Confidence Tracks Consciousness

In Joshua Weisberg (ed.), Qualitative Consciousness: Themes from the Philosophy of David Rosenthal (forthcoming)
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Consciousness and confidence seem intimately related. Accordingly, some researchers use confidence ratings as a measure of, or proxy for, consciousness. Rosenthal discusses the potential connections between the two, and rejects confidence as a valid measure of consciousness. He argues that there are better alternatives to get at conscious experiences such as direct subjective reports of awareness (i.e. subjects’ reports of perceiving something or of the degree of visibility of a stimulus). In this chapter, we offer a different perspective. Confidence ratings in general, and metacognitive measures in particular, may offer important advantages over subjective ratings. The arguments we offer here are supported by empirical, practical and socio-strategic considerations. However, we do not suggest consciousness and confidence are interchangeable. We recognize the limitations of confidence ratings in some experimental designs and for some research questions. Nevertheless, we also address a potential conceptual link between consciousness and confidence that stems from Rosenthal’s very own work on mental quality space theory.
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