Philosophical Studies

, Volume 161, Issue 1, pp 131–140 | Cite as

Lehrer on consciousness



Keith Lehrer distinguishes three kinds of questions about consciousness: scientific questions, metaphysical questions, and epistemological questions. He leaves the scientific questions to the scientists. He articulates and answers the peculiar epistemological questions posed by consciousness. And he boldly contends that no metaphysical questions about consciousness remain, once the epistemological questions have been answered. This is an astonishing claim. What happened to the metaphysical questions? Were they pseudo-questions? Were they epistemological questions masquerading as metaphysical ones? And isn’t it possible that Lehrer’s epistemological account of consciousness raises metaphysical questions of its own? I will argue that Lehrer’s account of consciousness does leave a metaphysical remainder. To deal with this remainder, Lehrer could try to expand his explanatory framework—but this would involve to a substantial revision of his current views. I end with a speculative proposal that might allow Lehrer acknowledge all the points raised in this paper, but without forcing him to revise his account of consciousness in a substantial way.


Consciousness Exemplarization Functional role Subjectivity Qualia Hard problem 


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Notre DameNotre DameUSA

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