The Explanatory Status of the Sensorimotor Approach to Phenomenal Consciousness, and Its Appeal to Cognition

  • J. Kevin O’ReganEmail author
Part of the Studies in Applied Philosophy, Epistemology and Rational Ethics book series (SAPERE, volume 15)


This paper starts by providing a succinct overview of the sensorimotor approach to phenomenal consciousness, describing its two parts: the part that concerns the quality of sensations, and the part that concerns whether or not such qualities are (consciously) experienced. The paper goes on to discuss the explanatory status of the approach, claiming that the approach does not simply “explain away” qualia, but that on the contrary, it provides a way of thinking about qualia that explains why they are the way they are, stimulates scientific paradigms and produces testable predictions. A final part of the paper examines the relation of the theory to radical enactivism, claiming that some kind of “higher order” cognitive mechanism similar to that used in Higher Order Thought theories of consciousness is needed to account for what is usually meant by being conscious of something.


Qualia phenomenal consciousness radical enactivism Higher Order Thought sensorimotor theory 


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© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Laboratoire Psychologie de la PerceptionUniversité Paris DescartesParisFrance

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