Rosenthal's Representationalism

In Josh Weisberg (ed.), Qualitative Consciousness: Themes from the Philosophy of David Rosenthal. Cambridge (2022)
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David Rosenthal explains conscious mentality in terms of two independent, though complementary, theories—the higher-order thought (“HOT”) theory of consciousness and quality-space theory (“QST”) about mental qualities. It is natural to understand this combination of views as constituting a kind of representationalism about experience—that is, a version of the view that an experience’s conscious character is identical with certain of its representational properties. At times, however, Rosenthal seems to resist this characterization of his view. We explore here whether and to what extent it makes sense to construe Rosenthal’s views as representationalist. Our goal is not merely terminological—discerning how best to use the expression ‘representationalism’. Rather, we argue that understanding Rosenthal’s account as a kind of representationalism permits us not only to make sense of broader debates within the philosophy of mind, but also to extend and clarify aspects of the view itself.

Author Profiles

Richard Brown
LaGuardia Community College (CUNY)
Jacob Berger
Lycoming College


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