, Volume 195, Issue 5, pp 1969–1991 | Cite as

The central executive system

  • Denis Buehler
Article Type S.I. : Neuroscience and Its Philosophy


Executive functioning has been said to bear on a range of traditional philosophical topics, such as consciousness, thought, and action. Surprisingly, philosophers have not much engaged with the scientific literature on executive functioning. This lack of engagement may be due to several influential criticisms of that literature by Daniel Dennett, Alan Allport, and others. In this paper I argue that more recent research on executive functioning shows that these criticisms are no longer valid. The paper clears the way to a more fruitful philosophical engagement with findings on the central executive system.


Executive functions Psychology Neuroscience Explanation 



Special thanks to Tyler Burge. Thanks also to Felipe De Brigard and other participants in a workshop at UNAM-IIF, Mexico City, August 2016. I am, finally, grateful for detailed feedback from Gualtiero Piccinini and two anonymous referees.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Antwerp, Center for Philosophical PsychologyAntwerpBelgium

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