Time and the Decider - David Spurrett (University of KwaZulu-Natal)

Speaker: David Spurrett

I characterise a family of views about the implementation of action selection as ‘Central Banker’ accounts. Central Bankers are top level executives for cognitive processes of selection. Their activities are often described in economic or financial terms, as maximising something, or evaluating options in a common currency. Key Central Banker commitments are baked into some of our most important theories of selection, learning, foraging and decision.

One of the main arguments Dennett offers against what he calls Cartesian Materialism and the ‘Cartesian Theater’ model of consciousness is relativistic. The fact that spatially separated processes travelling at finite speeds cannot always be placed into a determinate time-ordering means that there can be no fact of the matter about the boundary of the Cartesian Theater. I put this argument template to work thinking about processes of selection and decision. The considerations that Dennett thinks count against Cartesian Theaters count against Central Bankers, at least in natural agents with brains and bodies like ours.

Central Banker views are sometimes good idealizations of slow or otherwise restricted selection processes, but cannot provide a general account of embodied animal selection. The most promising alternative is something like a multiple drafts model of selection.

Date & time

Thu 18 Aug 2022, 2:00pm to 3:30pm


Auditorium, Level 1, RSSS building, 146 Ellery Crescent, Acton, ACT 2601


David Spurrett (University of KwaZulu-Natal)


Sarita Rosenstock


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