David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
Behavioral and Brain Sciences 22 (1):127-48 (1999)
When cognitive scientists apply computational theory to the problem of phenomenal consciousness, as many of them have been doing recently, there are two fundamentally distinct approaches available. Either consciousness is to be explained in terms of the nature of the representational vehicles the brain deploys; or it is to be explained in terms of the computational processes defined over these vehicles. We call versions of these two approaches vehicle and process theories of consciousness, respectively. However, while there may be space for vehicle theories of consciousness in cognitive science, they are relatively rare. This is because of the influence exerted, on the one hand, by a large body of research which purports to show that the explicit representation of information in the brain and conscious experience are dissociable, and on the other, by the classical computational theory of mind – the theory that takes human cognition to be a species of symbol manipulation. But two recent developments in cognitive science combine to suggest that a reappraisal of this situation is in order. First, a number of theorists have recently been highly critical of the experimental methodologies employed in the dissociation studies – so critical, in fact, it’s no longer reasonable to assume that the dissociability of conscious experience and explicit representation has been adequately demonstrated. Second, classicism, as a theory of human cognition, is no longer as dominant in cognitive science as it once was. It now has a lively competitor in the form of connectionism; and connectionism, unlike classicism, does have the computational resources to support a robust vehicle theory of consciousness. In this paper we develop and defend this connectionist vehicle theory of consciousness. It takes the form of the following simple empirical hypothesis: phenomenal experience consists in the explicit representation of information in neurally realized PDP networks. This hypothesis leads us to re-assess some common wisdom about consciousness, but, we will argue, in fruitful and ultimately plausible ways
|Keywords||classicism computation connectionism consciousness dissociation mental representation phenomenal experience|
|Categories||categorize this paper)|
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
|Through your library|
References found in this work BETA
No references found.
Citations of this work BETA
Nancy Salay (2008). Thinking Without Global Generalisations: A Cognitive Defence of Moral Particularism. Inquiry 51 (4):390 – 411.
Similar books and articles
Dan Lloyd (1996). Consciousness, Connectionism, and Cognitive Neuroscience: A Meeting of the Minds. Philosophical Psychology 9 (1):61-78.
Michael S. C. Thomas & Anthony P. Atkinson (1999). Quantities of Qualia. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 22 (1):169-170.
Gerard O'Brien (1998). Connectionism, Analogicity and Mental Content. Acta Analytica 22 (22):111-31.
Jonathan Opie (1999). A Defense of Cartesian Materialism. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 59 (4):939 - 963.
Max Velmans (1999). Neural Activation, Information, and Phenomenal Consciousness. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 22 (1):172-173.
Gerard O'Brien & Jonathan Opie (1998). The Disunity of Consciousness. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 76 (3):378-95.
Gerard O'Brien & Jonathan Opie (1999). Putting Content Into a Vehicle Theory of Consciousness. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 22 (1):175-196.
Gerard O'Brien & Jonathan Opie (2001). Connectionist Vehicles, Structural Resemblance, and the Phenomenal Mind. Communication and Cognition: An Interdisciplinary Quarterly Journal 34 (1-2):13-38.
Gerard O'Brien & Jonathan Opie (1997). Cognitive Science and Phenomenal Consciousness: A Dilemma, and How to Avoid It. Philosophical Psychology 10 (3):269-86.
Jonathan Opie & Gerard O'Brien (1999). A Connectionist Theory of Phenomenal Experience. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 22 (1):127-148.
Added to index2009-01-28
Total downloads28 ( #122,026 of 1,780,606 )
Recent downloads (6 months)3 ( #165,698 of 1,780,606 )
How can I increase my downloads?