Analyzing and merging theories of consciousness

  • TWCF Number:

    0484

  • Project Duration:

    1 September 2020 - 31 August 2023

  • Core Funding Area:

    Big Questions

  • Initiative:

    Accelerating Research on Consciousness

  • Region:

    North America

  • Amount Awarded:

    $213,724

Ned Block

New York University

Led by Ned Block, this project seeks to determine whether two leading theories of consciousness may be integrated into a single account that best fits new scientific evidence. It will also give a postdoctoral fellow the opportunity to work with leading experts in consciousness research.

The fellow will work with advocates of cognitive and non-cognitive accounts, as well as the co-directors of the NYU Center for Mind, Brain and Consciousness. Together, they will study how experiments bear on leading theories of consciousness, such as the first-order and higher-order theories. The fellow will give a philosophical analysis of how experiments apply to different versions of these theories. They will also investigate whether aspects of these theories can be integrated or merged to account for the data.

To carry out this work, the fellow will review published literature in the field and engage with leading advocates of respective theories. The project will involve a large amount of collaboration, helping dissolve barriers between factions. If successful, this project will provide greater clarity about the space of potential theories of consciousness. By pointing out similarities and differences among leading theories, it will lead to a fuller understanding of how they can be experimentally tested. It might also show potential for two or more theories of consciousness to merge.

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