like something to have, which has a distinctive subjective feel or phenomenology (henceforward referred to as p-consciousness). I shall survey the prospects for an evolutionary explanation of p-consciousness, on a variety of competing accounts of its nature. My goal is to use evolutionary considerations to adjudicate between some of those accounts

Topics: Evolutionary Psychology, Philosophy of Mind
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Year: 2000
DOI identifier: 10.1080/15294145.2000.10773320
OAI identifier: oai:cogprints.org:1205
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