Skip to main content

Are there borderline cases of consciousness?

Tuesday, November 29, 2022, 3:40 pm – 5:20 pm

This colloquium talk is planned as an in-person and online event. Registration is only required for non-CEU members. Please check the COVID safety rules here to enter the building.


If a mental state is "borderline" conscious, there is no determinate fact of the matter about whether there is something it's like to be in that state. Michael Tye has recently argued that there are compelling reasons for thinking there are borderline conscious states, and also compelling reasons for thinking there cannot be any, leading to a paradox. However, the reasons offered on both sides are far from compelling. For "gradualists" about consciousness, our inability to catch borderline conscious states in the act calls for explanation, but various gradualism-friendly explanations are potentially viable. Meanwhile, for the other side - the "sharpists" about consciousness - the prevalence of vague concepts in current theories of consciousness just points to the incompleteness of these theories, not to the fundamentally vague nature of consciousness. I will ask what sort of evidence might shift the balance in one direction or another on this issue.


Interested in receiving updates about the events of the Department of Philosophy? Sign-up to its mailing list here.