Cognitive science and phenomenal consciousness: A dilemma, and how to avoid it

Philosophical Psychology 10 (3):269-86 (1997)
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Abstract

When it comes to applying computational theory to the problem of phenomenal consciousness, cognitive scientists appear to face a dilemma. The only strategy that seems to be available is one that explains consciousness in terms of special kinds of computational processes. But such theories, while they dominate the field, have counter-intuitive consequences; in particular, they force one to accept that phenomenal experience is composed of information processing effects. For cognitive scientists, therefore, it seems to come down to a choice between a counter-intuitive theory or no theory at all. We offer a way out of this dilemma. We argue that the computational theory of mind doesn't force cognitive scientists to explain consciousness in terms of computational processes, as there is an alternative strategy available: one that focuses on the representational vehicles that encode information in the brain. This alternative approach to consciousness allows us to do justice to the standard intuitions about phenomenal experience, yet remain within the confines of cognitive science

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Author Profiles

Gerard O'Brien
University of Adelaide
Jonathan Opie
University of Adelaide

Citations of this work

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Putting content into a vehicle theory of consciousness.Gerard O'Brien & Jonathan Opie - 1999 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 22 (1):175-196.
What's new here?Bruce Mangan - 1999 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 22 (1):160-161.

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