Functional Independence and Cognitive Architecture

British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 67 (3):817-836 (2016)
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In cognitive science, the concept of dissociation has been central to the functional individuation and decomposition of cognitive systems. Setting aside debates about the legitimacy of inferring the existence of dissociable systems from ‘behavioural’ dissociation data, the main idea behind the dissociation approach is that two cognitive systems are dissociable, and thus viewed as distinct, if each can be damaged, or impaired, without affecting the other system’s functions. In this article, I propose a notion of functional independence that does not require dissociability, and describe an approach to the functional decomposition and modelling of cognitive systems that complements the dissociation approach. I show that highly integrated cognitive and neurocognitive systems can be decomposed into non-dissociable but functionally independent components, and argue that this approach can provide a general account of cognitive specialization in terms of a stable structure–function relationship. 1 Introduction2 Functional Independence without Dissociability3 FI Systems and Cognitive Architecture4 FI Systems and Cognitive Specialization.

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Vincent Bergeron
University of Ottawa