Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Benighted Methodology

I'm kind of surprised at the popularity of replies to the Adams and Aizawa that are based on attributing to us some benighted methodology.  According to Rob Wilson, with our concern for the mark of the cognitive, we are doing conceptual analysis.  According to Tony Chemero, we are doing a priori metaphysics.  According to Susan Hurley, with drawing attention to the role of causation versus constitution, we are doing metaphysics in advance of looking to actual scientific practice.  According to Ladyman and Ross, by drawing attention to the c-c distinction, we are doing primitive analytic metaphysics.

But, as I see things, the debate over EC involves both conceptual issues and empirical issues.  So, suppose you think that physical actions are constitutive of perceptual experiences, rather than mere causal influences on perceptual experiences.  Then, there is a need for some conceptual clarity regarding causation versus constitution.  It's a distinction that is found in actual cognitive science, rather than stylized cognitive science.  It's more than just a philosopher's fiction.  Moreover, there is plenty of empirical evidence that bears on the claim that physical actions are constitutive of perceptual experiences.  The Bounds of Cognition, Chapter 9, bears this out by mixing both conceptual matters and empirical matters.

I think that working through philosophical issues in cognitive science in a serious way involves both conceptual/theoretical and empirical issues.  I don't see that I differ from Wilson, Chemero, Hurley, Ladyman, or Ross very much at all when it comes to a philosophical methodology of taking cognitive science seriously.  Where we seem to find real differences is in the consequences we draw from taking cognitive science seriously.

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