Friday, September 24, 2010

Do we have a winner?

So, it is back to Wilson's "Meaning making ..." where I think we find an instance of the C-C fallacy.
Common to both active cognition and cyborg fantasy arguments for extended cognition is the idea that by examining just what is involved in the exercise of some particular cognitive capacity, one finds that it actually does or could well involve causal loops that extend beyond the body of the individual agent. In particular, these causal loops (do or may) pass through objects and other entities in the agent's environment, and it is only the whole, functioning, beyond-the-head causal system that constitutes the matter in motion that realizes the exercise of the capacity. (Wilson, 2010, p. 173).
So, first of all, it's nice to have another example of the advocates of EC invoking the language of causation and constitution.  Further support for my contention that Ross and Ladyman should be directing their critique not just at Adams and Aizawa, but at least at a large number of advocates of EC.

Second, in the second sentence, it looks to me as though Wilson is moving from an observation about the causal contribution of some extracortical processes to cognitive processing to a conclusion about the constitutive contribution of these extracortical processes. What else could be going on?
... Adams and Aizawa (2001) on Clark and Chalmers (1998), Grush (2003) on Haugeland (1998), and, most recently, Rupert (2004) largely on Rowlands (1999). For the most part, these critiques have to reconstruct, sometimes quite imaginatively, the arguments that they critique, leaving one with the feeling that externalists must surely have something more up their sleeves than what their critics draw from the hat. (Wilson, 2010, p. 173)
And I agree that one has to use some imagination to try to figure out what the EC arguments are supposed to be.  But, the only thing that seems to me to make sense of the text is the C-C fallacy.  Of course, that's not a good argument, which is a defeasible reason to think that the reading is incorrect.

But, then again, "philosopher makes mistake" is not news, right?  Yes, it would be great to think that the EC folks have something more up their sleeves, but what is it?  Adams and I have also taken into consideration the stuff about loops, "trust and glue", etc., etc.  I feel as though we are still waiting.

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