Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Ross & Ladyman's "Alleged Coupling-Constitution Fallacy" 2

extended mind thesis and its internalist rival can be interpreted as alternative claims about what kind of ontology of systems any cognitive model should presuppose.  The idea that there might be a justified general such claim about all cognitive models, which could rationally be made in advance of tackling specific modeling problems one at a time, would have to be based either on a universal tractability constraint or on metaphysics. (Ross & Ladyman, 2010, p. 156).
Two things here.

I) I don't see the internalist/externalist debate as, in the first instance, offering alternative claims about what kind of ontology of systems any cognitive model should presuppose.  There is some question about what the ontology of cognition is--e.g., whether cognition involves representations--but once that is settled the core question becomes where in the world one finds those bits of ontology.  So, ontology is, at most, only part of what is in play in the EC debates.

II) I think that Ross and Ladyman are missing what is going on in the EC literature.  They refer to this "idea that there might be a justified general such claim about all cognitive models, which could rationally be made in advance of tackling specific modeling problems one at a time".  But, Rupert, Adams and I take it that there has been this enterprise of cognitive psychology that has been going on for some decades and that one can extract from that some basic conclusions about cognitive ontology.  In fact, I think that most parties to the EC debate probably agree to the method of abstracting conclusions about cognitive ontology from actual scientific practice. (Maybe not the same scientific practice, mind you.  Some folks extrapolate from Gibson, where others extrapolate from other sources.)  Where parties to the EC debate differ is in what they think is correct to abstract from that actual scientific practice.

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