Postgraduates work in progress

Speaker: Anco Peeters

Title: The fall of functionalism

Abstract: Recent developments in cognitive science have put pressure on the need to invoke representationalist, computationalist, and mechanistic approaches in understanding the mind. For this reason, functionalism, the textbook framework for understanding the mind and traditionally cast in terms of computational mechanisms which manipulate mental representations, has recently seen numerous attempts at revision of its core commitments. But just how much adjustment concerning such commitments can the functionalist theory of mind take? I will argue that, when we look at these revisions, functionalism comes close to enactivist theories of mind and potentially collapses into them, while still remaining 'functionalist'. In order to establish this, I will depart from Gualtiero Piccinini's analysis of the core assumptions behind functionalism, before focusing on two specific developments. Looking wide, I examine how the different incarnations or 'waves' of the extended mind hypothesis have influenced the functionalist program. Looking inwards, I will look at attempts at recasting functionalism's commitment to computational processes in non-semantic, non-representational forms by Gualtiero Piccinini and Michael Wheeler. Contrary to what is often stated in current debates, I will conclude that functionalism and enactivism are potentially compatible with each other.


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Dec 07 2018 -

Postgraduates work in progress

2018-12-07: Anco Peeters

Room 7.01, Dugald Stewart Building, 3 Charles Street, Edinburgh, EH8 9AD