We provide a taxonomy of the two most important debates in the philosophy of the cognitive and neural sciences. The first debate is over methodological individualism: is the object of the cognitive and neural sciences the brain, the whole animal, or the animal--environment system? The second is over explanatory style: should explanation in cognitive and neural science be reductionist-mechanistic, inter-level mechanistic, or dynamical? After setting out the debates, we discuss the ways in which they are interconnected. Finally, we make some (...) recommendations that we hope will help philosophers interested in the cognitive and neural sciences to avoid dead ends. (shrink)
In this essay we respond to some criticisms of the guidance theory of representation offered by Tom Roberts. We argue that although Roberts’ criticisms miss their mark, he raises the important issue of the relationship between affordances and the action-oriented representations proposed by the guidance theory. Affordances play a prominent role in the anti-representationalist accounts offered by theorists of embodied cognition and ecological psychology, and the guidance theory is motivated in part by a desire to respond to the critiques of (...) representationalism offered in such accounts, without giving up entirely on the idea that representations are an important part of the cognitive economy of many animals. Thus, explorations of whether and how such accounts can in fact be related and reconciled potentially offer to shed some light on this ongoing controversy. Although the current essay hardly settles the larger debate, it does suggest that there may be more possibility for agreement than is often supposed. (shrink)
What would it take for an artificial agent to be treated as having moral value? As a first step toward answering this question, we ask what it would take for an artificial agent to be capable of the sort of autonomous, adaptive social behavior that is characteristic of the animals that humans interact with. We propose that this sort of capacity is best measured by what we call the Embodied Turing Test. The Embodied Turing test is a test in which (...) intelligence is operationally defined in terms of autonomous, adaptive interaction with the environment and with other animals. Three versions of the Embodied Turing test were performed with a SONY AIBO robot. Human participants were asked to differentiate between AIBO in a human-controlled mode and AIBO in a software-controlled mode. Our results indicate that the human participants were guessing at how AIBO was controlled. Our data reveals that people do not have enough experience with robots to accurately evaluate its behavior. This indicates that today’s humans do not have enough experience with artificial agents to treat them as morally valuable. (shrink)
Thomas Stoffregen's "Affordances and Events" makes many points that are forgotten all too often--if they are realized at all--by adherents to the ecological perspective in psychology. He is to be applauded for this. But he compiles these points to make a very strong and very sweeping claim about the validity of a broad swath of research that is done by ecological psychologists. In particular, he argues for the following conclusion: "More generally, I have suggested that events may not be perceived; (...) it may be that only affordances are perceived. If so, this would raise serious questions.. (shrink)
In a way that is rarely even attempted, and even more rarely actually pulled off, Susan Hurley, in her book Consciousness in Action, brings scientific ideas into contact with mainstream philosophy. It is not at all unusual for empirical results from cognitive science, psychology, and neuroscience to be raised in discussion of issues in philosophy of science and philosophy of mind--Dennett and the Churchlands, for example, have been doing so for years. But Hurley attempts to draw empirical results even closer (...) to the center of philosophy, using them to make points about metaphysics and epistemology more broadly, especially PutnamÂ’s Twin Earth cases. We are very fond of Hurley's book, and we agree with nearly all of her conclusions. We do think, though, that there are two important cases where Hurley has misunderstood scientific work. First, we think she misunderstand dynamical systems theory; second, we think her criticism of ecological psychology is misplaced. In neither case do these misunderstandings derail HurleyÂ’s overall project--indeed, the former of them makes her conclusions all the more plausible. We consider them in order. (shrink)
In a target article that appeared in this journal, Thomas Stoffregen 2000 questions the possibility of ecological event perception research. This paper describes an experiments performed to examine the perception of the disappearance of gap-crossing affordances, a variety of event as defined by Chemero 2000. We found that subjects reliably perceive both gap-crossing affordances and the disappearance of gap-crossing affordances. Our findings provide empirical evidence in favor of understanding events as changes in the layout of affordances, shoring up event perception (...) research in ecological psychology. (shrink)
This paper has two main purposes. First, it will provide an introductory discussion of hyperset theory, and show that it is useful for modeling complex systems. Second, it will use hyperset theory to analyze Robert Rosen’s metabolismrepair systems and his claim that living things are closed to efficient cause. It will also briefly compare closure to efficient cause to two other understandings of autonomy, operational closure and catalytic closure.
Cognitive science has always included multiple methodologies and theoretical commitments. The philosophy of cognitive science should embrace, or at least acknowledge, this diversity. Bechtel's (2009a) proposed philosophy of cognitive science, however, applies only to representationalist and mechanist cognitive science, ignoring the substantial minority of dynamically-oriented cognitive scientists. As an example of non-representational, dynamical cognitive science, we describe strong anticipation as a model for circadian systems (Stepp and Turvey 2009). We then propose a philosophy of science appropriate to non-representational, dynamical cognitive (...) science. (shrink)
There are many different kinds of model and scientists do all kind of things with them. This diversity of model type and model use is a good thing for science. Indeed, it is crucial especially for the biological and cognitive sciences, which have to solve many different problems at many different scales, ranging from the most concrete of the structural details of a DNA molecule to the most abstract and generic principles of self-organization in networks. Getting a grip (or more (...) likely many separate grips) on this range of topics calls for a teeming forest of techniques, including many different modeling techniques. Barbara Webb’s target article strikes us as a proposal for clear-cutting the forest. We think clear-cutting here would be as good for science as it is for non-metaphorical forests. Our argument for this is primarily a recitation of a few of the ways that diversity has been useful. Recently, looking at the actual practice of artificial life modelers, one of us distinguished four uses of simulation models classified in terms of the position the models take up between theory and data (see Figure 1). The classification is not exhaustive, and the barriers between kinds are not absolute. Rather, the purpose of the taxonomy is to open up the view for an epistemic ecology of modeling practices. First, and closest to the empirical domain, there are mechanistic models, in which there is an almost one-to-one correspondence between variables in the model and observables in the target system and its environment. Webb’s.. (shrink)
Every few years Andy Clark writes a book designed to help philosophers of mind get up to speed with the most recent developments in cognitive science. In his first two such books, Microcognition (1989) and Associative Engines (1993), Clark introduced the then-cutting-edge field of connectionist networks. In his newest one, Being There: Putting Brain, Body and World Together Again (1997), he once again provides a concise, readable introduction to the state of the art. This time, though, Clark has moved beyond (...) (but not abandoned) connectionism for what he calls 'embodied, active cognition,' in which the primary focus of study is not the inner workings of the rational thinker, but rather the way the autonomous, embodied agent interacts with its environment. (shrink)
The ideas of continental philosopher Martin Heidegger have been influential in cognitive science and artificial intelligence, despite the fact that there has been no effort to analyze these ideas empirically. The experiments reported here are designed to lend empirical support to Heidegger’s phenomenology and more specifically his description of the transition between ready-to-hand and unready-to-hand modes in interactions with tools. In experiment 1, we found that a smoothly coping cognitive system exhibits 1/fβ type positively correlated noise and that its (...) correlated character is reduced when the system is perturbed. This indicates that the participant and tool constitute a self-assembled, extended device during smooth coping and this device is disrupted by the perturbation. In experiment 2, we examine the re-organization of awareness that occurs when a smoothly coping, self-assembled, extended cognitive system is perturbed. We found that the disruption is accompanied by a change in attention which interferes with participants’ performance on a simultaneous cognitive task. Together these experiments show that a smoothly coping participant-tool system can be temporarily disrupted and that this disruption causes a change in the participant’s awareness. Since these two events follow as predictions from Heidegger’s work, our study offers evidence for the hypothesized transition from readiness-to-hand to unreadiness-to-hand. (shrink)
Using hypersets as an analytic tool, we compare traditionally Gibsonian (Chemero 2003; Turvey 1992) and representationalist (Sahin et al. this issue) understandings of the notion ‘affordance’. We show that representationalist understandings are incompatible with direct perception and erect barriers between animal and environment. They are, therefore, scarcely recognizable as understandings of ‘affordance’. In contrast, Gibsonian understandings are shown to treat animal-environment systems as unified complex systems and to be compatible with direct perception. We discuss the fruitful connections between Gibsonian affordances (...) and dynamical systems explanation in the behavioral sciences and point to prior fruitful application of Gibsonian affordances in robotics. We conclude that it is unnecessary to re-imagine affordances as representations in order to make them useful for researchers in robotics. (shrink)
This paper has two primary aims. The first is to provide an introductory discussion of hyperset theory and its usefulness for modeling complex systems. The second aim is to provide a hyperset analysis of Robert Rosen’s metabolism-repair systems and his claim that living things are closed to efficient cause. Consequences of the hyperset models for Rosen’s claims concerning computability and life are discussed.
To accept that cognition is embodied is to question many of the beliefs traditionally held by cognitive scientists. One key question regards the localization of cognitive faculties. Here we argue that for cognition to be embodied and sometimes embedded, means that the cognitive faculty cannot be localized in a brain area alone. We review recent research on neural reuse, the 1/f structure of human activity, tool use, group cognition, and social coordination dynamics that we believe demonstrates how the boundary between (...) the different areas of the brain, the brain and body, and the body and environment is not only blurred but indeterminate. In turn, we propose that cognition is supported by a nested structure of task-specific synergies, which are softly assembled from a variety of neural, bodily, and environmental components (including other individuals), and exhibit interaction dominant dynamics. (shrink)
The complex systems approach to cognitive science invites a new understanding of extended cognitive systems. According to this understanding, extended cognitive systems are heterogenous, composed of brain, body, and niche, non-linearly coupled to one another. This view of cognitive systems, as non-linearly coupled brain–body–niche systems, promises conceptual and methodological advances. In this article we focus on two of these. First, the fundamental interdependence among brain, body, and niche makes it possible to explain extended cognition without invoking representations or computation. Second, (...) cognition and conscious experience can be understood as a single phenomenon, eliminating fruitless philosophical discussion of qualia and the so-called hard problem of consciousness. What we call “extended phenomenological-cognitive systems” are relational and dynamical entities, with interactions among heterogeneous parts at multiple spatial and temporal scales. (shrink)
Cognitive science has always included multiple methodologies and theoretical commitments. The philosophy of cognitive science should embrace, or at least acknowledge, this diversity. Bechtel’s (2009a) proposed philosophy of cognitive science, however, applies only to representationalist and mechanist cognitive science, ignoring the substantial minority of dynamically oriented cognitive scientists. As an example of nonrepresentational, dynamical cognitive science, we describe strong anticipation as a model for circadian systems (Stepp & Turvey, 2009). We then propose a philosophy of science appropriate to nonrepresentational, dynamical (...) cognitive science. (shrink)
This article is about a sidebar in James Gibson's last book, The ecological approach to visual perception. In this sidebar, Gibson, the founder of the ecological perspective of perception and action, argued that to perceive an affordance is not to classify an object. Although this sidebar has received scant attention, it is of great significance both historically and for recent discussions about specificity, direct perception, and the functions of the dorsal and ventral streams. It is argued that Gibson's acknowledgment of (...) Wittgenstein's ideas of classification suggests a limited scope of his theory of direct perception?it cannot account for the classification of objects. The implications for both the specification debate and theorizing about the brain's dorsal and ventral pathways are explored. Based on a recent ecological conception of information and direct perception, we ultimately argue that both affordance perception and classification are direct. (shrink)
This brief commentary has three goals. The first is to argue that ‘‘framework debate’’ in cognitive science is unresolvable. The idea that one theory or framework can singly account for the vast complexity and variety of cognitive processes seems unlikely if not impossible. The second goal is a consequence of this: We should consider how the various theories on offer work together in diverse contexts of investigation. A final goal is to supply a brief review for readers who are compelled (...) by these points to explore existing literature on the topic. Despite this literature, pluralism has garnered very little attention from broader cognitive science. We end by briefly considering what it might mean for theoretical cognitive science. (shrink)
In their historical overview of cognitive science, Bechtel, Abraham- son and Graham (1999) describe the ﬁeld as expanding in focus be- ginning in the mid-1980s. The ﬁeld had spent the previous 25 years on internalist, high-level GOFAI (“good old fashioned artiﬁcial intelli- gence” [Haugeland 1985]), and was ﬁnally moving “outwards into the environment and downards into the brain” (Bechtel et al, 1999, p.75). One important force behind the downward movement was Patricia Churchland’s Neurophilosophy (1986). This book began a movement bearing (...) its name, one that truly came of age in 1999 when Kath- leen Akins won a million-dollar fellowship to begin the McDonnell Project in Philosophy and the Neurosciences. The McDonnell Project put neurophilosophy at the forefront of philosophy of mind and cogni- tive science, yielding proliferating articles, conferences, special journal issues and books. In two major new books, neurophilosophers Patricia Churchland (2002) and John Bickle (2003) clearly feel this newfound prominence: Churchland mocks those who do not apply ﬁndings in neuroscience to philosophical problems as “no-brainers”; Bickle mocks anyone with traditional philosophical concerns, including “naturalistic philosophers of mind” and other neurophilosophers. (shrink)
The purpose of this paper is to use neuroscientific evidence to address the philosophical issue of intertheoretic reduction. In particular, we present a literature review and a new experiment to show that the reduction of cognitive psychology to neuroscience is implausible. To make this case, we look at research using object exploration, an important experimental paradigm in neuroscience, behavioral genetics and psychopharmacology. We show that a good deal of object exploration research is potentially confounded precisely because it assumes that psychological (...) generalizations can be reduced to neuroscientific ones. (shrink)
The primary difference between direct and inferential theories of perception concerns the location of perceptual content, the meaning of our perceptions. In inferential theories of perception, these meanings arise inside animals, based upon their interactions with the physical environment. Light, for example, bumps into receptors causing a sensation. The animal (or its brain) performs inferences on the sensation, yielding a meaningful perception. In direct theories of perception, on the other hand, meaning is in the environment, and perception does not depend (...) upon meaning- conferring inferences. Instead the animal simply gathers information from a meaning- laden environment. But if the environment contains meanings, then it cannot be merely physical. This places a heavy theoretical burden on direct theories of perception, a burden so severe that it may outweigh all the advantages to conceiving perception as. (shrink)
Do psychologists and computer/cognitive scientists mean the same thing by the term `information'? In this essay, I answer this question by comparing information as understood by Gibsonian, ecological psychologists with information as understood in Barwise and Perry's situation semantics. I argue that, with suitable massaging, these views of information can be brought into line. I end by discussing some issues in (the philosophy of) cognitive science and artificial intelligence.
Arguments in favor of anti-representationalism in cognitive science often suffer from a lack of attention to detail. The purpose of this paper is to fill in the gaps in these arguments, and in so doing show that at least one form of anti- representationalism is potentially viable. After giving a teleological definition of representation and applying it to a few models that have inspired anti- representationalist claims, I argue that anti-representationalism must be divided into two distinct theses, one ontological, one (...) epistemological. Given the assumptions that define the debate, I give reason to think that the ontological thesis is false. I then argue that the epistemological thesis might, in the end, turn out to be true, despite a potentially serious difficulty. Along the way, there will be a brief detour to discuss a controversy from early twentieth century physics. (shrink)
A recent set of experiments of ours supported the notion of a transition in experience from readiness-to-hand to unreadiness-tohand proposed by phenomenological philosopher Martin Heidegger. They were also an experimental demonstration of an extended cognitive system. We generated and then temporarily disrupted an interaction- dominant system that spans a human participant, a computer mouse, and a task performed on the computer screen. Our claim that this system was interaction dominant was based on the detection of 1/f noise at the hand-tool (...) interface. The inference from the presence of 1/f noise to the presence of an interaction-dominant system is occasionally disputed. Increasing evidence suggests that inference from multifractality to interaction dominance is more certain than 1/f- like scaling alone. In this paper, we reanalyze the data using the wavelet transform modulus maxima method, showing that the human-mouse system displays multifractality. This reinforces our claims that the system is interaction dominant. (shrink)