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The cure for the cure: Networking the extended mind

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The hypothesis of extended cognition (HEC), or the claim that cognitive processes are not entirely organism-bound and can extend into the world, has received a barrage of criticism. Likewise, defenders of HEC have responded and even retreated into more moderate positions. In this paper, I trace the debate, rehearsing what I take to be the three strongest cases against HEC: nonderived content, causally natural kinds, and informational integration. I then argue that so far, the replies have been unsatisfactory, mainly because they rest on tacit assumptions about the nature of “human organisms,” which are the very subjects in question. One such reply, Clark's (2008) recent hypothesis of organism-centered cognition (HOC), is shown to be a particularly hasty retreat, specifically in terms of tackling the issue of informational integration. Namely, my position is that Clark concedes too quickly that the organism is the “chief executor” of this cognitive function and I claim this on the grounds that (1) not all human organisms integrate information in the way Weiskopf (2008) argues they do, and (2) it is not impossible for external tools to be an informationally integrative component of a “systemic whole.”

Keywords: Extended Mind; Informational Integration; Nonderived Content

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: August 1, 2011

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