Monday, May 10, 2010

The "EC = Science, Anti-EC = a priori speculation" meme 1

A while ago, someone (Garzon or Keijzer I suppose) posted a link on this blog to a paper, "Cognition in Plants" by Paco Calvo Garzon and Fred Keijzer. 
In this chapter, we will discuss the question whether an extended reading of cognition, as developed within Embodied Cognition might apply to plants. Within Embodied Cognition, the notion of cognition – being based on perception and action – is used to make sense of a wide range of behaviors exhibited by ‘simple’ animals, like nematodes or flies. The message is clearly that we should set generalizing dismissive intuitions concerning such animals aside and go for a more empirically informed approach. We believe that this open attitude is also beneficial to the study of possible cognitive phenomena in plants. (p. 2).
Clearly, there is a widespread preference for empirically informed approaches, rather than mere intuition.  But, why suppose that the status quo is empirically uninformed?  In the case at hand, we might think that botanists and psychologists have made the empirical discovery that plants don't think.  Why think otherwise?

This is worth challenging, since Garzon and Keijzer are not the only ones who try to paint anti-EC views as methodologically backward.  In fact, as I will try to document in coming days, it is a fairly common meme in the EC literature.

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