Behavioral and Brain Sciences

Short Communication

Consciousness, higher-order thought, and stimulus reinforcement

José Luis Bermúdez a1
a1 Department of Philosophy, University of Stirling, Stirling FK9 4LA, Scotland


Rolls defends a higher-order thought theory of phenomenal consciousness, mapping the distinction between conscious and non-conscious states onto a distinction between two types of action and corresponding neural pathways. Only one type of action involves higher-order thought and consequently consciousness. This account of consciousness has implausible consequences for the nature of stimulus-reinforcement learning.