Extended Cognition & the Causal‐Constitutive Fallacy: In Search for a Diachronic and Dynamical Conception of Constitution

Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 90 (2):320-360 (2013)
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Philosophical accounts of the constitution relation have been explicated in terms of synchronic relations between higher‐ and lower‐level entities. Such accounts, I argue, are temporally austere or impoverished, and are consequently unable to make sense of the diachronic and dynamic character of constitution in dynamical systems generally and dynamically extended cognitive processes in particular. In this paper, my target domain is extended cognition based on insights from nonlinear dynamics. Contrariwise to the mainstream literature in both analytical metaphysics and extended cognition, I develop a nonstandard, alternative conception of constitution, which I call “diachronic process constitution”. It will be argued that only a diachronic and dynamical conception of constitution is consistent with the nature of constitution in distributed cognitive processes.



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Michael David Kirchhoff
University of Wollongong