Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name





Jesse Prinz

Committee Members

Eric Mandelbaum

Shaun Nichols

John Greenwood

Felipe De Brigard

Subject Categories

Cognitive Neuroscience | Philosophy of Mind | Philosophy of Science


Working memory, central cognition, cognitive architecture, consciousness, first-order theories of consciousness


In both philosophy and the sciences of the mind there is a shared commitment to the idea that there is a center—the seat of consciousness, the source of deliberation and reflection, and the core of personal identity—in the mind. My dissertation challenges this deeply entrenched view. I review the empirical literature on working memory, psychology’s best candidate for the workspace of the mind, and argue that it is not a natural kind and cannot inform these central cognitive processes. This deflationary view directly imperils many naturalistic theories of consciousness that rely on working memory, which are reviewed in this project. This dissertation thus serves as the necessary first negative step required to begin the process of articulating socially-embedded accounts of many central cognitive processes that dominate the contemporary philosophical literature, including consciousness and reasoning.

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