Consciousness, Attention, and Working Memory: an Empirical Evaluation of Prinz's Theory of Consciousness

Journal of Consciousness Studies 21 (9-10):7-29 (2014)

David Barrett
University of Arkansas, Fayetteville
A popular issue in mind is to explain why conscious mental states are conscious. Prinz (2012) defends three claims in an effort to make such an explanation: (i)mental states become conscious when and only when we attend to them; (ii)attention is a process by which mental states become available to working memory; so (iii) mental states are conscious when and only when they become available to working memory. Here I attack Prinz's theory, made explicit in (iii), by showing that there is strong empirical reason to doubt each of the foregoing claims. I rehearse defenses of the claims Prinz has made, as well as possible replies he does not explicitly employ, and show how they are inadequate to save his view.
Keywords Consciousness  Attention  Working Memory
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