Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Ramsey on the Worry about the C-C Fallacy

All of these authors make a strong case for thinking that various outer, non-biological elements that are markedly different from internal elements are nevertheless important (indeed, necessary) for specific cognitive tasks and activities. They make a strong case for a high degree of integration. Unfortunately, they fail to make a strong case for treating these integrated external structures as parts of an expanded mind. There is nothing here, as far as I can see, that would alleviate the worry that EMH is based upon a coupling-constitution fallacy. ...
What these authors need, but do not really provide, is an argument for treating external structures as not only important for (and integrated with) cognitive systems during various cognitive tasks -- something Adams and Aizawa are happy to concede -- but for also treating them as actually mental states. Why, for example, should the actor's stage artifacts and props be treated as elements of an expanded cognitive system, instead of as, more conventionally, non-cognitive mnemonic tools that aid the actor's memory? Sutton doesn't really tell us. Menary offers the proposal that external elements are not mere tools because biological minds act upon them and vice versa -- that they are reciprocally integrated with one another. But that is hardly a convincing justification for thinking something is part of something else (when chopping wood, I am reciprocally integrated with an ax, but that doesn't make the ax part of me).  ...
In large measure, the essays supporting second-wave EMH in this volume do not answer the coupling-constitution fallacy so much as they simply ignore it.
Go, Bill!

It seems to me that it's one thing for the advocates of EC to say that they do not commit the simplistic C-C fallacy, but another to consistently flesh out their case studies in such a way as to respect a fixed set of conditions on coupling "in the right way".  When ECists leave out the conditions that are supposed to articulate their idea of "in the right way", it looks like they are trying to skate by on the fallacy.

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