030099 Cognitive Systems and the Extended Mind (Venter)

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In this course, we will work through Rob Rupert’s 2009 ‘Cognitive Systems and the Extended Mind’. The book is a survey of philosophical issues that are faced by situated cognition with a particular focus on extended cognition – the view that cognitive processes extend beyond the boundary of the agent. The book deals, amongst other issues, with the problem of demarcation – the question about what is cognitive and what is not. Rupert argues that an extended approach to this problem is implausible. He posits a systems-based approach, i.e., the view that “a state is cognitive if and only if it consists in, or is realized by, the activation of one or more mechanisms that are elements of the integrated set members of which contribute causally and distinctively to the production of cognitive phenomena” (Rupert, 2009). We will critically examine this debate and evaluate the implication for both the situated and classical views in cognitive science.