The renowned philosopher Jerry Fodor, a leading figure in the study of the mind for more than twenty years, presents a strikingly original theory on the basic constituents of thought. He suggests that the heart of cognitivescience is its theory of concepts, and that cognitive scientists have gone badly wrong in many areas because their assumptions about concepts have been mistaken. Fodor argues compellingly for an atomistic theory of concepts, deals out witty and pugnacious demolitions of (...) rival theories, and suggests that future work on human cognition should build upon new foundations. This lively, conversational, and superbly accessible book is the first volume in the Oxford CognitiveScience Series, where the best original work in this field will be presented to a broad readership. Concepts will fascinate anyone interested in contemporary work on mind and language. Cognitivescience will never be the same again. (shrink)
Anthropology and the other cognitivescience (CS) subdisciplines currently maintain a troubled relationship. With a debate in topiCS we aim at exploring the prospects for improving this relationship, and our introduction is intended as a catalyst for this debate. In order to encourage a frank sharing of perspectives, our comments will be deliberately provocative. Several challenges for a successful rapprochement are identified, encompassing the diverging paths that CS and anthropology have taken in the past, the degree of compatibility (...) between (1) CS and (2) anthropology with regard to methodology and (3) research strategies, (4) the importance of anthropology for CS, and (5) the need for disciplinary diversity. Given this set of challenges, a reconciliation seems unlikely to follow on the heels of good intentions alone. (shrink)
This book explores how people's subjective, felt experiences of their bodies in action provide part of the fundamental grounding for human cognition and language. Cognition is what occurs when the body engages the physical and cultural world and must be studied in terms of the dynamical interactions between people and the environment. Human language and thought emerge from recurring patterns of embodied activity that constrain ongoing intelligent behavior. We must not assume cognition to be purely internal, symbolic, computational, and disembodied, (...) but seek out the gross and detailed ways that language and thought are inextricably shaped by embodied action. Embodiment and CognitiveScience describes the abundance of empirical evidence from many disciplines, including work on perception, concepts, imagery and reasoning, language and communication, cognitive development, and emotions and consciousness, that support the idea that the mind is embodied. (shrink)
This chapter examines the pragmatist approach to cognition and experience and provides some of the conceptual background to the “pragmatic turn” currently underway in cognitivescience. Classical pragmatists wrote extensively on cognition from a naturalistic perspective, and many of their views are compatible with contemporary pragmatist approaches such as enactivist, extended, and embodied-Bayesian approaches to cognition. Three principles of a pragmatic approach to cognition frame the discussion: First, thinking is structured by the interaction of an organism with its (...) environment. Second, cognition develops via exploratory inference, which remains a core cognitive ability throughout the life cycle. Finally, inquiry/problem solving begins with genuinely irritating doubts that arise in a situation and is carried out by exploratory inference. (shrink)
This paper considers the past and future of Psychology within CognitiveScience. In the history section, I focus on three questions: (a) how has the position of Psychology evolved within CognitiveScience, relative to the other disciplines that make up CognitiveScience; (b) how have particular CognitiveScience areas within Psychology waxed or waned; and (c) what have we gained and lost. After discussing what’s happened since the late 1970s, when the Society (...) and the journal began, I speculate about where the field is going. (shrink)
Contrary to common views that philosophy is extraneous to cognitivescience, this paper argues that philosophy has a crucial role to play in cognitivescience with respect to generality and normativity. General questions include the nature of theories and explanations, the role of computer simulation in cognitive theorizing, and the relations among the different ﬁelds of cognitivescience. Normative questions include whether human thinking should be Bayesian, whether decision making should maximize expected utility, (...) and how norms should be established. These kinds of general and normative questions make philosophical reﬂection an important part of progress in cognitivescience. Philosophy operates best, however, not with a priori reasoning or conceptual analysis, but rather with empirically informed reﬂection on a wide range of ﬁndings in cognitivescience. (shrink)
Many philosophers insist that the revisionary metaphysician—i.e., the metaphysician who offers a metaphysical theory which conflicts with folk intuitions—bears a special burden to explain why certain folk intuitions are mistaken. I show how evidence from cognitivescience can help revisionist discharge this explanatory burden. Focusing on composition and persistence, I argue that empirical evidence indicates that the folk operate with a promiscuous teleomentalist view of composition and persistence. The folk view, I argue, deserves to be debunked. In this (...) way, I take myself to have illustrated one key role cognitivescience can play in metaphysics; namely by helping the revisionary metaphysician discharge the explanatory burden of providing a plausible explanation of how the folk have gone wrong. (shrink)
There is much good work for philosophers to do in cognitivescience if they adopt the constructive attitude that prevails in science, work toward testable hypotheses, and take on the task of clarifying the relationship between the scientiﬁc concepts and the everyday concepts with which we conduct our moral lives.
Alongside existing research into the social, political and economic impacts of the Web, there is a need to study the Web from a cognitive and epistemic perspective. This is particularly so as new and emerging technologies alter the nature of our interactive engagements with the Web, transforming the extent to which our thoughts and actions are shaped by the online environment. Situated and ecological approaches to cognition are relevant to understanding the cognitive significance of the Web because of (...) the emphasis they place on forces and factors that reside at the level of agent–world interactions. In particular, by adopting a situated or ecological approach to cognition, we are able to assess the significance of the Web from the perspective of research into embodied, extended, embedded, social and collective cognition. The results of this analysis help to reshape the interdisciplinary configuration of Web Science, expanding its theoretical and empirical remit to include the disciplines of both cognitivescience and the philosophy of mind. (shrink)
Introduction for 'New Developments in CognitiveScience of Religion - The Rationality of Religious Belief' forthcoming with Springer. -/- We discuss the philosophical debate over CognitiveScience of Religion and give an outline of the book.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a core area of CognitiveScience, yet today few AI researchers attend the CognitiveScience Society meetings. This essay examines why, how AI has changed over the last 30 years, and some emerging areas of potential interest where AI and the Society can go together in the next 30 years, if they choose.
This conclusion of the debate on anthropology’s role in cognitivescience provides some clarifications and an overview of emergent themes. It also lists, as cases of good practice, some examples of productive cross-disciplinary collaboration that evince a forward momentum in the relationship between anthropology and the other cognitive sciences.
What are the epistemological implications of the cognitivescience of religion (CSR)? The lion’s share of discussion fixates on whether CSR undermines (or debunks or explains away) theistic belief. But could the field offer positive support for theism? If so, how? That is our question. Our answer takes the form of an evidential argument for theism from standard models and research in the field. According to CSR, we are naturally disposed to believe in supernatural agents and these beliefs (...) are constrained in certain ways. The three main theories of this supernatural disposition are byproduct theories, adaptationist theories, and hybrid theories. We argue that our supernatural disposition—as understood by any of the main theories—is more surprising and improbable given naturalism than theism and thus serves as evidence for theism over naturalism. (shrink)
Cognitive anthropology contributes to cognitivescience as a complement to cognitive psychology. The chief threat to its survival has not been rejection by other cognitive scientists but by other cultural anthropologists. It will remain a part of cognitivescience as long as cognitive anthropologists research, teach, and publish.
This paper reviews 30 years of progress in U.S. cognitivescience research related to education and training, as seen from the perspective of a research manager who was personally involved in many of these developments.
This commentary gives a personal perspective on modeling and modeling developments in cognitivescience, starting in the 1950s, but focusing on the author’s personal views of modeling since training in the late 1960s, and particularly focusing on advances since the official founding of the CognitiveScience Society. The range and variety of modeling approaches in use today are remarkable, and for many, bewildering. Yet to come to anything approaching adequate insights into the infinitely complex fields of (...) mind, brain, and intelligent systems, an extremely wide array of modeling approaches is vital and necessary. (shrink)
This chapter offers a high-level overview of the philosophy of cognitivescience and an introduction to the Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of CognitiveScience. The philosophy of cognitivescience emerged out of a set of common and overlapping interests among philosophers and scientists who study the mind. We identify five categories of issues that illustrate the best work in this broad field: (1) traditional philosophical issues about the mind that have been invigorated by research (...) in cognitivescience, (2) issues regarding the practice of cognitivescience and its foundational assumptions, (3) issues regarding the explication and clarification of core concepts in cognitivescience, (4) first-order empirical issues where philosophers participate in the interdisciplinary investigation of particular psychological phenomena, (5) traditional philosophical issues that aren’t about the mind but that can be informed by a better understanding of how the mind works. (shrink)
Cognitivescience views thought as computation; and computation, by its very nature, can be understood in both rational and mechanistic terms. In rational terms, a computation solves some information processing problem (e.g., mapping sensory information into a description of the external world; parsing a sentence; selecting among a set of possible actions). In mechanistic terms, a computation corresponds to causal chain of events in a physical device (in engineering context, a silicon chip; in biological context, the nervous system). (...) The discipline is thus at the interface between two very different styles of explanation—as the papers in the current special issue well illustrate, it explores the interplay of rational and mechanistic forces. (shrink)
Mindware: An Introduction to the Philosophy of CognitiveScience invites readers to join in up-to-the-minute conceptual discussions of the fundamental issues, problems, and opportunities in cognitivescience. Written by one of the most renowned scholars in the field, this vivid and engaging introductory text relates the story of the search for a cognitive scientific understanding of mind. This search is presented as a no-holds-barred journey from early work in artificial intelligence, through connectionist (artificial neural network) (...) counter-visions, and on to neuroscience, artificial life, dynamics, and robotics. The journey ends with some wide-ranging and provocative speculation about the complex coadaptive dance between mind, culture, and technology. Each chapter opens with a brief sketch of a major research tradition or perspective, followed by short yet substantial critical discussions dealing with key topics and problems. Ranging across both standard philosophical territory and the landscape of cutting-edge cognitivescience, Clark highlights challenging issues in an effort to engage readers in active debate. Topics covered include mental causation; machine intelligence; the nature and status of folk psychology; the hardware/software distinction; emergence; relations between life and mind; the nature of perception, cognition, and action; and the continuity (or otherwise) of high-level human intelligence with other forms of adaptive response. Numerous illustrations, text boxes, and extensive suggestions for further reading enhance the text's utility. Helpful appendices provide background information on dualism, behaviorism, identity theory, consciousness, and more. An exceptional text for introductory and more advanced courses in cognitivescience and the philosophy of mind, Mindware is also essential reading for anyone interested in these fascinating and ever-changing fields. (shrink)
The computational view of mind rests on certain intuitions regarding the fundamental similarity between computation and cognition. We examine some of these intuitions and suggest that they derive from the fact that computers and human organisms are both physical systems whose behavior is correctly described as being governed by rules acting on symbolic representations. Some of the implications of this view are discussed. It is suggested that a fundamental hypothesis of this approach is that there is a natural domain of (...) human functioning that can be addressed exclusively in terms of a formal symbolic or algorithmic vocabulary or level of analysis. Much of the paper elaborates various conditions that need to be met if a literal view of mental activity as computation is to serve as the basis for explanatory theories. The coherence of such a view depends on there being a principled distinction between functions whose explanation requires that we posit internal representations and those that we can appropriately describe as merely instantiating causal physical or biological laws. In this paper the distinction is empirically grounded in a methodological criterion called the " cognitive impenetrability condition." Functions are said to be cognitively impenetrable if they cannot be influenced by such purely cognitive factors as goals, beliefs, inferences, tacit knowledge, and so on. Such a criterion makes it possible to empirically separate the fixed capacities of mind from the particular representations and algorithms used on specific occasions. In order for computational theories to avoid being ad hoc, they must deal effectively with the "degrees of freedom" problem by constraining the extent to which they can be arbitrarily adjusted post hoc to fit some particular set of observations. This in turn requires that the fixed architectural function and the algorithms be independently validated. It is argued that the architectural assumptions implicit in many contemporary models run afoul of the cognitive impenetrability condition, since the required fixed functions are demonstrably sensitive to tacit knowledge and goals. The paper concludes with some tactical suggestions for the development of computational cognitive theories. (shrink)
Colour fascinates all of us, and scientists and philosophers have sought to understand the true nature of colour vision for many years. In recent times, investigations into colour vision have been one of the main success stories of cognitivescience, for each discipline within the field - neuroscience, psychology, linguistics, computer science and artificial intelligence, and philosophy - has contributed significantly to our understanding of colour. Evan Thompson's book is a major contribution to this interdisciplinary project. Colour (...) Vision provides an accessible review of the current scientific and philosophical discussions of colour vision. Thompson steers a course between the subjective and objective positions on colour, arguing for a relational account. This account develops a novel `ecological' approach to colour vision in cognitivescience and the philosophy of perception. It is vital reading for all cognitive scientists and philosophers whose interests touch upon this central area. (shrink)
Cognitive systems research has predominantly been guided by the historical distinction between emotion and cognition, and has focused its efforts on modelling the “cognitive” aspects of behaviour. While this initially meant modelling only the control system of cognitive creatures, with the advent of “embodied” cognitivescience this expanded to also modelling the interactions between the control system and the external environment. What did not seem to change with this embodiment revolution, however, was the attitude towards (...) affect and emotion in cognitivescience. This paper argues that cognitive systems research is now beginning to integrate these aspects of natural cognitive systems into cognitivescience proper, not in virtue of traditional “embodied cognitivescience”, which focuses predominantly on the body’s gross morphology, but rather in virtue of research into the interoceptive, organismic basis of natural cognitive systems. (shrink)
This chapter develops a style of argument that realists can use to defend the methodological propriety of appealing to a given range of intuitions. Unbunking arguments are an epistemically positive analogue of debunking arguments, and they revolve around the claim that the processes dominantly responsible for beliefs about a given domain are reliable. However, processes cannot always be assessed for accuracy with respect to the relevant domain, so this chapter also develops the cross-domain strategy, which involves arguing that processes known (...) to be reliable in one domain are similarly reliable with respect to a different domain. The chapter ends by unbunking our metaphysical intuitions about mutual supervenience by way of a cross-domain strategy that draws on cognitive scientific research into our ability to track correlations. (shrink)
Intellectualism is the claim that practical knowledge or ‘know-how’ is a kind of propositional knowledge. The debate over Intellectualism has appealed to two different kinds of evidence, semantic and scientific. This paper concerns the relationship between Intellectualist arguments based on truth-conditional semantics of practical knowledge ascriptions, and anti-Intellectualist arguments based on cognitivescience and propositional representation. The first half of the paper argues that the anti-Intellectualist argument from cognitivescience rests on a naturalistic approach to metaphysics: (...) its proponents assume that findings from cognitivescience provide evidence about the nature of mental states. We demonstrate that this fact has been overlooked in the ensuing debate, resulting in inconsistency and confusion. Defenders of the semantic approach to Intellectualism engage with the argument from cognitivescience in a way that implicitly endorses this naturalistic metaphysics, and even rely on it to claim that cognitivescience support Intellectualism. In the course of their arguments, however, they also reject that scientific findings can have metaphysical import. We argue that this situation is preventing productive debate about Intellectualism, which would benefit from both sides being more transparent about their metaphilosophical assumptions. (shrink)
What is the difference between right and wrong? This is no easy question to answer, yet we constantly try to make it so, frequently appealing to some hidden cache of cut-and-dried absolutes, whether drawn from God, universal reason, or societal authority. Combining cognitivescience with a pragmatist philosophical framework in Morality for Humans: Ethical Understanding from the Perspective of CognitiveScience, Mark Johnson argues that appealing solely to absolute principles and values is not only scientifically unsound (...) but even morally suspect. He shows that the standards for the kinds of people we should be and how we should treat one another—which we often think of as universal—are in fact frequently subject to change. And we should be okay with that. Taking context into consideration, he offers a remarkably nuanced, naturalistic view of ethics that sees us creatively adapt our standards according to given needs, emerging problems, and social interactions. Ethical naturalism is not just a revamped form of relativism. Indeed, Johnson attempts to overcome the absolutist-versus-relativist impasse that has been one of the most intractable problems in the history of philosophy. He does so through a careful and inclusive look at the many ways we reason about right and wrong. Much of our moral thought, he shows, is automatic and intuitive, gut feelings that we follow up and attempt to justify with rational analysis and argument. However, good moral deliberation is not limited merely to intuitive judgments supported after the fact by reasoning. Johnson points out a crucial third element: we imagine how our decisions will play out, how we or the world would change with each action we might take. Plumbing this imaginative dimension of moral reasoning, he provides a psychologically sophisticated view of moral problem solving, one perfectly suited for the embodied, culturally embedded, and ever-developing human creatures that we are. (shrink)
Though nativist hypotheses have played a pivotal role in the development of cognitivescience, it remains exceedingly obscure how they—and the debates in which they ﬁgure—ought to be understood. The central aim of this paper is to provide an account which addresses this concern and in so doing: a) makes sense of the roles that nativist theorizing plays in cognitivescience and, moreover, b), explains why it really matters to the contemporary study of cognition. I conclude (...) by outlining a range of further implications of this account for current debate in cognitivescience. (shrink)
[from the publisher's website] Questions about the existence and attributes of God form the subject matter of natural theology, which seeks to gain knowledge of the divine by relying on reason and experience of the world. Arguments in natural theology rely largely on intuitions and inferences that seem natural to us, occurring spontaneously—at the sight of a beautiful landscape, perhaps, or in wonderment at the complexity of the cosmos—even to a nonphilosopher. In this book, Helen De Cruz and Johan De (...) Smedt examine the cognitive origins of arguments in natural theology. They find that although natural theological arguments can be very sophisticated, they are rooted in everyday intuitions about purpose, causation, agency, and morality. Using evidence and theories from disciplines including the cognitivescience of religion, evolutionary ethics, evolutionary aesthetics, and the cognitivescience of testimony, they show that these intuitions emerge early in development and are a stable part of human cognition. -/- De Cruz and De Smedt analyze the cognitive underpinnings of five well-known arguments for the existence of God: the argument from design, the cosmological argument, the moral argument, the argument from beauty, and the argument from miracles. Finally, they consider whether the cognitive origins of these natural theological arguments should affect their rationality. (shrink)
Kuhn’s Structure of Scientific Revolutions is notable for the readiness with which it drew on the results of cognitive psychology. These naturalistic elements were not well received and Kuhn did not subsequently develop them in his pub- lished work. Nonetheless, in a philosophical climate more receptive to naturalism, we are able to give a more positive evaluation of Kuhn’s proposals. Recently, philosophers such as Nersessian, Nickles, Andersen, Barker, and Chen have used the results of work on case-based reasoning, analogical (...) thinking, dynamic frames, and the like to illuminate and develop various aspects of Kuhn’s thought in Structure. In particular this work aims to give depth to the Kuhnian concepts of a paradigm and incommensurability. I review this work and identify two broad strands of research. One emphasizes work on concepts; the other focusses on cognitive habits. After contrasting these, I argue that the conceptual strand fails to be a complete account of scientific revolutions. We need a broad approach that draws on a variety of resources in psychology and cognitivescience. (shrink)
Review of THEO C. MEYERING, Historical Roots of CognitiveScience : The Rise of a Cognitive Theory of Perception from Antiquity to the Nineteenth Century. Boston: Kluwer, xix + 250 pp. $69.00. Examines the author's interpretation of Aristotelian theories of perceptual cognition, early modern theories, and Helmholtz's theory.
While philosophers of mind have been arguing over the status of mental representations in cognitivescience, cognitive scientists have been quietly engaged in studying perception, action, and cognition without explaining them in terms of mental representation. In this book, Anthony Chemero describes this nonrepresentational approach, puts it in historical and conceptual context, and applies it to traditional problems in the philosophy of mind. Radical embodied cognitivescience is a direct descendant of the American naturalist psychology (...) of William James and John Dewey, and follows them in viewing perception and cognition to be understandable only in terms of action in the environment. Chemero argues that cognition should be described in terms of agent-environment dynamics rather than in terms of computation and representation. After outlining this orientation to cognition, Chemero proposes a methodology: dynamical systems theory, which would explain things dynamically and without reference to representation. He also advances a background theory: Gibsonian ecological psychology, "shored up" and clarified. Chemero then looks at some traditional philosophical problems through the lens of radical embodied cognitivescience and concludes that the comparative ease with which it resolves these problems, combined with its empirical promise, makes this approach to cognitivescience a rewarding one. "Jerry Fodor is my favorite philosopher," Chemero writes in his preface, adding, "I think that Jerry Fodor is wrong about nearly everything." With this book, Chemero explains nonrepresentational, dynamical, ecological cognitivescience as clearly and as rigorously as Jerry Fodor explained computational cognitivescience in his classic work The Language of Thought. (shrink)
This paper argues against Oaksford and Chater's claim that logicist cognitivescience is not possible. It suggests that there arguments against logicist cognitivescience are too closely tied to the account of Pylyshyn and of Fodor, and that the correct way of thinking about logicist cognitivescience is in a mental models framework.
The last 15 years or so has seen the development of a fascinating new area of cognitivescience: the cognitivescience of religion (CSR). Scientists in this field aim to explain religious beliefs and various other religious human activities by appeal to basic cognitive structures that all humans possess. The CSR scientific theories raise an interesting philosophical question: do they somehow show that religious belief, more specifically belief in a god of some kind, is irrational? (...) In this paper I investigate this question and argue that CSR does not show that belief in god is irrational. (shrink)
Without Good Reason offers a clear critical account of the debate in philosophy and cognitivescience about whether humans are rational. Various experiments performed over the last several decades have been interpreted as showing that humans are irrational; certain philosophers, on the other hand, have argued that it is a conceptual truth that humans must be rational. Edward Stein concludes that the question of human rationality should be answered not conceptually but empirically: the resources of a fully developed (...)cognitivescience need to be used not only to answer this question but generally in investigations of the nature of human knowledge and understanding. (shrink)
The notion of levels has been widely used in discussions of cognitivescience, especially in discussions of the relation of connectionism to symbolic modeling of cognition. I argue that many of the notions of levels employed are problematic for this purpose, and develop an alternative notion grounded in the framework of mechanistic explanation. By considering the source of the analogies underlying both symbolic modeling and connectionist modeling, I argue that neither is likely to provide an adequate analysis of (...) processes at the level at which cognitive theories attempt to function: One is drawn from too low a level, the other from too high a level. If there is a distinctly cognitive level, then we still need to determine what are the basic organizational principles at that level. (shrink)
The cultural transmission of theological concepts remains an underexplored topic in the cognitivescience of religion (CSR). In this paper, I examine whether approaches from CSR, especially the study of content biases in the transmission of beliefs, can help explain the cultural success of some theological concepts. This approach reveals that there is more continuity between theological beliefs and ordinary religious beliefs than CSR authors have hitherto recognized: the cultural transmission of theological concepts is influenced by content biases (...) that also underlie the reception of ordinary religious concepts. (shrink)
Thirty years after the publication of Marr's seminal book Vision the papers in this topic consider the contemporary status of his influential conception of three distinct levels of analysis for information-processing systems, and in particular the role of the algorithmic and representational level with its cognitive-level concepts. This level has been downplayed or eliminated both by reductionist neuroscience approaches from below that seek to account for behavior from the implementation level and by Bayesian approaches from above that seek to (...) account for behavior in purely computational-level terms. (shrink)
In this article I take an unusual starting point from which to argue for a unified cognitivescience, namely a position defined by what is sometimes called the ‘life-mind continuity thesis’. Accordingly, rather than taking a widely accepted starting point for granted and using it in order to propose answers to some well defined questions, I must first establish that the idea of life-mind continuity can amount to a proper starting point at all. To begin with, I therefore (...) assess the conceptual tools which are available to construct a theory of mind on this basis. By drawing on insights from a variety of disciplines, especially from a combination of existential phenomenology and organism-centered biology, I argue that mind can indeed be conceived as rooted in life, but only if we accept at the same time that social interaction plays a constitutive role for our cognitive capacities. (shrink)
This chapter describes the conceptual foundations of cognitivescience during its establishment as a science in the 20th century. It is organized around the core ideas of individual agency as its basic explanans and information-processing as its basic explanandum. The latter consists of a package of ideas that provide a mathematico-engineering framework for the philosophical theory of materialism.
Despite being there from the beginning, philosophical approaches have never had a settled place in cognitive research and few cognitive researchers not trained in philosophy have a clear sense of what its role has been or should be. We distinguish philosophy in cognitive research and philosophy of cognitive research. Concerning philosophy in cognitive research, after exploring some standard reactions to this work by nonphilosophers, we will pay particular attention to the methods that philosophers use. Being (...) neither experimental nor computational, they can leave others bewildered. Thought experiments are the most striking example but not the only one. Concerning philosophy of cognitive research, we will pay particular attention to its power to generate and test normative claims, claims about what should and should not be done. (shrink)
A variety of inaccurate claims about Gold's Theorem have appeared in the cognitivescience literature. I begin by characterizing the logic of this theorem and its proof. I then examine several claims about Gold's Theorem, and I show why they are false. Finally, I assess the significance of Gold's Theorem for cognitivescience.
This article responds to two unresolved and crucial problems of cognitivescience: (1) What is actually accomplished by functions of the nervous system that we ordinarily describe in the intentional idiom? and (2) What makes the information processing involved in these functions semantic? It is argued that, contrary to the assumptions of many cognitive theorists, the computational approach does not provide coherent answers to these problems, and that a more promising start would be to fall back on (...) mathematical communication theory and, with the help of evolutionary biology and neurophysiology, to attempt a characterization of the adaptive processes involved in visual perception. Visual representations are explained as patterns of cortical activity that are enabled to focus on objects in the changing visual environment by constantly adjusting to maintain levels of mutual information between pattern and object that are adequate for continuing perceptual control. In these terms, the answer proposed to (1) is that the intentional functions of vision are those involved in the establishment and maintenance of such representations, and to (2) that semantic features are added to the information processes of vision with the focus on objects that these representations accomplish. The article concludes with proposals for extending this account of intentionality to the higher domains of conceptualization and reason, and with speculation about how semantic information-processing might be achieved in mechanical systems. (shrink)
Enactivist (Embodied, Embedded, etc.) approaches in cognitivescience and philosophy of mind are sometimes, though not always, conjoined with an anti-representational commitment. A weaker anti-representational claim is that ascribing representational content to internal/sub-personal processes is not compulsory when giving psychological explanations. A stronger anti-representational claim is that the very idea of ascribing representational content to internal/sub-personal processes is a theoretical confusion. This paper criticises some of the arguments made by Hutto & Myin (2013, 2017) for the stronger anti-representational (...) claim and suggests that the default Enactivist view should be the weaker non-representational position. (shrink)