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Bayne, T. & Shea, N. (2020), ‘Consciousness, Concepts, and Natural Kinds’, Philosophical Topics 48(1), 65-84.

Citation: Bayne, Tim and Shea, Nicholas (2021) Bayne, T. & Shea, N. (2020), ‘Consciousness, Concepts, and Natural Kinds’, Philosophical Topics 48(1), 65-84. Philisophical Topics, 48 (1). pp. 65-84.

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We have various everyday measures for identifying the presence of consciousness, such as the capacity for verbal report and the intentional control of behaviour. However, there are many contexts in which these measures are difficult (if not impossible) to apply, and even when they can be applied one might have doubts as to their validity in determining the presence/absence of consciousness. Everyday measures for identifying consciousness are particularly problematic when it comes to ‘challenging cases’—human infants, people with brain damage, non-human animals, and AI systems. There is a pressing need to identify measures of consciousness that can be applied to challenging cases. This paper explores one of the most promising strategies for identifying and validating such measures—the natural kind strategy. The paper is in two broad parts. Part I introduces the natural kind strategy, and contrasts it with other influential approaches in the field. Part II considers a number of objections to the approach, arguing that none succeeds.

Creators: Bayne, Tim and Shea, Nicholas (0000-0002-2032-5705) and
Official URL:
Subjects: Philosophy
Keywords: Consciousness, Concepts and Natural Kinds
Divisions: Institute of Philosophy
Collections: London Philosophy Papers
  • 18 November 2021 (accepted)
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