Monday, August 23, 2010

Ross & Ladyman's "Alleged Coupling-Constitution Fallacy" 1

This paper began life as an account of how Adams and Aizawa were stuck in the 17th Century with immature (pre-?)scientific metaphysical assumptions about causation and constitution.

After a very enjoyable dinner at King's College, Cambridge, (hosted by Mark Sprevak as part of a workshop on Computation in Cognitive Science), I was able to encourage James to revisit the draft of the paper that I had seen.  I proposed that the problems they had with causation and constitution were not the doing of Adams and Aizawa, but were part and parcel of much of the EC debate.  So, now the paper is about how (almost?) everyone in the EC debate is stuck in the 17th Century with immature (pre-?)scientific metaphysical assumptions about causation and constitution.

Ross and Ladyman should be happy about this revision, since they are now going after more and bigger fish than just Adams and Aizawa.  Adams and I are happy, since now the mess is not our fault.

One of the challenges of responding to the Ross-Ladyman critique, however, is that they are not so much interested in adjudicating the particular issues that arise in the EC debate as they are making the case that everything must go.

Nevertheless, I think that even though they are now dumping on the whole EC debate, they are coming down a bit too hard.  I won't try to "refute" the criticisms so much as try to make it less obvious that the whole EC debate is mired in the useless and primitive.  (A modest goal to be sure...)

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