Philosophical Explorations 20 (2):209-223 (2017)

Anco Peeters
Ruhr-Universität Bochum
Miguel Segundo-Ortin
University of Wollongong
This paper motivates taking seriously the possibility that brains are basically protean: that they make use of neural structures in inventive, on-the-fly improvisations to suit circumstance and context. Accordingly, we should not always expect cognition to divide into functionally stable neural parts and pieces. We begin by reviewing recent work in cognitive ontology that highlights the inadequacy of traditional neuroscientific approaches when it comes to divining the function and structure of cognition. Cathy J. Price and Karl J. Friston, and Colin Klein identify the limitations of relying on forward and reverse inferences to cast light on the relation between cognitive functions and neural structures. There is reason to prefer Klein’s approach to that of Price and Friston’s. But Klein’s approach is neurocentric - it assumes that we ought to look solely at neural contexts to fix cognitive ontology. Using recent work on mindreading as a case study, we motivate adopting a radically different approach to cognitive ontology. Promoting the Protean Brain Hypothesis, we posit the possibility that we may need to look beyond the brain when deciding which functions are being performed in acts of cognition and in understanding how the brain contributes to such acts by adapting to circumstance.
Keywords enactivism  cognitive ontology  functionalism  neurodynamics  pluripotency
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DOI 10.1080/13869795.2017.1312502
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Origins of Objectivity.Tyler Burge - 2010 - Oxford University Press.

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The Roots of Remembering: Radically Enactive Recollecting.Daniel D. Hutto & Anco Peeters - 2018 - In Kourken Michaelian, Dorothea Debus & Denis Perrin (eds.), New Directions in the Philosophy of Memory. New York: Routledge. pp. 97-118.
Re-Doing the Math: Making Enactivism Add Up.Daniel Hutto - 2019 - Philosophical Studies 176 (3):827-837.

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