A critique of information processing theories of consciousness

Minds and Machines 5 (1):89-107 (1995)
Abstract
  Information processing theories in psychology give rise to executive theories of consciousness. Roughly speaking, these theories maintain that consciousness is a centralized processor that we use when processing novel or complex stimuli. The computational assumptions driving the executive theories are closely tied to the computer metaphor. However, those who take the metaphor serious — as I believe psychologists who advocate the executive theories do — end up accepting too particular a notion of a computing device. In this essay, I examine the arguments from theoretical computational considerations that cognitive psychologists use to support their general approach in order to show that they make unwarranted assumptions about the processing attributes of consciousness. I then go on to examine the assumptions behind executive theories which grow out of the computer metaphor of cognitive psychology and conclude that we may not be the sort of computational machine cognitive psychology assumes and that cognitive psychology''s approach in itself does not buy us anything in developing theories of consciousness. Hence, the state space in which we may locate consciousness is vast, even within an information processing framework
Keywords Computation  Consciousness  Information  Machine  Psychology  Science
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