The value of consciousness

Neil Levy*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 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-consious, 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
Externally publishedYes


  • Ethics
  • Functionalism
  • Moral value
  • Phenomenal consciousness
  • Representationalism

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