David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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In Robert J. Stainton (ed.), Contemporary Debates in Cognitive Science. Malden MA: Blackwell Publishing (2006)
0. Platitudinously, cognitive science is the science of cognition. Cognition is usually defined as something like the process of acquiring, retaining and applying knowledge. To a first approximation, therefore, cognitive science is the science of knowing. Knowing is a relation between the knower and the known. Typically, although not always, what is known involves the environment external to the knower. Thus knowing typically involves a relation between the agent and the external environment. It is not internal to the agent, for the internal may be the same whether or not it is related to the external in a way that constitutes knowing. Cognition enables agents to achieve their goals by adjusting their actions appropriately to the environment. Such adjustment requires what is internal to the agent to be in some sense in line with what is external; that matching depends on both internal and external sides. Thus if cognitive science were restricted to what is internal to the agent, it would lose sight of its primary object of study. Although cognition depends on both the internal and the external, one can try to analyse it into internal and external factors. Call a state S narrow if and only if whether an agent is in S at a time t depends only on the total internal qualitative state of S at t, so that if one agent in one possible situation is internally an exact duplicate of another agent..
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