Keywords: Automatic Behavior, Deliberate Action, Global Neural Workspace, Interpretive Sensory-Access Theory, Modularity of the Mind, Sensory-Based Theory of Conscious Thinking.
In this article a theoretical framework is outlined within which it is possible to specify a broad enough notion of action that would include both non-deliberative (or ‘automatic’) actions and deliberate actions. We begin with some attempts to come to deal with the problem of the computational intractability of thought, and argue that the Global Neural Workspace (GNW) theory of consciousness is a first step towards a solution. We then introduce Peter Carruthers’ sensory-based theory of conscious thinking that builds on the GNW theory to make a distinction between unconscious intuitive processes and conscious reflective processes. Such distinction – we conclude – affords to go beyond the traditional contrast between automatic behavior and intelligent action.