Emergence and Reduction in Dynamical Cognitive Science

New Ideas in Psychology 28:274-282 (2010)
This paper examines the widespread intuition that the dynamical approach to cognitive science is importantly related to emergentism about the mind. The explanatory practices adopted by dynamical cognitive science rule out some conceptions of emergence; covering law explanations require a deducibility relationship between explanans and explanandum, whereas canonical theories of emergence require the absence of such deducibility. A response to this problem – one which would save the intuition that dynamics and emergence are related – is to reconstrue the concept of emergence as a relationship between laws. I call this “nomological emergence” and comment on the extent to which dynamicists would find it acceptable. Alternatively, dynamical cognitive science might be viewed as fitting better with the kind of “functional reductionism” which has recently been developed by authors such as Jaegwon Kim. Which of these two alternatives is preferable remains an open question pending the further development of dynamical cognitive science, particularly in its “non-classical” forms.
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