Consciousness inessentialism

Created time
Feb 16, 2023 10:00 AM
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Consciousness inessentialism or ‘You don’t need to understand consciousness in order to simulate human intelligence’

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Consciousness inessentialism is the belief that ‘for any intelligent activity I, performed in any cognitive domain D, even if we (’humans’) do I with conscious accompaniments, I can in principle be done without these conscious accompaniments’.
In other words, imagine that you step on a Lego. You will feel an accompanying pain as your body has a reaction and flinches away. You might even swear or curse somebody. It is probably something-like-to-be-you while you have that reaction. So the scenario is accompanied by some phenomenal properties.
No, the question consciousness inessentialism poses is: could you perform I (flinching away or cursing somebody) without the accompanying phenomenal properties? Or is this connection necessary?

Source: Young, G. (2013) ‘Philosophical Issue 1: Conscious Inessentialism’, in G. Young (ed.) Philosophical Psychopathology: Philosophy without Thought Experiments. London: Palgrave Macmillan UK, pp. 11–24. Available at:
Muehlhauser, L. (2017) ‘2017 Report on Consciousness and Moral Patienthood - Open Philanthropy’, Open Philanthropy, 9 June. Available at: (Accessed: 16 February 2023).