Breaking explanatory boundaries: flexible borders and plastic minds

Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 18 (1):185-204 (2019)
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Abstract

In this paper, we offer reasons to justify the explanatory credentials of dynamical modeling in the context of the metaplasticity thesis, located within a larger grouping of views known as 4E Cognition. Our focus is on showing that dynamicism is consistent with interventionism, and therefore with a difference-making account at the scale of system topologies that makes sui generis explanatory differences to the overall behavior of a cognitive system. In so doing, we provide a general overview of the interventionist approach. We then argue that recent mechanistic attempts at reducing dynamical modeling to a merely descriptive enterprise fail given that the explanatory standard in dynamical modeling can be shown to rest on interventionism. We conclude that dynamical modeling captures features of nested and developmentally plastic cognitive systems that cannot be explained by appeal to underlying mechanisms alone.

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Michael David Kirchhoff
University of Wollongong