Commentary on "the modularity of dynamic systems"
David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Ezio Di Nucci
Jack Alan Reynolds
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1. Throughout the paper, and especially in the section called "LISP vs. DST", I worried that there was not enough focus on EXPLANATION. For the real question, it seems to me, is not whether some dynamical system can implement human cognition, but whether the dynamical description of the system is more explanatorily potent than a computational/representational one. Thus we know, for example, that a purely physical specification can fix a system capable of computing any LISP function. But from this it doesn't follow that the physical description is the one we need to understand the power of the system considered as an information processing device. In the same way, I don't think your demonstration that bifurcating attractor sets can yield the same behavior as a LISP program goes any way towards showing that we should not PREFER the LISP description. To reduce symbolic stories to a subset of DST (as hinted in that section) requires MORE than showing this kind of equivalence: it requires showing that there is explanatory gain, or at the very least, no explanatory loss, at that level. I append an extract from a recent paper of mine that touches on these issues, in case it helps clarify what I am after here
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