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Abstract

In studying folk psychology, cognitive and developmental psychologists have mainly focused on how people conceive of non-experiential states, such as beliefs and desires. As a result, we know very little about how the non-philosophers (or the folk) understand the mental states that philosophers typically classify as being phenomenally conscious. In particular, it is not known whether the folk even tend to classify mental states in terms of their being or not being phenomenally conscious in the first place. Things have changed dramatically in the last few years, however, with a flurry of ground-breaking research by psychologists and experimental philosophers. In this article, I will review this work, carefully distinguishing between two questions: First, are the ascriptions that the folk make with regard to the mental states that philosophers classify as phenomenally conscious related to their decisions about whether morally right or wrong action has been done to an entity? Second, do the folk tend to classify mental states in the way that philosophers do, distinguishing between mental states that are phenomenally conscious and mental states that are not phenomenally conscious?