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date: 17 April 2021

Abstract and Keywords

The debates within 4E cognitive science surrounding extended cognition turn on competing ontological conceptions of cognitive processes. The embedded theory (henceforth EMT) and the family of extended theories of cognition (henceforth EXT) disagree about what it is for a state or process to count as cognitive. Advocates of EMT continue to interpret the concept of cognition along more or less traditional lines as being constituted by computational, rule-based operations carried out on internal representational structures that carry information about the world. EXT by contrast argues that bodily actions, and the environmental resources that agents act upon, can under certain conditions count as constituent parts of a cognitive process. I show how the debate between functionalist EXT and EMT ends in deadlock without any clear winner. I finish up by looking to radical embodied cognitive science for an alternative ontology of cognition that can provide grounds for favoring EXT over EMT.

Keywords: extended cognition, embedded cognition, scaffolded cognition, radical embodied cognitive science, extended functionalism, dynamical systems theory, cognitive kinds

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