Sunday, December 11, 2011

Chancellor’s Fellowships in Edinburgh

(Originally posted by Mark Sprevak over at Brains.)

Chancellor’s Fellowships
Humanities and Social Science
University of Edinburgh

The University of Edinburgh, a global top 20 University located in one of the world’s fine cities, is making a major investment in the future of its academic staff with the  appointment of prestigious tenure-track Fellowships across all disciplines. These 5-year Fellowships are intended to support outstanding candidates at the start of their independent academic career. Up to 100 positions are available.

A Chancellor’s Fellow will already show the ability to conduct world-leading research and exhibit clear potential to become an international leader in their discipline. The Fellow will be able to concentrate on research in the first instance, acquiring the full duties of University Lecturer across the period of the Fellowship. Subject to satisfactory review at the end of 3 years, the Fellow will move to an open contract on the University academic staff.

Appointment will normally be made on the Lecturer scale (£36,862 - £44,016), dependent on experience, and in exceptional circumstances a more senior appointment may be made. Some positions are available with immediate effect and it is expected that successful applicants will be in post from August 2012.

Applications containing a detailed CV and a 1-page outline of a proposed research programme should be made online at www.jobs.ed.ac.uk to meet one of the closing dates below. General advice may be obtained by emailing chancellorsfellows@ed.ac.uk and specific details may be obtained from the appropriate Head of School.

Salary Scale: £36,862 - £44,016
Please quote vacancy reference: 3015150JW
Closing dates: 16 January, 29 February and 16 April 2012

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Embodied Cognition at Oxford Bibliographies Online

Embodiment and Embodied Cognition
by Stephen Flusberg, Lera Boroditsky

Requires a subscription to see the whole deal.

Link.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Systematicity and the Post-Connectionist Era, from MIT Press

So, Paco Calvo and John Symons are getting together a selection of papers based on their workshop from last summer.  It will be published by MIT Press and feature contributions from Tony Chemero, Brian McLaughlin, Steven Philips, and me.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

What Science Offers the Humanities: Integrating Body and Culture by Edward Slingerland

What Science Offers the Humanities examines some of the deep problems facing current approaches to the study of culture. It focuses especially on the excesses of postmodernism but also acknowledges serious problems with postmodernism’s harshest critics.In short, Edward Slingerland argues that, in order for the humanities to progress, its scholars need to take seriously contributions from the natural sciences – in particular research on human cognition – which demonstrate that any separation of the mind and body is entirely untenable. The author provides suggestions for how humanists might begin to utilize these scientific discoveries without conceding that science has the last word on morality, religion, art, and literature. Calling into question such deeply entrenched dogmas as the “blank slate” theory of nature, strong social constructivism, and the ideal of disembodied reason, What Science Offers the Humanities replaces the humanities-sciences divide with a more integrated approach to the study of culture.

Edward Slingerland taught in the School of Religion and the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures at the University of Southern California, where he was recipient of  the 2002 General Education Teaching Award. He is currently an associate professor of Asian Studies and a Canada Research Chair in Chinese Thought and EmbodiedCog-nition at the University of British Columbia. His previous books include The Analects of Confucius and Effortless Action: Wu-wei as Conceptual Metaphor and Spiritual Ideal in Early China, which won the American Academy of Religion’s 2003 Best First Book in the History of Religions Award.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Good news for me

I mentioned this a while back on Google+, but since the blog has a wider readership, I though I might mention this here as well. 

I received a fellowship from the Ruhr University, Bochum, to spend 2.5 months there next summer, mid-May to the end of July. I'll be working on empathy, mirror neurons, and the role of action in perception. I will be at the Center for Mind, Brain, and Cognitive EvolutionAlbert Newen and Tobias Schlict will be my hosts there.

Aside from escaping from the heat, humidity, and allergens of the southern US, I'll get to think about some interesting philosophical topics with good colleagues.

Embodied Cognition in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

This has actually been out for a few months, but that fact probably deserves some notice.  The entry is a daunting 73 page affair (in PDF) that seems to me to lay out matters in interesting ways.

Whiting Reivew of Maise's Embodiment, Emotion and Cognition

At the NDPR.  Notice near the end that Whiting is all over the causation/constitution distinction..

Friday, October 14, 2011

Amsterdam Graduate Philosophy Conference: Internalism v. Externalism

16-17 December 2011

Department of Philosophy
Institute for Logic, Language and Computation
Universiteit van Amsterdam

The 4th Amsterdam Graduate Philosophy Conference on ‘Internalism versus Externalism’ is devoted to explore how this distinction relates to problems in philosophy of language, philosophy of mind, epistemology, and philosophy of action.
Confirmed invited speakers:
  • Martin Kusch (Vienna)
  • Joëlle Proust (Paris)
  • Michael Wheeler (Stirling)
Please visit the conference website at http://www.illc.uva.nl/agpc/agpc11/, or email agpc@uva.nl

MSc in Mind, Language & Embodied Cognition—University of Edinburgh

University of Edinburgh
The Mind and Cognition group at the University of Edinburgh invite applications for a taught MSc programme (commencing September 2012) in Mind, Language and Embodied Cognition. Students will tackle the key questions that are at the heart of the recent renaissance in the philosophical and scientific study of the embodied and environmentally embedded mind. The programme draws on teaching from across the university, but students will be based in the School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences. In addition to courses offered as a part of the programme students will have the opportunity to enrol on relevant courses in Psychology, Linguistics, Informatics, and beyond.

For more information about the MSc, including online application procedures, see: http://www.philosophy.ed.ac.uk/phil_students/postgraduate/msc_in_mind_language_and_embodied_cognition.php
Funding opportunities for MSc students are available: http://www.philosophy.ed.ac.uk/phil_students/postgraduate/postgraduate_funding.php.
Informal enquiries may be sent to the program director, Mark Sprevak (mark.sprevak@ed.ac.uk)
Edinburgh provides a world-leading environment to study philosophy of mind and cognitive science. The Mind and Cognition group include as Core Faculty:
  • Andy Clark, working on the philosophical foundations of cognitive science and mind as an embodied and situated phenomenon.
  • Jesper Kallestrup works on mind and metaphysics, and provides a bridge to the Epistemology grouping led by Duncan Pritchard.
  • Jane Suilin Lavelle joined the group in April 2011, and works on social cognition and theory of mind.
  • Matthew Nudds, working on the philosophy of perception and action, with a special focus on auditory perception
  • Mark Sprevak joined the group in January 2011, and works on metaphysical and epistemological issues in philosophy of mind and cognitive science.
  • Tillmann Vierkant works on agency and the will and provides a bridge to the world-class Ethics grouping led by Mike Ridge.
  • Dave Ward joined the group in August 2011, and works on philosophy of mind with a special focus on the role of perception and action in cognition.
In addition, there are a number of other members of faculty with interests in mind and cognition, including Matthew Chrisman, Pauline Phemister, Mike Ridge, and Duncan Pritchard. The group benefits hugely from regular contact with the nearby School of Informatics, Departments of Psychology, and Linguistics, and the Human Cognitive Neuroscience unit.
Regular seminars and reading groups include:
For more information on Mind and Cognition in Edinburgh, see: http://www.ppls.ed.ac.uk/philosophy/groups/mind-cognition-edinburgh

Friday, October 7, 2011

The Extended Mind and WE-ness: How Far Can It Stretch Without Breaking?- William Rottschaefer

The Extended Mind and WE-ness: How Far Can It Stretch Without Breaking?- William Rottschaefer (Lewis & Clark College)

Date: November 18, 3:30am - 5:00pm
Location: J.R. Howard Hall
 
Advocates of cognitive extension argue that the human mind super-sizes itself by embodying itself in a body, embedding itself in an epistemic environment and uniting itself with both in extended cognitive agency.  Call this the 3E-ness thesis.  In this paper, I propose a strong version of 3E-ness, WE-ness: In some instances super-sizing results in the creation of a plural subject, a WE.  I outline the ontological lineaments of WE-ness, distinguishing it from other forms of situated cognition, and suggest a bio-cultural model of its origin based on a biological model of the emergence of multi-cellular life from single- celled life.  I then examine recent findings and theories in developmental psychology concerning we-intentionality and its features of normative and supra-personal intentionality.  Developmental psychologist Michael Tomasello has argued that we-intentionality has played a central role in the social/cultural achievements that distinguish humans from their primate cousins.  Drawing on these findings, I argue that we-intentionality and its consequences suggest WE-ness for their bases.  I then lay out an argument for the existence of WE-ness based on a bio-cultural account of its origin and maintenance, indicating how we-intentionality might play in a role in those processes.  Finally, I examine three major objections to the extended mind thesis that also raise problems for WE-ness.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Casey M. Rufener: "The Four-Color Theorem Solved, Again"

The Four-Color Theorem Solved, Again: Extending the Extended Mind to the Philosophy of
Mathematics

Abstract
In 1977 when Appel, Haken and Koch used a computer to mathematically solve the century old four-color problem philosopher Thomas Tymoczko thought that the epistemic justification in mathematics had been changed. Essentially, Tymoczko, and others, argue we can now have mathematical epistemic justification through a posteriori means. This has obvious implication in philosophy of mathematics and epistemology because this would be the first case where mathematics isn’t justified through a priori means of investigation. However, I ultimately disagree with Tymoczko. I argue that computer-aided-proofs still warrant an a priori means of justification. In order to show this, I refer to advances in philosophy of mind, mainly, the extended mind thesis. ). I will argue that our mind has evolved to enter into symbiotic relationships with non-organic entities in order to offload certain internal capacities. I believe that this is what constitutes humans amazing gift of rationality and intelligence. Thus, when we use a computer-aided-proof to solve unsurveyable proofs, we are really extending our minds into these cognitive tools and extending our method of proof checking to be more efficient and quicker. Thus, the a priori is saved because the computer is just a part of the causal cognitive loop that constitutes our mind.

Andrew Blitzer: What Extended Mind Thesis?

At the Australian National University:
Date and time: 
Tue, 02/08/2011 - 16:00 - 18:00
 
Location: 
Coombs Seminar Room B

Abstract: Alonzo Church (1958) argued that “no discussion of an ontological question ... can be regarded as intelligible unless it obeys a definite criterion of ontological commitment.” In this paper, I apply Church’s standard to discussions of the Extended Mind Thesis (EMT).  Such discussions, I argue, are presently defective (if not unintelligible) because extended mind theorists vacillate systematically and indiscriminately between ontological and non-ontological articulations of their thesis. I present strong textual evidence to this effect, and head off some natural objections. The conclusion of this paper suggests a way forward.  I urge extended mind theorists to abandon the ontological articulation of EMT.  If their basic aim is what they say it is—namely to promote cognitive scientific progress—then the ontological dimension of their enterprise is dead weight.  Or so I contend.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Shreveport Zombie Walk

Just when I was (again) thinking that nothing ever happens in Shreveport we get this.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

O'Regan Book

O’Regan, J. K. (2011). Why Red Doesn’t Sounds Like a Bell: Understanding the feel of consciousness. New York, NY: Oxford University Press

(H/T to Tom Froese at Life and Mind Seminars.)

May Travels



It's impressive what Apple's iMovie and Garage Band will let someone with zero talent (like me) do.  But, I think the novelty of this wears off pretty quickly.

I got to do what is, for me, a lot of traveling.  But, it's nothing to compared Colin Allen's 15 cities in 9 countries on four continents and two planets this semester.

I had hoped to get back to more blogging this June, but I am not sure, since I have a very full writing schedule for the summer.  Anyway, after a nice Memorial Day with the kids and grandkids, it's back to nose to the grindstone.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Group Photo from the Computation, Realization, and the Brain Workshop


Thanks to Eli Dresner, Oron Shagrir, and Maya Zuckerman for putting this workshop together!  Excellent papers, good people, and a stunning venue.

Zednik: Mental Mechanisms and the Extended Mind

Carlos Zednik 
Indiana University Cognitive Science Program 
June 2010

Abstract:
Robert Rupert (2004) challenges the Extended Mind Hypothesis on the grounds that it appears to undermine the viability and productivity of cognitive science. In this paper, I respond to Rupert’s challenge by questioning his construal of cognitive scientific practice. Although the Extended Mind Hypothesis may in fact threaten the viability of a cognitive science that seeks the discovery of law‐like generalizations, cognitive scientists typically seek to describe the mechanisms that underlie such generalizations. By acknowledging the role of mechanistic explanation in contemporary cognitive scientific practice, I argue that the Extended Mind Hypothesis presents no threat to our current and future understanding of mind and cognition.

Link here.



New book by Georg Theiner

Res Cogitans Extensa: A Philosophical Defense of the Extended Mind Thesis.


Georg will also be moving to Villanova this summer to start teaching next year.

Well done, Georg, and glad to have you back stateside.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Embodiment of Life: The Legacy of Francisco Varela

conference at City University London, Wednesday June 1, in the Birley Lecture Theatre of the Centenary Building.
Description: 
Francisco Varela was one of the most innovative and influential cognitive scientists of the last 50 years. His unique ability to blend deep knowledge of neuroscience, European philosophy and Tibetan Buddhism has had a profound affect on our understanding of the immune system, embodied cognition, and the relationship between brain and consciousness. To mark the 10th anniversary of his untimely death, this symposium brings together some of those who knew Francisco and explores the way his work continues to guide investigations of human nature of many different kinds.
Among those taking part will be Stephen Batchelor (Buddhist teacher), Michel Bitbol (Philosopher), Paul Bourgine (Engineer), John Protevi (Philosopher) and Antonino Raffone (Neuroscientist).
Registration here. Program here.

(From John Protevi's post at New APPS)

Menary to Macquarie

Congrats to Richard on his taking up a post July 1, 2011 at Macquarie University in the Centre for Cognition and its Disorders and the Department of Philosophy.



Thursday, May 19, 2011

Special Issue on Extended Mind in Teorema

Table of contents here.


Á. GARCÍA RODRÍGUEZ
An Extended View of Mind and and Cognition
T. BITTNER
Parity Cuts Both Ways: Split Brains and Extended Cognition
J. KIVERSTEIN and M. FARINA
Embraining Culture: Leaky Minds and Spongy Brains
R. MANZOTTI
The Spread Mind: is Consciousness Situated?
J. PARTHEMORE
Of Boundaries and Metaphysical Starting Points: Why the Extended Mind Cannot Be So Lightly Dismissed
L. MCKINNELL
We Are the World: Environmental Rights and the Extended Self
G. VICARI
The Self Between Vehicle Externalism and the Myth of the Cartesian Theatre


Thanks to Leslie Marsh for posting a link.

Congrats to Chemero

He receives honors at Franklin and Marshall.  Info here.

Friday, May 6, 2011

COGS Seminar, University of Sussex

University of Sussex, Falmer, Brighton BN1 9QN

Tuesday May 10, 4pm Pevensey I, Room 1A7


Perception, Action, and the Extended Mind

Professor Mike Wheeler
School of Arts and Humanities: Philosophy
University of Stirling\


Abstract

According to the extended cognition hypothesis (henceforth ExC), there are actual (in-this-world) cases in which thinking and thoughts (more precisely, the material vehicles that realize thinking and thoughts) are spatially distributed over brain, body and world, in such a way that the external (beyond-the-skin) factors concerned are rightly accorded cognitive status (where 'cognitive status' signals whatever status it is that we ordinarily grant the brain in orthodox, non-extended cognitive theory). David Chalmers, one of the original architects of ExC, has recently articulated an objection to the view which turns on the claim that the idea of cognitive extension is in conflict with an intuitive thought that we ought to preserve. Chalmers puts that intuitive thought like this: 'It is natural to hold that perception is the interface where the world affects the mind, and that action is the interface where the mind affects the world. If so, it is tempting to hold that what precedes perception and what follows action is not truly mental.' Chalmers proceeds to offer a defence of ExC against the worry. In my talk I'll (i) set the scene with some comments about how one ought to understand ExC (comments that involve some criticisms of Andy Clark's version of the view), (ii) explain Chalmers' objection and his response to it, (iii) argue that Chalmers' response fails, and (iv) suggest that we should solve the problem by ditching the intuitive thought. This final move will enable me to address a challenge that, up until now, has arguably not been met successfully by advocates of ExC, that is, to say what consequences the view has for empirical work in cognitive science and psychology.


Mike Wheeler is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Stirling. Prior to joining Stirling Philosophy in 2004, he held teaching and research posts at the Universities of Dundee, Oxford, and Stirling (a previous appointment). His doctoral work was carried out in the School of Cognitive and Computing Sciences at the University of Sussex. His primary research interests are in philosophy of science (especially cognitive science, psychology, biology, artificial intelligence and artificial life) and philosophy of mind. He also works on Heidegger and is interested in exploring ideas at the interface between the analytic and the contemporary European traditions in philosophy. His book, Reconstructing the Cognitive World: the Next Step, was published by MIT Press in 2005.


Messages to the list are archived at http://listserv.liv.ac.uk/archives/philos-l.html.
Prolonged discussions should be moved to chora: enrol via
http://listserv.liv.ac.uk/archives/chora.html.
Other philosophical resources on the Web can be found at http://www.liv.ac.uk/pal.

Ph.D. Research Fellowship (2 Positions) in Philosophy

Marie Curie Initial Training Network Ph.D. Fellowship Positions University of Hertfordshire, UK ‘TESIS’ (Towards and Embodied Science of Intersubjectivity)

The University of Hertfordshire is inviting applications for 2 Ph.D. fellowship positions in philosophy to join 15 other bright, highly motivated graduate students and postdocs at the network universities in Europe, to do interdisciplinary empirical and conceptual research on topics that involve intersubjectivity and social cognition.

TESIS – Towards an Embodied Science of InterSubjectivity – is an integrated ITN programme to investigate the foundations of human sociality. It integrates the complementary expertise of 13 European research institutes, clinical centres and private enterprises from the fields of philosophy, cognitive neuroscience, developmental psychology and psychiatry/psychosomatics to advance our understanding of human intersubjectivity. Its major goal is to replace the static, individualistic paradigm still dominant in social cognition research with a comprehensive framework for embodied intersubjectivity applicable in the biomedical sciences, the humanities, and society in general. Thus, it intends to show how we become human by embodied interaction with others from early infancy.

Starting date for the positions is 01 October 2011.
The TESIS research group at Hertfordshire will investigate (1) enactive and extended cognition in social institutional contexts and (2) embodied approaches to cultural expression and intersubjective experience.

The TESIS program offers rich opportunities for interdisciplinary theoretical and empirical research. The fellows will participate actively in an international training network with expertise in the investigation of intersubjectivity and embodiment. This network is funded by the European Commission FP7 and provides ideal research and training opportunities during a three-year training programme consisting of high impact workshops, summer schools and conferences.

Please make your application online at http://www.herts.ac.uk/jobs/ (under Research Vacancies). Closing date for applications: May 31, 2011.

International applications welcome. Note: Candidates should have a
good command of English. To encourage mobility, successful candidates may
have spent at most 12 out of the last 36 months in the UK before
appointment. Qualified women are especially encouraged to apply.

Informal inquiries to
Professor Shaun Gallagher: gallaghr33@gmail.com or
Professor Daniel D. Hutto: d.d.hutto@herts.ac.uk

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Postdoctoral Fellowship in the Network for Research on the Senses

Via the Mind Network blog ...

University of Toronto
The Network for Research on the Senses invites applications for one Post-Doctoral Fellowship. Applicants should have a PhD in philosophy, and research expertise in the philosophy of perception from a relevant scientific perspective. The Fellowship is open to citizens of all countries.

The Network for Research on the Senses is a partnership of philosophers of perception at Toronto (Mohan Matthen), London (Barry Smith), Harvard (Susanna Siegel), Glasgow (Fiona Macpherson), and MIT (Alex Byrne), funded by a Partnership Development Grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. Over the next two academic years, the Network will conduct six interdisciplinary workshops on multimodal perception, relations between perception and cognition, the individuation of the senses, and other related topics. Teams of graduate students from the five institutions will report on these workshops; their summaries will form the basis of a web-forum to which all qualified researchers will have access.

The Fellow will have duties relating to the organization of the workshops, the supervision of graduate participation, and the editing of the web forum. This will involve travel to the workshops, and interaction with researchers in philosophy and other disciplines at the five partner institutions and elsewhere. The Fellow will thus gain valuable experience in the practice and administration of collaborative research activity. S/he will be expected to conduct an active program of research, and will have extensive access to the investigators named above and others at the partner institutions.

The Fellowship will be tenable for a two-year period in the Network Centre for Research in the Senses at the University of Toronto, Mississauga, beginning July or August 2011. The fellowship stipend is C$37,000 per year, with a $2,000 per annum personal research allowance.

Candidates who will receive their PhD degree by December 2011 are eligible to apply; however, they must submit a letter confirming their completion.
Applicants must submit the following materials in electronic form by June 1, 2011:
  1. A letter of application, including a statement of current research interests (outlining the research to be undertaken during the term of fellowship).
  2. Curriculum vitae.
  3. The names of three referees.
  4. A writing sample, which may be published work, an extract from their dissertation, or a draft of work in progress (not to exceed 25 pages).
Applications should be sent to:
Carla DeMarco at car.demarco@utoronto.ca. Please put “Network PDF Application” in the subject line of the application.

See: http://philosophy.utoronto.ca/undergraduate/utm/continuously-posted-notices/post-doc%20ad.doc/view for more details

Philosophy and the Brain: Computation, Realization, Representation

This workshop at the Institute for Advanced Studies at the Hebrew University in a couple of weeks will be very nice.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Congrats, Richard!

Winner of a UoW Vice-Chancellor's Award. 

Now if we can only persuade him to channel all that work for the good guys...

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Extended Cognition Workshop -- Amsterdam, June 27th-28th 2011

To mark the end of Catarina Dutilh Novaes’ VENI-project on formal languages and
the new appointment of Julian Kiverstein at the philosophy department of the
University of Amsterdam, a workshop on extended cognition will take place in
Amsterdam on June 27th--28th (afternoon on the 27th, whole day on the 28th), in
the Oudemanhuispoort building of the university. The focus will be on
conceptions of extended cognition in the spirit of ‘second-wave EM’ (Sutton) or
‘cognitive integration’ (Menary).

Invited speakers:
        * Richard Menary (Wollongong), TBA
        * Julian Kiverstein (Edinburgh/Amsterdam), TBA
        * Helen de Cruz (Leuven), "Extended cognition in mathematical practice: The
case of Chinese algebra"
        * John Protevi (LSU), "Extended Cognition, extended responsibility: cyborgs in
modern warfare"
        * Catarina Dutilh Novaes (Amsterdam), "Formal languages in logic and extended
cognition"

Contributed papers:
        * Bryce Huebner (Georgetown), "Responsibility for socially scaffolded minds"
        * Joel Krueger (Copenhagen), "Extended cognition and shared emotions"
        * Erik Myin (Antwerp), "Bound by parity?"
        * Jurgis Skilters et al. (Latvia), "Extended selves in distributed social
networks"
        * Mirko Farina (Edinburg), "Finding my Mind: a Case for Extended Cognition"


REGISTRATION: The workshop is open to all, but please register by sending an
email to  cdutilhnovaes [youknowwhat] yahoo.com no later than June 13th (a small
registration fee of EUR 10 will be charged on the spot to cover for catering).
For further inquiries, contact Catarina Dutilh Novaes at cdutilhnovaes
[youknowwhat] yahoo.com

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Computation in Action by Erik Myin

COGNITION IN ACTION LECTURE SERIES


"Computation in Action "
by  Erik Myin
(Universiteit Antwerpen)


Monday April 18, at 4.30 pm
Room 104
University of Milan, via Festa del Perdono 3


Abstract
In this talk, I contrast the idea of computation as an overt activity of a person, as when someone calculates on a blackboard, with the  idea of computation as inner activity that can be carried out by neurons or neural networks. I argue that the active notion is fundamental, both in a logical and a historical sense. That is, Turing’s concept of mechanical computation was derived from the idea of active computation, and the latter remains necessary to make sense of the former. It follows from all this, so I will argue, that the concept of inner computation, as allegedly carried out by neurons or neural networks, has a much more restricted range of application than usually assumed. Then I turn to the question whether the notion of active computation can be applied beyond its paradigmatic context or norm-bound symbol manipulation, to perception. Can persons be said to compute three-dimensional depth by moving their eyes, heads and bodies? Finally, I address the question whether and in what sense overt computational activity whether can be ‘internalized’, for example when a person performs mental arithmetic.


More info: http://neurophilosophy.unimi.it/


Corrado Sinigaglia
Department of Philosophy
University of Milan
via Festa del Perdono 7
20122 Milano - Italy
e-mail corrado.sinigag...@unimi.it
http://dipartimento.filosofia.unimi.it/index.php/corrado-sinigaglia/
http://neurophilosophy.unimi.it
http://moregeometrico.unimi.it

Monday, March 28, 2011

Extended cognition workshop – Amsterdam, June 27th-28th 2011


To mark the end of Catarina Dutilh Novaes’ VENI-project on formal languages and the new appointment of Julian Kiverstein at the philosophy department of the University of Amsterdam, a workshop on extended cognition will take place in Amsterdam on June 27th--28th (exact location to be determined).
Confirmed speakers so far are:
  • Richard Menary (Wollongong)
  • Julian Kiverstein (Edinburgh/Amsterdam)
  • Helen de Cruz (Leuven) 
  • John Protevi (LSU) 
  • Catarina Dutilh Novaes (Amsterdam) 
There will also be a few slots for contributed papers. We are looking in particular (though not exclusively) for papers in the spirit of ‘second-wave EM’ (Sutton) or ‘cognitive integration’ (Menary). Abstracts of around 500 words should be sent to cdutilhnovaes [youknowwhat] yahoo.com no later than April 10th.
Deadline for submission: April 10th 2011.
Notification of acceptance: April 27th 2011.
Workshop: June 27th-28th
 For further inquiries, contact Catarina Dutilh Novaes at cdutilhnovaes [youknowwhat] yahoo.com

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Ken Aizawa and Carl Gillett: "The Autonomy of Psychology in the Age of Neuroscience"

Our latest paper on multiple realization is now out in this collection, Causality in the Sciences, edited by Phyllis McKay Illari, Federica Russo, and Jon Williamson.

Monday, March 14, 2011

SSPP 2011

The SSPP this past weekend in New Orleans was fun, though my nursing a cold the whole time put a damper on things.  The meds were making me a little slower than usual.

Tom Polger gave what was probably the best SSPP Presidential address I've ever seen.  Philosophically interesting, but laced with humor and a good pace.  Reminded me that I have written on stuff besides extended cognition.

In my session on Ecological Psychology, I was impressed with the uniformity of message.  Shockley and Riley had much the same talking points as Andrew and Gary.  It was reassuring to me to find Gary Hatfield, Larry Shapiro, Carl Gillett, and Tom Polger worried about the same sorts of things that I was.  So, it's not just me.

Last year, many (it seemed to me, though that's just an off-the-cuff guess ... I didn't actually count) of the papers that were given at the SSPP were subsequently also given at the SPP. 


I'm already looking forward to next year in Savannah.  I'm especially looking forward to it, since I'll be free of the officer duties that I've had for so many years.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Post-doctoral position on the Theoretical Foundations of Embodied Cognition

Organization: Department of Logic and Philosophy of Science, University of the Basque Country
Location: San Sebastián, Spain
Field: Computer science - Cybernetics
Requirements:
PhD or equivalent in Computer science;
4 years research experience in cybernetics;
English: excellent;
Knowledge of theories of embodied cognition. Modelling skills using evolutionary approaches and dynamical systems;
Skills in physical simulation and dynamical neural networks. Knowledge of different theories of human movement.
Abstract:
As part of the eSMCs EU project, we are recruiting a postdoctoral researcher to work on the theoretical foundations of embodied cognition through the formulation of minimal models of visually-guided movement and skill acquisition. The post is for 3 years and candidates must have a PhD in embodied cognition and experience in modelling using evolutionary robotics techniques
Description:
The new European project on “Extending Sensorimotor Contingencies to Cognition” (eSMCs) comprises a strong network of neuroscientists, AI experts, roboticists, cognitive scientists and philosophers. Its main objective is to extend notions of sensorimotor embodiment to more complex forms of cognitive performance using theoretical work as well as computational and robotic models. It will also involve behavioural and neurophysiological studies in healthy human subjects and those with movement dysfunction. As part of this project, we are recruiting a postdoctoral researcher for 3 years to work on the theoretical foundations of embodied cognition through the formulation of models of multi-modal skill acquisition, arm movements and locomotion. Suitable candidates would have experience in theoretical of embodied cognition including some of the following: sensorimotor theories of perception, non-representationalist theories of action, and enactive approaches to autonomy, agency and meaning. Candidates should have a theoretical and modelling background with a recent PhD in one of these areas. They should also demonstrate a willingness to engage in productive dialogue with empirical and modelling research.
Deadline: 21-03-2011

Phone number: phone +34 943 018549

Extended cognition workshop – Amsterdam, June 27th-28th 2011


To mark the end of Catarina Dutilh Novaes’ VENI-project on formal languages and
the new appointment of Julian Kiverstein at the philosophy department of the
University of Amsterdam, a workshop on extended cognition will take place in
Amsterdam on June 27th-28th (exact location to be determined). Confirmed
speakers so far are: 
Julian Kiverstein (Edinburgh/Amsterdam)
Helen de Cruz (Leuven)
John Protevi (LSU)
Catarina Dutilh Novaes (Amsterdam) 
There will also be some slots for contributed papers. We are looking in
particular (though not exclusively) for papers in the spirit of ‘second-wave EM’
(Sutton) or ‘cognitive integration’ (Menary). Abstracts of around 500 words
should be sent to cdutilhnovaes [youknowwhat] yahoo.com no later than April
10th. 

Important dates: 
Deadline for submission: April 10th 2011.
Notification of acceptance: April 27th 2011.
Workshop: June 27th-28th 
For further inquiries, contact Catarina Dutilh Novaes at cdutilhnovaes
[youknowwhat] yahoo.com 
Messages to the list are archived at http://listserv.liv.ac.uk/archives/philos-l.html.
Prolonged discussions should be moved to chora: enrol via
http://listserv.liv.ac.uk/archives/chora.html.
Other philosophical resources on the Web can be found at http://www.liv.ac.uk/pal

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Astounding Bad News from Pitt

March 9, 2011

Dear Alumni,

Today, the University of Pittsburgh and the other state related universities received potentially devastating news when Governor Tom Corbett presented his proposed budget for fiscal year 2012. Pitt, Penn State, Temple and Lincoln Universities are targeted with extreme, severe and disproportionate cuts to their already comparatively low-level of state support. If enacted, funding reductions of this magnitude will have a drastically negative impact on Pitt students and their families, and on the economy of Western Pennsylvania. The proposed budget would cut Pitt's appropriation by $110 million.

When Pitt became a state-related university in 1966, there was an implicit promise that Pitt would receive an annual Commonwealth appropriation sufficient to offer Pennsylvania students the highest quality education at an affordable tuition--significantly less than that charged to non-Pennsylvania students and dramatically less than the tuition at comparable private universities. In the interests of Pennsylvania's high-achieving students and their families, and the interests of the economic health and survival of Western Pennsylvania, the Commonwealth should uphold its commitment to these millions of Pennsylvania citizens.

Pitt has shouldered more than its fair share of the cutbacks in state funding over the past decade (with reductions to our appropriation in six of the past ten years) and did not benefit from the nearly 40 percent increase in the state budget over the past eight years. In fact, the Commonwealth invests less state dollars in Pitt today than it did ten years ago. The University has worked successfully to reduce costs and implement efficiencies in employee benefits, energy conservation, strategic purchasing and many other areas. Even with these efficiencies, the proposed funding reduction will have a dramatic impact on tuition for Pennsylvania students and their families, and for staffing levels, salaries and construction projects.

While the large deficit facing the Commonwealth presents daunting budget challenges, investment in public higher education is a necessity in order for Pennsylvania students to have affordable access to the high quality education needed for the new technology-oriented economy. Investment in public higher education is also needed if Pitt is to continue its proven track record of increasing employment and economic activity in our home regions. In the current economy, the Commonwealth should be investing in successful job generators and economic engines like Pitt. That is the reason other states with very large budget deficits, like Virginia, ARE investing in public higher education, even as large cuts are planned throughout other areas of their state budgets.

WHAT CAN WE DO? Please write a letter, send an e-mail and call your state senator, state representative and Governor Corbett. All the information you need, including identifying your senator and state representative can be accessed by clicking here.

Please share any correspondence between you and your legislator with us at: papres@pitt.edu.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Noë at the Hughes Leblanc

http://philomtl.wordpress.com/2011/03/03/conferences-hugues-leblanc/.

Thanks to John Protevi for the link.

Calvo and Keijzer on Cognition

What is cognition? Although cognition is one of the core concepts in the behavioral and cognitive sciences, there is no generally accepted answer. For example, in his classic book Cognitive Psychology, Ulrich Neisser defined cognition as: “all processes by which the sensory input is transformed, reduced, elaborated, stored, recovered, and used.” (1967, p.4) But this definition seems to include many artifacts, like tape recorders, and organisms, like plants, that were not intended to be labeled as cognitive. The classical cognitive sciences that grew up under the influence of people like Neisser used a much more limited interpretation of cognition: not all forms or information processing did suffice. The implicit extra constraint in this definition was that cognition involves the kind of information processing that also occurs in human intelligence, where it is described in terms like perception, planning, thinking and action. (Calvo & Keijzer, 2008, p. 249)
More cognitivism in plants, it seems.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Calvo on Avoiding Terminological Disputes

The debate on ‘plant intelligence’ is unfortunately plagued with conceptual traps. Intelligence is usually cashed out in animal or anthropocentric terms, in such a way that plants plainly fail to meet the conditions for animal or human‑like intelligence, for obvious but uninteresting reasons. Nevertheless, in the name of scientific progress fight over labels ought to be avoided altogether. Plant neurobiology is not searching for the sort of tissues that implement computations in animals. It goes without saying that plants do not share  “neurons” with animals, or exhibit animal “intelligence”. If the reader wishes to keep those terms for animals exclusively, so be it.  (Garzon, 2007, p. 209)
So, I agree here.  Try to be reasonably clear on your terminology, then get to empirical work.  And, it seems to be common ground here at least that there are differences in the capacities of plants and of animals.  So, what are those?

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Calvo on Cognitivism in Plants?

Do plants compute? The blunt answer is “yes”. Plants compute insofar as they manipulate representational states. The sine qua non of representation‑based competency is off‑line adaptive behavior.  Reactive behavior differs from truly cognitive one because it fails to meet the principle of dissociation (the states of a reactive system covary continuously with external states). Off‑line competencies thus mark the borderline between reactive, noncognitive, cases of covariation and the cognitive case of intentional systems. Nocturnal reorientation in Lavatera cretica leaves is not to be interpreted in reactive terms, since such a competency is not explained by means of online forms of covariation. (Garzon, 2007, pp. 210-1.)
As I noted earlier, Paco is a representationalist embodied cognitionist (that's a pretty awful name).  Here, however, he is a computationalist, representationalist, embodied cognitionist.  This, again, makes it harder to be definitive about what advocates of embodied cognition believe.

Maybe someone should put forth the argument that because the advocates of embodied cognition can't agree on what they mean, they should give up that whole enterprise.  It's hopeless.  But, that someone wouldn't be me.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Calvo on the Goals of Cognitive Science

In fact, it has become somewhat inescapable to accept that a final understanding of human intelligence will be embodied and embedded. ... From this perspective, plants and animals, as open systems coupled with their environments, are on a par. The target is the scientific understanding of the continuous interplay of both animals and plants in relation to the environmental contingencies that impinge upon them.  (Garzon, 2007, p. 209).
First of all, I'm fine with saying that plants and animals are equally open systems coupled with their environments.  Leibniz was wrong to maintain that they are "windowless" monads. 

Second, there is a bit more room for debate, it seems to me, when it comes to "the target of scientific understanding".  Maybe one wants to know about the continuous interplay of organisms and their environment, but, then again, maybe one thinks that animal behavior is the product of certain sorts of mechanisms that one does not find in plants, and that among these mechanisms is a body of linguistic competence, and maybe one wants to know what constitutes this competence.  Maybe one does not really care about the continuous interplay of animals and plants with their environment.  Maybe one thinks that behavior of this sort is a kind of hodge podge of lots of different factors that don't really form all that coherent a whole.  Maybe, that is, one takes a view like Chomsky's articulated in the early pages of Aspects of the Theory of Syntax.

Here, it seems to me, is one place where the new embodied and embedded stuff seems to have understated the differences it has with cognitivism on this score.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Calvo on Plant Neurobiology

In preparation for the upcoming "Systematicity and the Post-Connectionist Era" workshop, I have been reading some papers by one of the organizers, Paco Calvo.  (Incidentally, I have seen a draft of the program and it looks great.)
Put bluntly, an information‑processing system counts as computational insofar as its state‑transitions can be accounted for in terms of manipulations on representations. The relation of representation refers to the standing in of internal states of a physical system for the content of other states. Cognitive activity is thus marked by the processing of representational states. We need nonetheless a more stringent definition of ‘representation’; a principled way to decide when a system manipulates representational states, beyond the somewhat trivial observation that one internal state ‘stands in’ for the content of another state. For present purposes, I propose to consider the following two principles. First, according to a principle of dissociation, for a physical state to become representational, the state must be able on occasions to stand for things or events that are temporarily unavailable. And second, according to a principle of reification, a system state can only count as representational if it can be detected and a parallel drawn between the state in question and the role it plays in the establishment of a connection between the system’s input and output states. That is, we must be able to identify specific physical states with the computational roles they are supposed to play.
     This framework can serve to assess the cognitive capacities of any information‑processing system whatsoever. Notice that it does not rely upon the existence of any specific brain tissue to perform computations. A physical state is contentful if it can be spatiotemporarily identified as causally efficacious in the connection of the system’s input and output states in such a way that the state in question ‘hangs in there’ while the input state it is tuned to decays or is no longer present.v That’s all that is needed. No restrictions in terms of implementation, neuronal or what may, are imposed. I propose therefore to adopt these two principles, taken together, as a condition on the possession of a cognitive architecture, and consider plants as candidates for its satisfaction. (Garzon, 2007, pp. 209-10).
So, Garzon is an embodied cognitionist of a representationalist stripe.  Nicely muddies the water about what embodied cognition people think.  I take it that there is a fair diversity of opinion among embodied cognitionists.

Now, I've long been keen to get on the table a "mark of the cognitive" for various reasons, but one is simply so we can at least get in the ballpark of what we are talking about.  Now, it seems to me that Paco has informed us what he is talking about.  So, given that, I can see how he can maintains that plants are cognitive systems.

But, I don't see that we are necessarily talking past one another.  It seems to me that we can have common ground in the view that the plant cognition he is talking about differs from the human cognition that I am talking about.

Friday, February 25, 2011

WWWW (What Wheeler Wouldn't Write)

2 Online intelligence is generated through complex causal interactions in an extended brain-body-environment system Recent work in, for example, neuroscience, robotics, developmental psychology, and philosophy suggests that on-line intelligent action is grounded not in the activity of neural states and processes alone, but rather in complex causal interactions involving not only neural factors, but also additional factors located in the nonneural body and the environment. Given the predominant role that the brain is traditionally thought to play here, one might say that evolution, in the interests of adaptive efficiency, has been discovered to outsource a certain amount of cognitive intelligence to the nonneural body and the environment. In chapters 8 and 9 we shall explicate this externalistic restructuring of the cognitive world-with its attendant (typically mild, but sometimes radical) downsizing of the contribution of the brain in terms of what Andy Clark and I have called nontrivial causal spread (Wheeler and Clark 1999). (Wheeler, 2005, p. 12)
Now, this is something that Wheeler did write back in 2005, but it is, I speculate, what Wheeler wouldn't write now.  I think he has gotten to be more careful about loose phrases such as "intelligence is generated through".  That's ambiguous between a thesis about ontogenetic development, on the one, hand (which A&A think is true) and a thesis about, say, the supervenience base of intelligence (which A&A think is not true).  "Grounded" might also be ambiguous, but I would read it as a kind of supervenience claim.  The appeal to evolution, however, suggests that it is not an ontogenetic thesis that is up for grabs, but a phylogenetic thesis.  All these are different claims and I think that Wheeler is probably now on to this. I think he may believe all three theses; I only believe two.  But, this is just a marking out he lay of the land ...

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Clark @ University of Tokyo

Schedule of talks here.

Wheeler 2005 on representation and computation 2

The representational theory of mind and the computational theory of cognitive processing are empirical hypotheses. However, they are empirical hypotheses whose truth has been pretty much assumed by just about everyone in cognitive science.  (Wheeler, 2005, p. 8). 
Now, I suppose that if your aim is to undermine opposing views, it's easiest just to say that they are simply assuming something.  But, when you have major, explicitly acknowledged empirical hypotheses--such as that cognition involves rule and representations--then it seems unlikely that such hypotheses will be mere assumptions.  So, if you want to understand the major tenets of an opposing view, you should probably dig around and find out why they hold them.

So, I don't know why Gibsonians are so interested in the direct perception of affordances, but I figure there must be some experimental result or something that drives this.  This is not just something they assume.  And, I assume that there is some reason that Maturana and Varela (and it seems Evan Thompson following them) think that life and mind are very intimately related.  I have no idea what that is, but I'm not going to go out on a limb and say they are just assuming that there is a connection.

Now, of course, finding out why some group holds a view takes a lot of time.  I've been rooting around trying to find out what drives EP.  I don't think reading things like Gibson, 1979, or TSRM are really doing it for me.  I think I need to go back to some of the earlier experimental work.  I've read some Maturana, Varela, and most of Mind in Life, but I still don't get it.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Wheeler 2005 on representation and computation 1

The representational theory of mind and the computational theory of cognitive processing are empirical hypotheses. However, they are empirical hypotheses whose truth has been pretty much assumed by just about everyone in cognitive science.  (Wheeler, 2005, p. 8).

I like Mike's writing because it is clearly wrong, rather than obscurely wrong like so much of the EC lit.  (Isn't there a principle of deontic logic according to which if you're going to be wrong, you should be clearly wrong?)  Mike is probably right that the representational theory of mind and the computational theory of cognitive processing are empirical hypotheses whose truth has long been pretty much assumed by just about everyone in cognitive science.  But, I think it's because folks have largely been satisfied that the empirical case for that has been made, so that it's time to move on to other dimensions of these views.  It's, to me, just like the fact that so much of biology has pretty much assumed that evolution is true.  That has been established, so it is time to move on to other dimensions.

Remember that representationalism emerged in opposition to Skinner's behaviorism which was often anti-representational and which was orthodoxy circa 1955 (right?).  In that context, representationalism didn't just emerge by assumption; there must have been something somewhere that gave at least some people some reason to think that there must be some representations somewhere somehow.  Just so, evolution emerged in opposition to creationism  which was orthodoxy circa 1855 (right?).  In that context, evolution didn't just emerge by assumption; there must have been something somewhere that gave at least some people some reason to think that there must be some evolution somewhere somehow.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Weiskopf on Cognitive Systems 4

When the Terminator retrieves information from memory, it appears as text in his visual field. Presumably this text is read by him and used to guide his murderous actions. But this is a purely internal process, and it is plausibly cognitive. (Weiskopf, 2010)
I don't find it that plausible.  To me, this is just Andy's Martian with the bitmap "mental" image again.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Weiskopf on Cognitive Systems 3

The criterion is this: the boundaries of a cognitive system are given by the location of its transducers and its effectors. A transducer, in Pylyshyn’s terms (pp. 151–178) is a device that (1) maps inputs described in physical terms into outputs described in representational terms in a way that is (2) interrupt-driven and (3) primitive and nonsymbolic. Saying that transducers are interrupt-driven is just to say that their activation is mandatorily determined by the presence of their physical input conditions. Saying that they are primitive implies that they do not carry out their mapping function by any internal representational means; their operations do not involve cognitive processes, although they may obviously be physically complex. The most important condition on transducers, for our purposes, is that they have the function of turning physical stimuli into representational or computational  states. The inputs to a transducer are not themselves representational; transducers respond only to physical properties and magnitudes. They take, for example, pressure, temperature, vibrations in the air, or ambient light in a region of space, and produce vehicles that  represent something, most frequently some aspect of the environment that the stimulus typically carries information about. Transducers can thus be thought of as the place in where things in the external environment become input for the cognitive system.
     The same can be said of effectors. Corresponding to the above definition of a transducer, an effector is a device that (1) maps inputs described in representational terms into outputs described in physical terms in a way that is (2) interrupt-driven and (3) primitive and nonsymbolic. That is, an effector does what a transducer does, but in reverse. It takes a representation and produces a physical event; for example, activation pattern in certain muscle groups. The input representation can be understood as something like a direct motor command, and this command acts immediately on the body. Both transducers and effectors are important for delimiting systems, but for brevity I will sometimes simply call this the transducer view of systems.  (Weiskopf, 2010)
So, is a single neuron a cognitive system by this criterion?  Sounds like yes to me.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Weiskopf on Cognitive Systems 2

The criterion is this: the boundaries of a cognitive system are given by the location of its transducers and its effectors. A transducer, in Pylyshyn’s terms (pp. 151-178) is a device that (1) maps inputs described in physical terms into outputs described in representational terms in a way that is (2) interrupt-driven and (3) primitive and nonsymbolic. (Weiskopf, 2010)
 So, a being without sense organs that mentally computes a sequence of Fibonacci numbers would not be a cognitive agent?

Thursday, February 17, 2011

U. Pittsburgh Philosophy of Science: Embodiment and Adaptation

Sunday, 20 March 2011
Center for Philosophy of Science
817 Cathedral of Learning
University of Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh, PA USA

More info here.

Nivedita Gangopadhyay: The extended mind: born to be wild? A lesson from action-understanding

Here.

Abstract

The extended mind hypothesis (Clark and Chalmers in Analysis 58(1):7–19, 1998; Clark 2008) is an influential hypothesis in philosophy of mind and cognitive science. I argue that the extended mind hypothesis is born to be wild. It has undeniable and irrepressible tendencies of flouting grounding assumptions of the traditional information-processing paradigm. I present case-studies from social cognition which not only support the extended mind proposal but also bring out its inherent wildness. In particular, I focus on cases of action-understanding and discuss the role of embodied intentionality in the extended mind project. I discuss two theories of action-understanding for exploring the support for the extended mind hypothesis in embodied intersubjective interaction, namely, simulation theory and a non-simulationist perceptual account. I argue that, if the extended mind adopts a simulation theory of action-understanding, it rejects representationalism. If it adopts a non-simulationist perceptual account of action-understanding, it rejects the classical sandwich view of the mind. 
 
Keywords  Extended mind – Action-understanding – Simulation theory – Non-simulationist perceptual theory – Embodied intersubjectivity – Representationalism – Dynamical systems – Perception – Action – Social cognition

Weiskopf on Cognitive Systems

A cognitive system is a set of physical structures and mechanisms that collectively realize a specific functional architecture.  Such architecture makes available a representational vocabulary, a set of primitive operations defined over them, a set of resources that these operations may make use of, and a set of control structures that determine how the activation and inhibition of operations and resources is orchestrated. These collectively determine the internal dynamics of processes in the system: how one set of input representations triggers a cascade of processing throughout various parts of the system, resulting eventually in some
sort of output.  (Weiskopf, 2010, p. ??)
So, that seems to me to be a reasonable way to demarcate a cognitive system, but it's not exactly what Weiskopf goes for.  More on this later.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Here's a Nice Bit of Irony

From Shaun Gallagher's forthcoming "The Overextended Mind":
If, as we confront some task, a part of the world functions as a
process which, were it to go on in the head, we would have no
hesitation in recognizing as part of the cognitive process, then
that part of the world is (so we claim) part of the cognitive
process. (Clark and Chalmers 1998, p. 8)
On a strict interpretation this principle appears to measure cognition in
terms of the Cartesian gold standard of what goes on in the head. It suggests
that a process outside of the head counts as cognitive only if in principle it
could be accomplished in the head (Gallagher, forthcoming, p. 1).
The irony, of course, is that Clark, and others, have taken to charging A&A with brain-o-centric bias.
Clark (2008, p. 114) rejects this interpretation, insisting that the
parity principle should not be interpreted as requiring any similarity
between inner and outer processes. Wheeler (2006, 3) explains that the
parity principle does not “fix the benchmarks for what it is to count as a
proper part of a cognitive system by identifying all the details of the causal
contribution made by (say) the brain [and then by looking] to see if any
external elements meet those benchmarks.”  (Gallagher, forthcoming, p. 2)
And, it's good to see them on the defensive on this.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Jobs in Edinburgh

Edinburgh is a great place, so I'm thinking that there will be two more happy people there in the future!


### Permanent Lectureship in Philosophy of Cognitive Science

Applications are invited for a permanent lectureship in Philosophy of Cognitive Science, tenable from 1 August 2011. Salary Scale: £36,862 - £44,016. This permanent post has been created to help support a new interdisciplinary masters level initiative in Cognition in Science and Society. The successful candidate will conduct philosophical and interdisciplinary research and teaching (including doctoral supervision) in the areas of Philosophy of Cognitive Science, and Philosophy of Mind and Language. She or he will have a PhD and publications commensurate with their stage in career, and should demonstrate potential for attracting external funding. The successful candidate will have a strong background in Philosophy, and in Cognitive Science, and will show a proven track record of teaching and research that crosses the borders between Philosophy, Psychology, and Linguistics.

For more information, go to: http://www.jobs.ed.ac.uk/ and enter the reference number 3014085.

### Teaching Fellowship in Mind and Embodied Cognition

Applications are invited for a full-time 2-year fixed-term Teaching Fellowship in the area of Mind and Embodied Cognition. This post has been created to support teaching and graduate supervision during a period of research leave granted to Professor Andy Clark. The successful candidate will have a PhD and publications commensurate with their stage in career. She or he will deliver philosophical and interdisciplinary teaching (including helping with graduate supervision) in the areas of Embodied Cognition and Philosophy of Mind. The successful candidate will also contribute teaching to the masters level specialization in Mind, Language and Embodied Cognition. Teaching skills in the area of consciousness studies and/or philosophy of perception would be considered an advantage.

The position is available from 1 April 2011 for a period of 24 months.

For more information, go to: http://www.jobs.ed.ac.uk/ and enter the reference number 3014036

Gibson on Information and Misinformation 2

Let me note another feature of the following:
It is because the affordances of things for an observer are specified in stimulus information. They seem to be perceived directly because they are perceived directly.

The central question for the theory of affordances is not whether they exist and are real but whether information is available in ambient light for perceiving them.  The skeptic may now be convinced that there is information in light for some properties of a surface but not for such a property as being good to eat. The taste of a thing, he will say, is not specified in light; you can see its form and color and texture but not its palatability; you have to taste it for that.  (Gibson, 1979, p. 140)

MISINFORMATION FOR AFFORDANCES
If there is information in the ambient light for the affordances of things, can there also be misinformation? According to the theory being developed, if information is picked up perception results; if misinformation is picked up misperception results.
The brink of a cliff affords falling off; it is in fact dangerous and it looks dangerous to us. It seems to look dangerous to many other terrestrial animals besides ourselves including infant animals. Experimental studies have been made of this fact. If a sturdy sheet of plate glass is extended out over the edge it no longer affords falling and in fact is not dangerous, but it may still look dangerous. The optical information to specify depth-downward-at-an-edge is still present in the ambient light; for this reason the device was called a visual cliff by E. J. Gibson and R. D. Walk (1960). Haptic information was available to specify an adequate surface of support, but this was contradictory to the optical information. When human infants at the crawling stage of locomotion were tested with this apparatus, many of them would pat the glass with their hands but would not venture out on the surface. The babies misperceived the affordance of a transparent surface for support, and this result is not surprising.
Similarly, an adult can misperceive the affordance of a sheet of glass by mistaking a closed glass door for an open doorway and attempting to walk through it. He then crashes into the barrier and is injured. The affordance of collision was not specified by the outflow of optical texture in the array, or it was insufficiently specified. He mistook glass for air. The occluding edges of the doorway were specified and the empty visual solid angle opened up symmetrically in the normal manner as he approached, so his behavior was properly controlled, but the imminence of collision was not noticed. A little dirt on the surface, or highlights, would have saved him.
These two cases are instructive. In the first a surface of support was mistaken for air because the optic array specified air. In the second case a barrier was mistaken for air for the same reason. Air downward affords falling and is dangerous. Air forward affords passage and is safe. The mistaken perceptions led to inappropriate actions.  (Gibson, 1979, p. 142)
In the first passages on p. 140, one implicitly knows how affordances are supposed to structure light, then one can use this to predict what a subject will perceive.  On p. 142, however, one has cases in which the prediction is that the affordance for "walk-on-ability" and "walk-through-ability" should structure light in such a way as to have babies go over the "invisible cliff" or have adults not walk into the glass occluder.  Yet, rather than acknowledging the failed predictions, Gibson instead postulates information in the light the will save the phenomena. This is the kind of move that Fodor and Pylyshyn were complaining about when saying that the notion of what is directly perceived is unconstrained.  It's the kind of problem that TSRM hint that they are trying to solve, but which I have been arguing they do not.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Gibson: Surfaces are on the Outside; The Affordances is on the Insider

On any number of occasions, I've pointed out that what structures light are surfaces, which are on the outside of objects, but that affordances are constituted (not by the composition and layout of surfaces, but) by what's inside an object.  Gibson agrees, at least sometimes.  As Genny notes, one could see this in Chapter 2, where Gibson describes his "ecological laws of surfaces":
2. Any surface has resistance to deformation, depending on the viscosity of the substance.
3. Any surface has resistance to disintegration, depending on the cohesion of the substances. (Gibson, 1979, p. 24).

Friday, February 11, 2011

The ExtendedMind.Org Blog

http://extendedmind.org/

Gibson on Information and Misinformation 1

From Gibson, 1979, Chapter 8:
It is because the affordances of things for an observer are specified in stimulus information. They seem to be perceived directly because they are perceived directly.

The central question for the theory of affordances is not whether they exist and are real but whether information is available in ambient light for perceiving them.  The skeptic may now be convinced that there is information in light for some properties of a surface but not for such a property as being good to eat. The taste of a thing, he will say, is not specified in light; you can see its form and color and texture but not its palatability; you have to taste it for that.  (Gibson, 1979, p. 140)
MISINFORMATION FOR AFFORDANCES
If there is information in the ambient light for the affordances of things, can there also be misinformation? According to the theory being developed, if information is picked up perception results; if misinformation is picked up misperception results.
The brink of a cliff affords falling off; it is in fact dangerous and it looks dangerous to us. It seems to look dangerous to many other terrestrial animals besides ourselves including infant animals. Experimental studies have been made of this fact. If a sturdy sheet of plate glass is extended out over the edge it no longer affords falling and in fact is not dangerous, but it may still look dangerous. The optical information to specify depth-downward-at-an-edge is still present in the ambient light; for this reason the device was called a visual cliff by E. J. Gibson and R. D. Walk (1960). Haptic information was available to specify an adequate surface of support, but this was contradictory to the optical information. When human infants at the crawling stage of locomotion were tested with this apparatus, many of them would pat the glass with their hands but would not venture out on the surface. The babies misperceived the affordance of a transparent surface for support, and this result is not surprising.
Similarly, an adult can misperceive the affordance of a sheet of glass by mistaking a closed glass door for an open doorway and attempting to walk through it. He then crashes into the barrier and is injured. The affordance of collision was not specified by the outflow of optical texture in the array, or it was insufficiently specified. He mistook glass for air. The occluding edges of the doorway were specified and the empty visual solid angle opened up symmetrically in the normal manner as he approached, so his behavior was properly controlled, but the imminence of collision was not noticed. A little dirt on the surface, or highlights, would have saved him.
These two cases are instructive. In the first a surface of support was mistaken for air because the optic array specified air. In the second case a barrier was mistaken for air for the same reason. Air downward affords falling and is dangerous. Air forward affords passage and is safe. The mistaken perceptions led to inappropriate actions.  (Gibson, 1979, p. 142)
In comments on a post from weeks ago, Gennady Erlikmann draws our attention to some important texts from the latter portions of Chapter 8 of Gibson, 1979.   Now, it seems to me that the passages from p. 140 cited above champion the view that affordances structure light in such a way as to enable the affordances to be perceived.  And he does not there back off the view.  But, then on p. 142, he apparently does back off of this apparently admitting that sometimes affordances do not structure light in such a way as to enable them to be perceived.  (That's the italized part in paragraph 3 from p. 142.)  In the final paragraph, the two italicized sections suggest that the glass in the two cases did not structure light in such a way as to specify an affordance of, say, "stand-on-ability" or "walk-through-ability".  Instead, the glass apparently specified something else, namely, air.  Kind of grudging admissions.
Nevertheless, however true all this may be, the basic affordances of the environment are perceivable and are usually perceivable directly, without an excessive amount of learning. The basic properties of the environment that make an affordance are specified in the structure of ambient light, and hence the affordance itself is specified in ambient light. Moreover, an invariant variable that is commensurate with the body of the observer himself is more easily picked up than one not commensurate with his body.  (Gibson, 1979, p. 143).
In the final paragraph here, Gibson suggests that, while maaaybe not all affordances are perceived, at least all the basic affordances are perceived. 

Now, I've been trying to give examples showing that this kind of analysis will not work.  The box and the exploding box are physically the same on the outside, so structure light in the same way.  There is no room to say that one of these structurings is information, where the other is misinformation.  As light structure, they are the same.  At most, calling one "information" and the other "misinformation" is just to rename the one light structure as coming from the normal box, where the other light structure as coming from the exploding box.