Friday, June 29, 2012

A&M: Behavior vs Cognition

So, A&M write,
consider a case of multi-digit multiplication: ‘49885320 x 12534959 =  625310440901880’. When one uses a pencil, paper and a long-multiplication algorithm to compute the answer to that sum, writing plays a constitutive role in the process of figuring out the answer, since the position of the numerals that one writes on the paper are part  of how one arrives at the solution to the sum (p. 6).

So, indeed, using pencil and paper constitute part of the process of figuring out the answer.  But, figuring out the answer is a kind of performance or behavior.  It is a kind of performance that involves both cognitive and non-cognitive components.  There are the brainy cognitive processes, such as multiplying together the rightmost elements, and the non-brainy, non-cognitive processes, such as making marks on the paper.


For a couple of years now, I have been thinking that extended cognition is more appealing as the 20th Centenary cognition/behavior divide that, e.g. Skinner and Chomsky agreed to draw, has faded away.


I first talked about this breakdown with respect to Rob Rupert's book back in 2009, but I've also got it as part of the talk I gave at Groningen workshop on the need for a mark of the cognitive.  I'll also be talking about it again at the "Interfaces of the Mind" workshop in Bochum next month.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

What's to like in Adams and Maher, 2012

So, right off there are some things to like.

First, they embrace the causation/constitution distinction that has been invoked by advocates of EC.  That's a distinction that has been invoked by most advocates of EC, despite the fact that it does ultimately lead them to difficulties.

Second, A&M embrace the "mark of the cognitive" idea, championing (a version of?) Haugeland's MotC.
And, I think this second point is valuable, since my reading of Haugeland is that, at times, he opts for an objectionable form of operationalism, but at other times he opts for some other MotC.  A&M describe a non-operationalist MotC.  So, I think Haugeland's view is equivocal about what distinguishes the cognitive (or what is intelligent) from the non-cognitive.
Third, A&M also suggest a reading of Haugeland's San Jose example wherein functional equivalence comes into play.  I had not thought to read the text that way (although I don't think it ultimately changes  anything).

Fourth, they accept intentionality as (part of) the mark of the cognitive.

Fifth, they accept a distinction between derived and non-derived representation.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

C&C vs Haugeland on high-bandwidth connections

Adams and Maher read C&C and Haugeland as agreeing that high-bandwidth "connections" are not really interfaces.  They read the C&C "trust and glue" conditions as high-bandwidth conditions.  (cf. pp. 2-4.)

A) I don't think that that is a correct reading of C&C.

B) I don't think the trust and glue conditions are high-bandwidth conditions.

Regarding A), there is some place where Clark challenges Haugeland's idea that there cannot be a high-bandwidth interface.  Why, Clark asks, can there be no such thing?  I don't have my copy of Supersizing here with me in Germany, but I think it's in there.  (One could probably check the index of Supersizing for "Haugeland" and track it down.)

Regarding B), I think you can separate the trust and glue conditions through the example of trusting a coin toss in navigation.  (This is in my Philosophical Explorations paper, "Distinguishing Virtue Epistemology and Extended Cognition".)  Basically, you have Otto who trusts whatever the "lucky" coin tells him in order to navigate through NYC.  (Set up the story to fit the trust and glue conditions.)  But, a coin toss only carries, what, one bit of information?  Low-bandwidth.  So, you can trust and be glued to a low-bandwidth connection, it seems to me.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The C-C Fallacy

So, a real (attempt at) a philosophical post, for a change.

In the literature, there are a number of concessions that simply inferring constitution from causation is fallacious.  Here I have in mind Justin Fisher's review of Bounds, a comment in Andy Clark's Supersizing, and some passages from Rob Wilson's "Embodied Vision".  But, these concessions then suggest/claim that no one commits this simple fallacy.  (Fisher thinks some philosophers do, but that the more clever ones do not.)

I think that these concessions overlook the overall structure of the objections to coupling/constitution arguments.  So, all apparently agree that the simplest case is fallacious.  But, Adams and I do not leave matters at the simplest case.  We have two chapters of our book dedicated to grinding it out to the view that adding more conditions does not really change the problem.  The additional conditions that one might like to add to causation, e.g. trust and glue, do not bridge the gap to constitution.  The additional conditions, we argue, are essentially whistles and bells that do no deliver the constitutional goods.  So, the idea is that once one grasps the mechanics of the simple case, one ought (we think) to be able to see how the mechanics applies to more complex cases.

Now, maybe those two chapters don't cover all the cases and, we do not give a general argument that they do.  Nevertheless, it is also not the case that we only put forth the simple case.


This looks promising.

I have probably read Haugeland's "Mind Embodied and Embedded" eight times or more and I never would have gathered that he thinks responsibility is the mark of the cognitive.  But, I've not read the whole book.

From daaavve at Havingthought2012.