Review of Philosophy and Psychology 12 (2):199-225 (2021)

Javier Gomez-Lavin
York University
Working memory is a foundational construct of cognitive psychology, where it is thought to be a capacity that enables us to keep information in mind and to use that information to support goal directed behavior. Philosophers have recently employed working memory to explain central cognitive processes, from consciousness to reasoning. In this paper, I show that working memory cannot meet even a minimal account of natural kindhood, as the functions of maintenance and manipulation of information that tie working memory models and theories together do not have a coherent or univocal realizer in the brain. As such, working memory cannot explain central cognition. Rather, I argue that working memory merely redescribes its target phenomenon, and in doing so it obfuscates relevant distinctions amongst the many ways that brains like ours retain and transform information in the service of cognition. While this project ultimately erodes the explanatory role that working memory has played in our understanding of cognition, it simultaneously prompts us to evaluate the function of natural kinds within cognitive science, and signals the need for a productive pessimism to frame our future study of cognitive categories.
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DOI 10.1007/s13164-020-00507-4
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References found in this work BETA

The Varieties of Reference.Gareth Evans - 1982 - Oxford: Oxford University Press.
The Principles of Psychology.William James - 1890 - London, England: Dover Publications.
The Modularity of Mind.Robert Cummins & Jerry Fodor - 1983 - Philosophical Review 94 (1):101.

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