Abstract—The extended mind hypothesis has stimulated
much interest in cognitive science. However, its core claim, i.e.
that the process of cognition can extend beyond the brain via the
body and into the environment, has been heavily criticized. A
prominent critique of this claim holds that when some part of the
world is coupled to a cognitive system this does not necessarily
entail that the part is also constitutive of that cognitive system.
This critique is known as the “coupling-constitution fallacy”. In
this paper we respond to this reductionist challenge by using an
evolutionary robotics approach to create a minimal model of two
acoustically coupled agents. We demonstrate how the interaction
process as a whole has properties that cannot be reduced to the
contributions of the isolated agents. We also show that the neural
dynamics of the coupled agents has formal properties that are
inherently impossible for those neural networks in isolation. By
keeping the complexity of the model to an absolute minimum, we
are able to illustrate how the coupling-constitution fallacy is in
fact based on an inadequate understanding of the constitutive
role of nonlinear interactions in dynamical systems theory.
Two points here (prior to having read the paper):
1) We don't take the "coupling-constitution fallacy" is not a critique of extended cognition per se. Instead, it is meant to call out a particular kind of argument for extended extended cognition.
2) I take it that it is pretty common (typical?) for wholes to have properties not had by their parts, so it is not surprising that " the interaction process as a whole has properties that cannot be reduced to the
contributions of the isolated agents." This is pretty standard in the literature on mechanistic explanation. Carl Craver, for example, has a pretty well-known picture of how this typically goes. So, I don't think one needs to do a whole lot of heavy duty mathematical work to show this.