Models vs. theories

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The terms "model of consciousness" and "theory of consciousness" seem not to be employed in any consistent sense in the literature at present. This page first reviews various uses and subsequently aims to develop a convention that can be employed in this wiki. Please refer to Talk:Models vs. Theories for discussion.

Review of contemporary usage

Uses of the term "models"

Following (Seth, 2007)[1], models of consciousness could be defined to be hypotheses that relate conscious experience (or "phenomenal properties"[1]) to the physical domain in general (or "brain properties"[1]). This

Uses of the term "theories"

The same characterization as above also holds true for many "theories of consciousness", e.g. Integrated Information Theory, Global Neuronal Workspace Theory or Higher Order Thought Theory. There does not seem to be a convention at the present as to which term to use.

Developing a convention for this wiki

Given the missing convention on how to use these terms in the literature, the following convention might be useful for this wiki.

Theories of consciousness

We could use the term "theories" to denote hypothesis about how conscious experience relates to the physical domain that claim to be complete, i.e. which, according to their own standards, do not need to be substantially further developed and describe as much as they can or intend to describe.

Models of consciousness

In contrast, we could use the term "model" to denote hypothesis about how conscious experience relates to the physical domain that are not yet intended to be complete or final. Examples are "toy-models", which do not aim for a comprehensive account of some class of phenomena, but rather focus on some specific aspect of consciousness only, or which aim to test a general idea of how consciousness could be modelled.

According to this definition, models might eventually become theories.

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Seth, Anil. "Models of consciousness." Scholarpedia 2.1 (2007): 1328.