Cognitive systems and the changing brain

Published

Journal Article

© 2017 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. The notion of cognitive system is widely used in explanations in cognitive psychology and neuroscience. Traditional approaches define cognitive systems in an agent-relative way, that is, via top-down functional decomposition that assumes a cognitive agent as starting point. The extended cognition movement challenged that approach by questioning the primacy of the notion of cognitive agent. In response, [Adams, F., and K. Aizawa. 2001. The Bounds of Cognition. Oxford, UK: Wiley-Blackwell.] suggested that to have a clear understanding of what a cognitive system is we may need to solve “the demarcation challenge”: the problem of identifying a reliable way to determine which mechanisms that are causally responsible for the production of a certain cognitive process constitute a cognitive system responsible for such process and which ones do not. Recently, [Rupert, R. 2009. Cognitive Systems and the Extended Mind. Oxford: Oxford University Press.] offered a solution based on the idea that the mechanisms that constitute a cognitive system are integrated in a particular sense. In this paper I critically review Rupert’s solution and argue against it. Additionally, I argue that a successful account of cognitive system must accommodate the fact that the neural mechanisms causally responsible for the production of a cognitive process are diachronically dynamic and yet functionally stable. At the end, I offer a suggestion as to how to accommodate this diachronic dynamicity without losing functional stability. I conclude by drawing some implications for the discussion on cognitive ontologies.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • De Brigard, F

Published Date

  • May 4, 2017

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 20 / 2

Start / End Page

  • 224 - 241

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1741-5918

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1386-9795

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1080/13869795.2017.1312503

Citation Source

  • Scopus