The Society for the Philosophy of Information, and The Future of the Information Society Research Group at Duke University organizes a IACAP’15 symposium on the topic: Dynamics and Computation in Cognition – a Collaborative Approach
Randall Beer (Indiana University – Bloomington)
Title: Information Processing and Dynamics in Minimally Cognitive Agents
Abstract: There has been considerable debate in the literature about the relative merits of information processing versus dynamical approaches to understanding cognitive processes. In this talk, we explore the relationship between these two styles of explanation using a model agent evolved to solve a relational categorization task. Specifically, we separately analyze the operation of this agent using the mathematical tools of information theory and dynamical systems theory. Information-theoretic analysis reveals how task- relevant information flows through the system to be combined into a categorization decision. Dynamical analysis reveals the key geometrical and temporal interrelationships underlying the categorization decision. Finally, we propose a framework for directly relating these two different styles of explanation and discuss the possible implications of our analysis for some of the ongoing debates in cognitive science.
** Gualtiero Piccinini** (University of Missouri – St. Louis)
Title: Computation is Dynamical
Abstract: The view that cognition is a form of dynamics is sometimes contrasted with the view that cognition is a form of computation, as if the two were mutually exclusive. But this is a false contrast. Computation is dynamical too (in the relevant sense), although not every dynamical system is computational (in the relevant sense). Therefore, the important question about cognition is whether the dynamical system that constitutes the cognitive system is computational. I argue that it is.
Felipe De Brigard (Duke University)
Title: Dynamical Cognitive Systems
Abstract: The notion of “cognitive system” is widely used in explanations in 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 and Aizawa (2001) 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 are causally responsible for the production of a certain cognitive process do constitute a cognitive system responsible for such process and which ones do not. Recently, Robert Rupert (2009; 2011) offered a solution. In this talk I critically review Rupert’s solution and argue against it. I also 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 both dynamical and functionally stable.