Ned Joel Block (born 1942) is an American philosopher working in the field of the philosophy of mind who has made important contributions to matters of consciousness and cognitive science. In 1971, he obtained his Ph.D. from Harvard University under Hilary Putnam. He went to Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) as an assistant professor of philosophy (1971-1977), worked as associate professor of philosophy (1977-1983), professor of philosophy (1983-1996) and served as chair of the philosophy section (1989-1995). He has, since 1996, been a professor in the departments of philosophy and psychology at New York University (NYU).

Block is noted for presenting the Blockhead argument against the Turing Test as a test of intelligence in a paper titled Psychologism and Behaviorism (1981). He is also known for his criticism of functionalism, arguing that a system with the same functional states as a human is not necessarily conscious. In his more recent work on consciousness, he has made a distinction between phenomenal consciousness and access consciousness, where phenomenal consciousness consists of subjective experience and feelings and access consciousness consists of that information globally available in the cognitive system for the purposes of reasoning, speech and high-level action control. He has argued that access consciousness and phenomenal consciousness might not always coincide in human beings.

Block has been a judge at the Loebner Prize contest, a contest in the tradition of the Turing Test to determine whether a conversant is a computer or a human.

He is married to the developmental psychologist Susan Carey.


  1. Professor of Philosophy and Psychology at New York University (NYU) 1996 - Current
  2. Chair of the Philosophy Program At Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
  3. Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences
  4. Guggenheim Fellow
  5. Senior Fellow of the Center for the Study of Language and Information
  6. Sloan Foundation Fellow
  7. Recipient of Fellowship from the American Council of Learned Societies
  8. Recipient of Fellowship from the National Science Foundation.
  9. Past President of the Society for Philosophy and Psychology
  10. Past Chair of the MIT Press Cognitive Science Board of Syndics
  11. Past President of the Association for the Scientific Study of Consciousness
  12. Co-editor of The Nature of Consciousness: Philosophical Debates (MIT Press, 1997).

Named Lectures

  • 2004 Petrus Hispanus Lectures, University of Lisbon
  • 2005 Lone Star Tourist (lectures at U. of Texas at Austin, Rice U., U. of Houston, Texas A&M)
  • 2005 Burman Lectures, University of Umeå
  • 2006 Francis W. Gramlich Memorial Lecture, Dartmouth College
  • 2009 Townsend Visitor, University of California at Berkeley
  • 2009 Jack Smart Lecturer, Australian National University
  • 2010 Royal Institute of Philosophy Annual Lecture
  • 2010 Lansdowne Lecturer, University of Victoria
  • 2010 Josiah Royce Lectures, Brown University
  • 2011 Thalheimer Lectures, Johns Hopkins University
  • 2012 William James Lectures, Harvard University
  • 2012 Rudolf Carnap Lectures (with Susan Carey), Ruhr-Universität Bochum
  • 2012 Immanuel Kant Lectures, Stanford University
  • 2013 John Locke Lectures, Oxford University
  • 2013 Jean Nicod Prize and lecture series, École Normale Supérieure, Paris
  • 2014 Nadine Andreas Lectures, Minnesota State University
  • 2014 New Crop Visitor, University of California at Berkeley
  • 2014 Kim Young-Jung Memorial Lectures, Seoul National University
  • 2015 José Gaos Lectures, Instituto de Investigaciones Filosóficas, National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM)
  • 2015 Marc Jeannerod Lecture, University of Antwerp
  • 2016 Sanders Lecture at the American Philosophical Association
  • 2016 Ernst Robert Curtius Lecture Series, Universität Bonn
  • 2017 Heidelberger Kompaktseminar, Universität Heidelberg