Philosophy, Psychology and Neuroscience

The Evidence for Phenomenal Consciousness In The Absence of Access Consciousness

Following Ned Block, many people have drawn a distinction between phenomenal consciousness and access consciousness. When a state is phenomenally conscious, there is something it is like to be in that state, and when a state is access conscious, the contents of the state are available for use by a subject in reasoning action and reporting. Since Block made this conceptual distinction, there have been questions raised about the possibility of having access consciousness without phenomenal consciousness, or vice versa, and various cases, have been held up as putative examples of one or the other. This paper is concerned with the potential evidence we might have for saying of a given case, that phenomenal consciousness is present, despite a lack of access consciousness, and the worry that I will raise, is that there is no independent test for phenomenal consciousness, aside from access consciousness.