The semantics of 'What it's like' and the nature of consciousness

Daniel Stoljar*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    41 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    This paper defends a novel view of 'what it is like'-sentences, according to which they attribute certain sorts of relations - I call them 'affective relations' - that hold between events and individuals. The paper argues in detail for the superiority of this proposal over other views that are prevalent in the literature. The paper further argues that the proposal makes better sense than the alternatives of the widespread use of Nagel's definition of conscious states ('an organism has conscious states if and only if there is something it is like to be that organism') and that it also shows the mistakes in two prominent (but inconsistent) suggestions about the definition when properly understood: first, that it is empty and uninformative, and second, that it leads directly to a substantial claim in the theory of consciousness, namely that an individual is in a conscious state only if the individual is aware (in some way) of their being in that state.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1161-1198
    Number of pages38
    JournalMind
    Volume125
    Issue number500
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2016

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