, Volume 80, Issue 1, pp 57–76 | Cite as

Strong Neurophilosophy and the Matter of Bat Consciousness: A Case Study

Original Article


In “What is it like to be boring and myopic?” Kathleen Akins offers an interesting, empirically driven, argument for thinking that there is nothing that it is like to be a bat. She suggests that bats are “boring” in the sense that they are governed by behavioral scripts and simple, non-representational, control loops, and are best characterized as biological automatons. Her approach has been well received by philosophers sympathetic to empirically informed philosophy of mind. But, despite its influence, her work has not met with any critical appraisal. It is argued that a reconsideration of the empirical results shows that bats are not boring automatons, driven by short input–output loops, instincts, and reflexes. Grounds are provided for thinking that bats satisfy a range of philosophically and scientifically interesting elaborations of the general idea that consciousness is best understood in terms of representational functions. A more complete examination of bat sensory capabilities suggests there is something that it is like after all. The discussion of bats is also used to develop an objection to strongly neurophilosophical approaches to animal consciousness.


Representational Content Phenomenal Concept Phenomenal Consciousness Phenomenal Experience Negative Constraint 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



I am in debt to Chris Stephens for his comments and criticism, as well as Brock Fenton and Johan Eklöf for lending their expertise and helping me cope with the empirical literature. I also thank the anonymous referees for their insightful feedback.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Florida Int’l UniversityMiamiUSA

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