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Measures of Consciousness



Consciousness is now a hot topic in both philosophy and the cognitive sciences, yet there is much controversy over how to measure it. First, it is not clear whether biased subjective reports should be taken as adequate for measuring consciousness, or if more objective measures are required. Ways to benefit from the advantages of both these measures in the form of ‘Type 2’ metacognitive measures are under development, but face criticism. Research into neurophysiological measures of consciousness is potentially very valuable, but often hindered by its dependence on behavioural measures that are themselves controversial. Newer informational measures are theoretically interesting, but as yet not easily applicable, while other measures of consciousness are designed for application in clinical cases (e.g. vegetative state). Although much optimism accompanies research into measures of consciousness, the controversies and methodological problems reviewed here suggest that making progress in this area may be more difficult than is often acknowledged.