Being in the workspace, from a neural point of view: comments on Peter Carruthers, 'On central cognition'

Philosophical Studies 170 (1):163-174 (2014)
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In his rich and provocative paper, Peter Carruthers announces two related theses: (a) a positive thesis that “central cognition is sensory based, depending on the activation and deployment of sensory images of various sorts” (Carruthers 2013) and (b) a negative thesis that the “central mind does not contain any workspace within which goals, decisions, intentions, or non-sensory judgments can be active” (Carruthers 2013). These are striking claims suggesting that a natural view about cognition, namely that explicit theoretical reasoning involves direct operations over beliefs, is wrong. Our beliefs, on this natural view, interact with each other to yield new beliefs. If Carruthers is right, beliefs have only an indirect or mediated influence in cognition with sensory states playing the direct role. I think it an important feature of Carruthers’ discussion that he draws support from work on the neural circuits and mechanisms that subserve these processes. In what follows, I want to regis

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Wayne Wu
Carnegie Mellon University


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