Cognitive systems and the changing brain

Journal Article (Journal Article)

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