Cognitive Extension: The Parity Argument, Functionalism, and the Mark of the Cognitive

Synthese 177 (2):285-300 (2010)
During the past decade, the so-called “hypothesis of cognitive extension,” according to which the material vehicles of some cognitive processes are spatially distributed over the brain and the extracranial parts of the body and the world, has received lots of attention, both favourable and unfavourable. The debate has largely focussed on three related issues: (1) the role of parity considerations, (2) the role of functionalism, and (3) the importance of a mark of the cognitive. This paper critically assesses these issues and their interconnections. Section 1 provides a brief introduction. Section 2 argues that some of the most prominent objections against the appeal to parity considerations fail. Section 3 shows that such considerations are nevertheless unsuitable as an argument for cognitive extension. First, the actual argumentative burden is carried by an underlying commitment to functionalism, not by the parity considerations themselves. Second, in the absence of an independently motivated mark of the cognitive, the argument based on parity considerations does not get off the ground, but given such a mark, it is superfluous. Section 4 argues that a similar dilemma arises for the attempt to defend cognitive extension by a general appeal to functionalism. Unless it can be independently settled what it is for a process to be cognitive, functionalism itself will be undermined by the possibility of cognitive extension. Like parity considerations, functionalism is thus either unable to support cognitive extension or superfluous. Hence, nothing short of the specification of an appropriate mark of the cognitive that can be fulfilled not only by intracranial but also by extended processes will do as an argument for cognitive extension.
Keywords Extended mind  Extended cognition  Functionalism  Parity principle  Mark of the cognitive  Cognition
Categories (categorize this paper)
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
Download options
PhilPapers Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 21,439
External links
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA

View all 19 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA
Mikkel Gerken (2014). Outsourced Cognition. Philosophical Issues 24 (1):127-158.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles
Richard Menary (2012). Cognitive Practices and Cognitive Character. Philosophical Explorations 15 (2):147 - 164.
Mark Sprevak (2009). Extended Cognition and Functionalism. Journal of Philosophy 106 (9):503-527.
David Papineau (1984). Representation and Explanation. Philosophy of Science 51 (December):550-72.

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

73 ( #60,384 of 1,911,604 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

10 ( #61,051 of 1,911,604 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

Start a new thread
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.