Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences

, Volume 11, Issue 3, pp 309-334

First online:

Phenomenal consciousness, attention and accessibility

  • Tobias SchlichtAffiliated withInstitut für Philosophie II, Ruhr-Universität Bochum Email author 

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This article re-examines Ned Block‘s (1997, 2007) conceptual distinction between phenomenal consciousness and access consciousness. His argument that we can have phenomenally conscious representations without being able to cognitively access them is criticized as not being supported by evidence. Instead, an alternative interpretation of the relevant empirical data is offered which leaves the link between phenomenology and accessibility intact. Moreover, it is shown that Block’s claim that phenomenology and accessibility have different neural substrates is highly problematic in light of empirical evidence. Finally, his claim that there can be phenomenology without cognitive accessibility is at odds with his endorsement of the 'same-order-theory' of consciousness.


Consciousness Cognitive access Attention Working memory Global workspace Neural correlate of consciousness