Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Andrew Blitzer: What Extended Mind Thesis?

At the Australian National University:
Date and time: 
Tue, 02/08/2011 - 16:00 - 18:00
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.

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