The value of consciousness

Neil Levy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)


Consciousness, or its lack, is often invoked in debates in applied and normative ethics. Conscious beings are typically held to be significantly more morally valuable than non-conscious, so that establishing whether a being is conscious becomes of critical importance. In this paper, I argue that the supposition that phenomenal consciousness explains the value of our experiences or our lives, and the moral value of beings who are conscious, is less well-grounded than is commonly thought. A great deal of what matters to us and about us can be explained by functional and representational properties that may not be sufficient for phenomenal consciousness. I conclude with some reflections on how these claims might affect debates in ethics.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)127 - 138
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Consciousness Studies
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 2014

Cite this