The first comprehensive presentation of the dynamical approach to cognition. It contains a representative sampling of original, current research on topics such as perception, motor control, speech and language, decision making, and development.
A great deal of philosophy of mind in the modern era has been driven by an intense aversion to Cartesian dualism. In the 1950s, materialists claimed to have succeeded once and for all in exorcising the Cartesian ghost by identifying the mind with the brain. In subsequent decades, cognitive science put scientific meat on this metaphysical skeleton by explicating mental processes as digital computation implemented in the brain's hardware.
The dynamical hypothesis is the claim that cognitive agents are dynamical systems. It stands opposed to the dominant computational hypothesis, the claim that cognitive agents are digital computers. This target article articulates the dynamical hypothesis and defends it as an open empirical alternative to the computational hypothesis. Carrying out these objectives requires extensive clarification of the conceptual terrain, with particular focus on the relation of dynamical systems to computers.
In 1988 Fodor and Pylyshyn issued a challenge to the newly-popular connectionism: explain the systematicity of cognition without merely implementing a so-called classical architecture. Since that time quite a number of connectionist models have been put forward, either by their designers or by others, as in some measure demonstrating that the challenge can be met (e.g., Pollack, 1988, 1990; Smolensky, 1990; Chalmers, 1990; Niklasson and Sharkey, 1992; Brousse, 1993). Unfortu- nately, it has generally been unclear whether these models actually do (...) have this implication (see, for instance, the extensive philosophical debate in Smolensky, 1988; Fodor and McLaughlin, 1990; van Gelder, 1990, 1991; McLaughlin, 1993a, 1993b; Clark, 1993). Indeed, we know of no major supporter of classical orthodoxy who has felt compelled, by connectionist models and argu- ments, to concede in print that connectionists have in fact delivered a non-classical explanation of systematicity. (shrink)
Argument mapping is a way of diagramming the logical structure of an argument to explicitly and concisely represent reasoning. The use of argument mapping in critical thinking instruction has increased dramatically in recent decades. This paper overviews the innovation and provides a procedural approach for new teaches wanting to use argument mapping in the classroom. A brief history of argument mapping is provided at the end of this paper.
systematicity is. Until systematicity is adequately systematicity. Most contributors to these debates have clarified, we cannot know whether classical paid little or no attention to the alleged empirical.
When the various disciplines participating in cognitive science are listed, philosophy almost always gets a guernsey. Yet, a couple of years ago at the conference of the Cognitive Science Society in Boulder (USA), there was no philosophy or philosopher with any prominence on the program. When queried on this point, the organizer (one of the "superstars" of the field) claimed it was partly an accident, but partly also due to an impression among members of the committee that philosophy is basically (...) a waste of time. Philosophy, they thought, is mostly obscure bullshit that does little to help, and much to hinder, real progress in cognitive science. (shrink)
“There is a familiar trio of reactions by scientists to a purportedly radical hypothesis: (a) “You must be our of your mind!”, (b) “What else is new? Everybody knows _that_!”, and, later—if the hypothesis is still standing—(c) “Hmm. You _might _be on to something!” ((Dennett, 1995) p. 283).
1. Consider the basic outlines of the mind-body debate as it is found in contemporary Anglo-American analytic philosophy. The central question is “whether mental phenomena are physical phenomena, and if not, how they relate to physical phenomena.”1 Over the centuries, a wide range of possible solutions to this problem have emerged. These are the various “isms” familiar to any student of the debate: Cartesian dualism, idealism, epiphenomenalism, central state materialism, non- reductive physicalism, anomalous monism, and so forth. Each purports to (...) specify, among other things, the metaphysical relationship between the mental and the physical. They do so by specifying whether, or in what way, mental entities are identical to, reducible to, realized by, supervenient upon, or in causal interaction with physical entities. Thus, a convenient way to survey the range of positions is to enter them in a table. Rows correspond to the major kinds of metaphysical relation which might obtain between mental and physical entities. Each columns corresponds to one of the generic positions available in the debate. The particular theories defended by individual philosophers are usually just specific versions of generic positions. Thus Malebranche’s occasionalism is a version of causal dualism, distinguished by a peculiar account of the way in which causal interaction between mental and physical is actually effected. The central philosophical challenge is to determine which of these positions correctly describes the mental/physical relationship. Positions are evaluated for internal consistency, their fit with “intuitions,” their compatibility with scientific developments, and so forth. The mind-body debate, in this simple form, is set out in any number of. (shrink)
Cognitive science has always been dominated by the idea that cognition is _computational _in a rather strong and clear sense. Within the mainstream approach, cognitive agents are taken to be what are variously known as _physical symbol_ _systems, digital computers_, _syntactic engines_, or_ symbol manipulators_. Cognitive operations are taken to consist in the shuffling of symbol tokens according to strict rules (programs). Models of cognition are themselves digital computers, implemented on general purpose electronic machines. The basic mathematical framework for understanding (...) cognition is the theory of discrete computation, and the core theoretical tools for developing and understanding models of cognition are those of computer science. (shrink)
There are many conflicting views concerning the nature of distributed representation, its compatibility or otherwise with symbolic representation, and its importance in characterizing the nature of connectionist models and their relationship to more traditional symbolic approaches to understanding cognition. Many have simply assumed that distribution is merely an implementation issue, and that symbolic mechanisms can be designed to take advantage of the virtues of distribution if so desired. Others, meanwhile, see the use of distributed representation as marking a fundamental difference (...) between the two approaches. One reason for this diversity of opinion is the fact that the relevant notions - especially that of. (shrink)
The nature of the dynamical hypothesis in cognitive science (the DH) is further clarified in responding to various criticisms and objections raised in commentaries. Major topics addressed include the definitions of “dynamical system” and “digital computer;” the DH as Law of Qualitative Structure; the DH as an ontological claim; the multiple-realizability of dynamical models; the level at which the DH is pitched; the nature of dynamics; the role of representations in dynamical cognitive science; the falsifiability of the DH; the extent (...) to which the DH is open; the role of temporal and implementation considerations; and the novelty or importance of the DH. The basic formulation and defense of the DH in the target article survives intact, though some refinements are recommended. (shrink)
been to define various notions of distribution in terms of represented by one and the same distributed pattern (Mur- structures of correspondence between the represented items dock 1979). For example, it is standard in feedforward and the representational resources (e.g., van Gelder 1992). connectionist networks for one and the same set of synap- This approach may be misguided; the essence of this alter- tic weights to represent many associations between input native category of representation might be some other prop- and (...) output. erty entirely. For example, Haugeland (1991) has suggested • Equipotentiality In some cases, an item is represented by. (shrink)
A couple of years ago I set a mundane homework assignment for my class of about 50 mid-level Arts students. They were to take one of the course readings - a chapter from How the Mind Works by Steven Pinker - and return in a week with a one page essay, in which they had identified and evaluated the author's main argument.
The traditional mind‐body debate is chronically unwell. Its problems are largely due to unwitting acceptance of four deep metaphysical assumptions. Rejecting those assumptions leads to a pluralist conception of the ontology of mind and a correspondingly complex account of the fit between mind and world.
A Neurocomputational Perspective , it comes of age as philosophy of mind as well. This book demands to be read by connectionists who wish to understand the philosophical context and ramifications of their work, and by philosophers who wish to understand connectionism and the nature of mind more generally.
Digital computers play a special role in cognitive science—they may actually be instances of the phenomenon they are being used to model. This paper surveys some of the main issues involved in understanding the relationship between digital computers and cognition. It sketches the role of digital computers within orthodox computational cognitive science, in the light of a recently emerging alternative approach based around dynamical systems.
Paper presented at Cognition, Evolution and Rationality: Cognitive Science for the 21st Century. Oporto, September 2002. To appear in a volume based on that conference edited by Antonio Jose Teiga Zilhao.
People generally develop some degree of competence in general informal reasoning and argument skills, but how do they go beyond this to attain higher expertise? Ericsson has proposed that high-level expertise in a variety of domains is cultivated through a specific type of practice, referred to as ‘deliberate practice’. Applying this framework yields the empirical hypothesis that high-level expertise in informal reasoning is the outcome of extensive deliberate practice. This paper reports results from two studies evaluating the hypothesis. University student (...) participants completed 12 weeks of deliberate practice in informal reasoning. Quantity of practice was recorded by computer, and additionally assessed via self report. The hypothesis was supported: students in both studies showed a large improvement, and practice as measured by computer, was related to amount of improvement in informal reasoning. These findings support adopting a deliberate practice approach when attempting to teach or learn expertise in informal reasoning. (shrink)
One of the classic papers of Australian feminist philosophy is G. Lloyd's "The Man of Reason" (Lloyd, 1979). The main concern of this paper is the alleged maleness of the Man of Reason, i.e., the thesis that our philosophical tradition in some deep way associates the concepts rational and male. Lloyd claims that her main goal is to bring this "undoubted" thesis "into clearer focus" (p.18), and indeed she makes no strenuous effort to demonstrate that the to-be-clarified thesis is actually (...) true. There are however a few places where she advances material she seems to be taking as some kind of evidence that the Man of Reason is male. One is on the second page, where she quotes from Augustine: And finally we see man, made in your image and likeness, ruling over all the irrational animals for the very reason that he was made in your image and resembles you, that is because he has the power of reason and understanding. And just as in man's soul there are two forces; on which is dominant because it deliberates and one which obeys because it is subject to such guidance, in the same way in the physical sense, woman has been made for man. In her mind and her rational intelligence she has a nature the equal of man's, but in sex she is physically subject to him in the same way as our natural impulses need to be subjected to the reasoning power of the mind, in order that the actions to which they lead may be inspired by the principles of good conduct. Now an interesting feature of this passage is that it appears to directly contradict the thesis of the maleness of the Man of Reason. Far from saying that rationality is a male prerogative, Augustine claims that "in her mind and her rational intelligence she has a nature the equal of man's" (my emphasis). Certainly Augustine claims that in sex woman is subject to man, and he also claims that there is an analogy or parallel between the dominance of man over woman in sex and the dominance of the rational part of the mind over the natural impulses.. (shrink)
b> Critical thinking is highly valued but difficult to teach effectively. The Reason! project at the University of Melbourne has developed the Reason!Able software as part of a general method aimed at enhancing critical thinking skills. Students using Reason!Able appear to make dramatic gains. This paper describes the challenge involved, the theoretical basis of the Reason! project, the Reason!Able software, and results of intensive evaluation of the Reason! approach.
The goal of the Reason! project is to develop an effective and affordable method for improving informal reasoning. In this paper we sketch the background to the project, briefly describe the Reason! software, and report positive results from a detailed study of the first full-scale trial.
Lachman claims that the Dynamical Hypothesis (DH) is “untenable.” His own position is a version of the “The DH is epistemological, not ontological,” objection to the target article, which is dealt with in section R2.3 of my original response (van Gelder 1998r). Additional objections are that the coverage of the hypothesis is “vast” and that the DH presupposes we have reached the end point of scientific theorizing. Indeed, the DH is very broad, but it does not presuppose that science has (...) ended; that's why we call it a “hypothesis.”. (shrink)
Are any nonhuman animals rational? What issues are we raising when we ask this question? Are there different kinds or levels of rationality, some of which fall short of full human rationality? Should any behaviour by nonhuman animals be regarded as rational? What kinds of tasks can animals successfully perform? What kinds of processes control their performance at these tasks, and do they count as rational processes? Is it useful or theoretically justified to raise questions about the rationality of animals (...) at all? Should we be interested in whether they are rational? Why does it matter? (shrink)
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