Saturday, July 28, 2012

Kindle Edition of The Bounds of Cognition

Fred was keen to have an electronic version of the book back in 2008, but it did not seem profitable to the publisher at the time.  Now Amazon has itTimes are changing quickly.

Please engage in some impulse buying.  It's only $18.67!

(In another illustration of how bad I am at keeping up with the literature, I just found out about the Kindle edition myself.  Looking for some reference info on Amazon, I saw that Menary's collection, The Extended Mind, is also available in a Kindle edition, so I decided to check on Bounds.)

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Kaplan's "How to Demarcate the Boundaries of Cognition"

Info here.

Theodore's "Was Kekule's Mind Brainbound?"

Here is a paper I just happened across.  Extended cognition extending its reach outside the philosophy of mind/cognition/psychology.

A&M: "A&A seem to treat a case of (mere) causal interaction as a case of coupling."

Maybe it seems as though we treat coupling as just causation, but I'm not sure why.  The idea is to see, first of all, that causation is an insufficient basis for constitutive claims.  All apparently agree to this now.  Then, in two chapters of our book (chapters 6 & 7) we look at a variety of ways in which one can add further conditions on mere causation in hopes of establishing a constitutive connection.  What do folks think we are doing in those chapters, if not examining (and challenging) other interpretations of what coupling could be and whether such coupling establishes a constitutive connection?

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Smart's "Web-extended Mind"

The paper is available online here.

Functional fixedness fallacy

A&A’s mistake is to assume that the parts and wholes of cognitive systems are fixed by how they sometimes function. That is, they assume that because Haugeland himself sometimes  functions as a self-contained cognitive system, he must always function as such.  The case of the road to San Jose is designed as a counter-example to precisely that inference. A&A, therefore, are themselves guilty of a fallacy, that of assuming that because something sometimes  functions in a certain way, it must always  function in that way.

I don't think we assume this.  In fact, that assumption is inconsistent with our idea that extended cognition is possible.  So, in principle, you might give Otto some sort of ultra-fancy neural prosthetic (unlike the humble notebook) that really does function just like a brain region.  That could be a case of extended cognition.  

Instead, we assume that just because something causally contributes to successful performance does not suffice to establish it as a constitutive element of a cognitive process.  The sun contributes to one's reading a newspaper outside, but is not a cognitive processor, right?

Of course, A&M may have some other conditions that distinguish mere causation from constitution, but let's have those on the table.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Friday, July 6, 2012

Workshop: "Sensorimotor Representations and Concepts"

"In an attempt to further investigate issues related to the ‘grounding of cognition’, we are organizing a two-day workshop on ‘Sensorimotor Representations and Concepts’. The target of the workshop is to further motivate the debate on the relations between perception, action and cognition and investigate related issues.

The workshop is the first one organised by the ‘Grounded Cognition’ and ‘ThinkAct’ research projects currently running in Düsseldorf. Supported by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) and the VolkswagenStiftung, the above projects investigate the extent and the manner in which concepts are ‘grounded’ in basic sensorimotor representations, and the relation between thinking and motor control, respectively. Acquiring a clear understanding of the ways in which perception, action and cognition are related is crucial in order to further understand the ways in which the human mind operates. Our ambition is that the forthcoming workshop will be a significant step towards the intended direction. "
Friday 19th October 2012 and Saturday 20th October 2012 at Schloß Mickeln, Heinrich Heine Universität, Düsseldorf. 
Organisers: Gottfried Vosgerau, Alex Tillas, Tim Seuchter, Arne Weber

Sadly, while this is just a half-hour train ride away right now, by October it'll be out of reach.

Nicoletta Orlandi's "Embedded seeing-as: Multi-stable visual perception without interpretation"

This looks pretty interesting.

Maybe I need to look more closely at EcoPsych literature, but it seems to me that there is not that much that tries to explain the putatively difficult visual phenomena, rather than simply dismiss them as superficial.

Shannon Spaulding's "Overextended Cognition"

Here in Philosophical Psychology.

Tom Roberts' "Taking Responsibility for Cognitive Extension".

Here in Philosophical Psychology.

A&M on the structure of the master argument

Adams & Maher write,
 It is important to see that Haugeland’s and C&C’s arguments share a structure. They argue that the mind extends because there are external items (a road, a notebook) that are functionally equivalent to admitted parts of the mind (a map, a memory). And these external items are functionally equivalent to partsof the mind because the external items have the same high-bandwidth interactions that those parts of the mind have to other parts of the mind.
Now, I think that Haugeland's argument is actually much more ambiguous.  To my mind, there is a bit of operationalism in the San Jose case, wherein he implicitly assumes that any way of getting to San Jose is the performance of a cognitive task.  Then, there is the high-bandwidth (coupling argument) thing that does not require an inner-outer functional equivalence.  Then there is this talk of functional equivalence.

Now, however one takes Haugeland's argument, I think it will not ultimately work out.  In The Bounds of Cognition, we addressed each of the three ways of interpreting this argument.

And, I think that C&C also have an ambiguity about whether they want a functional equivalence argument or a coupling argument regarding Inga-Otto.  When there is a discussion of both Inga and Otto, there are often allusions to functional equivalence (which is why the story involves Inga and Otto).  But, the trust and glue coupling arguments do not really need to involve Inga.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Summer School "Aesthetics and the Embodied Mind" 26th - 30th August 2013 - HWK Delmenhorst (Germany)

More info here.

A&M's schema

So, A&M offer this as the master argument schema:

1. Y is part of a cognitive system Z.
2. X (an external item) has the same high-bandwidth interaction with other parts
of Z that Y has.
3. So, X is functionally equivalent to Y.
4. So, X is part of Z.
This seems to me not a correct reconstruction of what Haugeland is up to.  So, I take it that it is supposed to be the high bandwidth interface (HBI) between the brain (or what Haugeland calls "the internal guidance system") and the road that makes the road part of the cognitive system.  It's not that the brain and something else are both connected to the road by HBIs, so that the brain and this something else are functionally equivalent.  Here's a picture of the two different takes.

Here's the text from Haugeland (as best as I can get without my hard copy):

What is the Y in this passage?

And, you can ask of the Otto-notebook case, what is Otto's brain and the notebook both coupled to so that they are equivalent?  

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Haugeland's Argument

Haugeland, for instance, does not claim that since the road to San Jose is tightly coupled to him it becomes part of him. Rather, he claims that the he and the road together make up a coupled cognitive system.  Schematically, here is Haugeland’s actual claim:
X is coupled to Y.So, X and Y make up Z.
The idea is that when two things are tightly coupled, they constitute some third thing, of which they are both parts. A&A do not seem to recognize that.
I'm not sure that things are so simple as the when two things are tightly coupled, they constitute some third kind of thing.  Does a piece of chewing gum stuck to my shoe make some third kind of thing?  Does a cannon ball lodged in a castle wall make some third kind of thing?  (Bear in mind that for Haugeland an HBI is just interacts intensely, as do the parts of a camshaft.  So, just have a case where the two parts interact intensely, as gum stuck to a shoe.)

But, that aside, I think A&A are on to this idea of cognitive systems.  We talk about this in section 7.2, "Haugeland’s Theory of Systems and the Coupling of Components," in The Bounds of Cognition.  We draw a distinction between the hypothesis of extended cognitive systems and the hypothesis of extended cognition.  We are willing to accept that there can be cognitive systems that extend beyond the boundary of the brain and body, but we resist the idea that cognitive processes extend beyond the boundary of the brain and body.  How is this possible?  We think that a type of process can be used to label a type of system without having that process pervade the whole of the system.  Think of computing.  That is a type of process that enables one to speak of a computing system, but the computational process does not pervade the whole of the computing system.  So, we think that coupling might give you extended cognitive systems, but not extended cognitive processes.  

Monday, July 2, 2012

An interesting example from A&M

So, A&M invite consideration of a new case:

Focus on Haugeland’s trip to San Jose. In the actual case, his body is embedded, for it is tightly coupled with the road. To be embedded with something is to be coupled to it. It is possible, however, to imagine a counter-factual case in which he has an inner mental representation of the route to San Jose. Imagine, for instance, that Haugeland is able to find the way to San Jose by memorizing the number of steps and turns that he must take in order to get there from a certain starting point. In this imaginary case, his body would be unembedded, for although his body would be causally interacting  with the road, it would not be coupled  with it. Strictly speaking, in this imaginary case, the road does not play any cognitiverole whatsoever in Haugeland’s finding his way to San Jose.     Now, advocates of EMH take the actual case to be fundamentally different from the imaginary case. A&A, however, would see the cases as fundamentally similar. Because they conflate coupling with mere causal interaction, they would emphasize a superficial similarity between the embedded and unembedded cases: in both, Haugeland’s body causally interacts with the road. 
Now, I see that A&M want Haugeland's original case to count as coupling and extended cognition, but the new case not to count as coupling and extended cognition.  So, what exactly is the putative difference between mere causation and coupling?  A&M don't say.  Could it be that when X is a causally relevant factor that contributes to the success in some task, then X is coupled, hence part of the cognitive system?

But, by this account, we are coupled to the sun when we read outside or to oxygen when we solve math problems.  Rupert talks about the sun case in his book, and probably elsewhere.  So, the account of coupling on offer here seems to me to be of no help.

Second, this account seems to me not to distinguish between cognition and behavior.  It is behaviors that enable success in tasks, with cognitive processes only being (perhaps) among the causes of behavior.  If one takes all processes that contribute to the production of (successful) behavior to be cognitive, then that conglomerate will be extended.