Tuesday, February 8, 2011

K&F on the A&A AC System

Complementarity, say Adams and Aizawa, at best establishes the existence of extended cognitive systems.   It doesn’t establish extended cognition; at least it won’t if one concedes that extended cognitive systems work like air con and sound systems.  Our first response is that it sounds a little odd to our ears to say that the evaporating coil is causally responsible, all on its own, for cooling the air.  Take the coil out of the larger system of which it is a part, and the house in which it is installed isn’t going to feel cooler.  The air conditioning system is made up of components each of which performs particular operations, and when these components interact in the right way what you get is cool air.  Maybe the evaporating coil is particularly crucial – it is if you like the “core realiser” of air conditioning, but it is only by working in partnership with all the other components that it can perform this function. (Kiverstein & Farian, forthcoming, p. ???)
Now, it seems to me that it is the evaporator coil where the cooling takes place.  Just feel it.  That's where things are cold.  Things are hot around the compressor.

But, let's agree that other components are necessary in order to cool the air, e.g. the compressor, and say that the cooling process extends into these.  Still, the ductwork is part of the AC system and you don't need it to cool the air, do you?  What about the blower?  The ductwork and blower serve to distribute the air, not cool it.  So, even conceding all that K&F want, the same basic principle of the argument still applies.  The air conditioning (aka cooling) does not pervade the whole of the system, but only a part (or parts, if you prefer). Just so, even if Otto + notebook is an extended cognitive system, it might still be the case that there is only cognitive processing in the brain.  So, it is still not a trivial move to go from extended cognitive systems to extended cognitive processes.

And, there is also the example of a computing system ...

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