The Role of Control in a Science of Consciousness: Causality, Regulation and Self- sustainment

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There is quite a bit of disagreement in cognitive science regarding the role that consciousness and control play in explanations of how people do what they do. The purpose of the present paper is to do the following: (1) examine the theoretical choice points that have lead theorists to conflicting positions, (2) examine the philosophical and empirical problems different theories encounter as they address the issue of conscious agency, and (3) provide an integrative framework (Wild Systems Theory) that addresses these problems and potentially naturalizes conscious agency. It does so by grounding conscious and control in the notion of self-sustaining energy-transformation systems (i.e., living systems), versus computational or self- organizing systems, as is the case in information processing theory and dynamical systems theory, respectively. Given its assertion that content (and consciousness) emerges in self-sustaining systems, Wild Systems Theory may also provide a sound theoretical basis for a science of consciousness in general.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Psychology, Campus Box 4620, Illinois State University, Normal, IL 61760-4620, USA., Email:

Publication date: January 1, 2007

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