PhilSci Archive

Rethinking the problem of cognition

Akagi, Mikio (2017) Rethinking the problem of cognition. Synthese, 195. pp. 3547-3570. ISSN 1573-0964

Akagi-Rethinking the Problem of Cognition ts.pdf

Download (516kB) | Preview


The present century has seen renewed interest in characterizing cognition, the object of inquiry of the cognitive sciences. In this paper, I describe the problem of cognition—the absence of a positive characterization of cognition despite a felt need for one. It is widely recognized that the problem is motivated by decades of controversy among cognitive scientists over foundational questions, such as whether non-neural parts of the body or environment can realize cognitive processes, or whether plants and microbes have cognitive processes. The dominant strategy for addressing the problem of cognition is to seek a dichotomous criterion that vindicates some set of controversial claims. However, I argue that the problem of cognition is also motivated by ongoing conceptual development in cognitive science, and I describe four benefits that a characterization of cognition could confer. Given these benefits, I recommend an alternative criterion of success, ecumenical extensional adequacy, on which the aim is to describe the variation in expert judgments rather than to correct this variation by taking sides in sectarian disputes. I argue that if we had an ecumenical solution to the problem of cognition, we would have achieved much of what we should want from a “mark of the cognitive.”

Export/Citation: EndNote | BibTeX | Dublin Core | ASCII/Text Citation (Chicago) | HTML Citation | OpenURL
Social Networking:
Share |

Item Type: Published Article or Volume
Akagi, Mikiom.akagi@tcu.edu0000-0003-0996-487X
Additional Information: This is the accepted version, before final proofing. Please cite the published version.
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Cognitive Science
General Issues > Theory Change
Depositing User: Dr. Mikio Akagi
Date Deposited: 05 Dec 2021 05:06
Last Modified: 05 Dec 2021 05:06
Item ID: 19977
Journal or Publication Title: Synthese
Publisher: Springer (Springer Science+Business Media B.V.)
Official URL:
DOI or Unique Handle:
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Cognitive Science
General Issues > Theory Change
Date: 14 March 2017
Page Range: pp. 3547-3570
Volume: 195
ISSN: 1573-0964

Monthly Views for the past 3 years

Monthly Downloads for the past 3 years

Plum Analytics

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item