Consciousness, belief, and the group mind hypothesis

Thumbnail Image
9630.pdf(656.36 KB)
Submitted version
Overgaard, Søren
Salice, Alessandro
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Research Projects
Organizational Units
Journal Issue
According to the Group Mind Hypothesis, a group can have beliefs over and above the beliefs of the individual members of the group. Some maintain that there can be group mentality of this kind in the absence of any group-level phenomenal consciousness. We present a challenge to the latter view. First, we argue that a state is not a belief unless the owner of the state is disposed to access the state’s content in a corresponding conscious judgment. Thus, if there is no such thing as group consciousness, then we cannot literally ascribe beliefs to groups. Secondly, we respond to an objection that appeals to the distinction between ‘access consciousness’ and ‘phenomenal consciousness’. According to the objection, the notion of consciousness appealed to in our argument must be access consciousness, whereas our argument is only effective if it is about phenomenal consciousness. In response, we question both parts of the objection. Our argument can still be effective provided there are reasons to believe a system or creature cannot have access consciousness if it lacks phenomenal consciousness altogether. Moreover, our argument for the necessary accessibility to consciousness of beliefs does concern phenomenal consciousness.
Group mind , Belief , Phenomenal consciousness , Access consciousness
Overgaard, S. and Salice, A. (2019) 'Consciousness, belief, and the group mind hypothesis', Synthese, In Press, doi: 10.1007/s11229-019-02152-6
© Springer Nature B.V. 2019. This is a pre-print of an article published in Synthese. The final authenticated version is available online at: