On (not) defining cognition

Synthese 194 (11):4233-4249 (2017)
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Should cognitive scientists be any more embarrassed about their lack of a discipline-fixing definition of cognition than biologists are about their inability to define “life”? My answer is “no”. Philosophers seeking a unique “mark of the cognitive” or less onerous but nevertheless categorical characterizations of cognition are working at a level of analysis upon which hangs nothing that either cognitive scientists or philosophers of cognitive science should care about. In contrast, I advocate a pluralistic stance towards uses of the term ‘cognition’ that eschews the urge to treat cognition as a metaphysically well-defined “natural” kind.



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Colin Allen
University of Pittsburgh

References found in this work

The extended mind.Andy Clark & David J. Chalmers - 1998 - Analysis 58 (1):7-19.
The Bounds of Cognition.Frederick Adams & Kenneth Aizawa - 2008 - Malden, MA, USA: Wiley-Blackwell. Edited by Kenneth Aizawa.
Knowledge and the flow of information.F. Dretske - 1989 - Trans/Form/Ação 12:133-139.

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