For millennia people have wondered what makes the living different from the non-living. Beginning in the mid-1980s, artificial life has studied living systems using a synthetic approach: build life in order to understand it better, be it by means of software, hardware, or wetware. This review provides a summary of the advances that led to the development of artificial life, its current research topics, and open problems and opportunities. We classify artificial life research into 14 themes: origins of life, autonomy, self-organization, adaptation (including evolution, development, and learning), ecology, artificial societies, behavior, computational biology, artificial chemistries, information, living technology, art, and philosophy. Being interdisciplinary, artificial life seems to be losing its boundaries and merging with other fields. Relevance: Artificial life has contributed to philosophy of biology and of cognitive science, thus making it an important field related to constructivism.
Aizawa K. (2014) The enactivist revolution. Avant 5(2): 19–42. https://cepa.info/4485
Among the many ideas that go by the name of “enactivism” there is the idea that by “cognition” we should understand what is more commonly taken to be behavior. For clarity, label such forms of enactivism “enactivismb.” This terminology requires some care in evaluating enactivistb claims. There is a genu-ine risk of enactivist and non-enactivist cognitive scientists talking past one another. So, for example, when enactivistsb write that “cognition does not require representations” they are not necessarily denying what cognitivists claim when they write that “cognition requires representations.” This paper will draw attention to instances of some of these unnecessary confusions.
Aizawa K. (2015) What is this cognition that is supposed to be embodied? Philosophical Psychology 28(6): 755–775. https://cepa.info/3949
Many cognitive scientists have recently championed the thesis that cognition is embodied. In principle, explicating this thesis should be relatively simple. There are, essentially, only two concepts involved: cognition and embodiment. After articulating what will here be meant by ‘embodiment’, this paper will draw attention to cases in which some advocates of embodied cognition apparently do not mean by ‘cognition’ what has typically been meant by ‘cognition’. Some advocates apparently mean to use ‘cognition’ not as a term for one, among many, causes of behavior, but for what has more often been called “behavior.” Some consequences for this proposal are considered.
An important question in the debate over embodied, enactive, and extended cognition has been what has been meant by “cognition”. What is this cognition that is supposed to be embodied, enactive, or extended? Rather than undertake a frontal assault on this question, however, this paper will take a different approach. In particular, we may ask how cognition is supposed to be related to behavior. First, we could ask whether cognition is supposed to be (a type of) behavior. Second, we could ask whether we should attempt to understand cognitive processes in terms of antecedently understood cognitive behaviors. This paper will survey some of the answers that have been (implicitly or explicitly) given in the embodied, enactive, and extended cognition literature, then suggest reasons to believe that we should answer both questions in the negative.
Alksnis N. & Reynolds J. (2021) Revaluing the behaviorist ghost in enactivism and embodied cognition. Synthese 198(5785–5807). https://cepa.info/6555
Despite its short historical moment in the sun, behaviorism has become something akin to a theoria non grata, a position that dare not be explicitly endorsed. The reasons for this are complex, of course, and they include sociological factors which we cannot consider here, but to put it briefly: many have doubted the ambition to establish law-like relationships between mental states and behavior that dispense with any sort of mentalistic or intentional idiom, judging that explanations of intelligent behavior require reference to qualia and/or mental events. Today, when behaviorism is discussed at all, it is usually in a negative manner, either as an attempt to discredit an opponent’s view via a reductio, or by enabling a position to distinguish its identity and positive claims by reference to what it is (allegedly) not. In this paper, however, we argue that the ghost of behaviorism is present in influential, contemporary work in the field of embodied and enactive cognition, and even in aspects of the phenomenological tradition that these theorists draw on. Rather than take this to be a problem for these views as some have (e.g. Block, J Philos 102:259–272, 2005; Jacob, Rev Philos Psychol 2(3):519–540, 2011; O’Brien and Opie, Philos 43:723–729, 2015), we argue that once the behaviorist dimensions are clarified and distinguished from the straw-man version of the view, it is in fact an asset, one which will help with task of setting forth a scientifically reputable version of enactivism and/or philosophical behaviorism that is nonetheless not brain-centric but behavior-centric. While this is a bit like “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” strategy, as Shaun Gallagher notes (in Philos Stud 176(3):839–8512019), with the shared enemy of behaviorism and enactivism being classical Cartesian views and/or orthodox cognitivism in its various guises, the task of this paper is to render this alliance philosophically plausible.
Asaro P. M. (2006) On the origins of the synthetic mind: Working models, mechanisms, and simulations. . https://cepa.info/4732
This dissertation reconsiders the nature of scientific models through an historical study of the development of electronic models of the brain by Cybernetics researchers in the 1940s. By examining how these unique models were used in the brain sciences, it develops the concept of a “working model” for the brain sciences. Working models differ from theoretical models in that they are subject to manipulation and interactive experimentation, i.e., they are themselves objects of study and part of material culture. While these electronic brains are often disparaged by historians as toys and publicity stunts, I argue that they mediated between physiological theories of neurons and psychological theories of behavior so as to leverage their compelling material performances against the lack of observational data and sparse theoretical connections between neurology and psychology. I further argue that working models might be used by cognitive science to better understand how the brain develops performative representations of the world.
Baerveldt C. & Verheggen T. (1999) Enactivism and the experiential reality of culture: Rethinking the epistemological basis of cultural psychology. Culture & Psychology 5(2): 183–206. https://cepa.info/2414
The key problem of cultural psychology comprises a paradox: while people believe they act on the basis of their own authentic experience, cultural psychologists observe their behavior to be socially patterned. It is argued that, in order to account for those patterns, cultural psychology should take human experience as its analytical starting point. Nevertheless, there is a tendency within cultural psychology to either neglect human experience, by focusing exclusively on discourse, or to consider the structure of this experience to originate in an already produced cultural order. For an alternative approach, we turn to the enactive view of cognition developed by Humberto Maturana and Francisco Varela. Their theory of autonomy can provide the epistemological basis for a cultural psychology that explains how experience can become socially patterned in the first place. Cultural life forms are then considered as consensually coordinated, embodied practices.
Radical embodied cognitive science is split into two camps: the ecological approach and the enactive approach. We propose that these two approaches can be brought together into a productive synthesis. The key is to recognize that the two approaches are pursuing different but complementary types of explanation. Both approaches seek to explain behavior in terms of the animal–environment relation, but they start at opposite ends. Ecological psychologists pursue an ontological strategy. They begin by describing the habitat of the species, and use this to explain how action possibilities are constrained for individual actors. Enactivists, meanwhile, pursue an epistemic strategy: start by characterizing the exploratory, self-regulating behavior of the individual organism, and use this to understand how that organism brings forth its animal-specific umwelt. Both types of explanation are necessary: the ontological strategy explains how structure in the environment constrains how the world can appear to an individual, while the epistemic strategy explains how the world can appear differently to different members of the same species, relative to their skills, abilities, and histories. Making the distinction between species habitat and animal-specific umwelt allows us to understand the environment in realist terms while acknowledging that individual living organisms are phenomenal beings.
Bagheri Noaparast K. (2000) Constructs and words. Constructivism in the Human Sciences 5(1): 65–70. https://cepa.info/1058
What is the main characteristic of constructive explanation? In other words, what is the nature of a construct and, consequently, what kind of relationship is there between constructs and behavior? Kelly stated that a “psychological response is initially and basically the outcome of a construing act." (1955) Somewhere else, he asserts it more clearly: “Since they construe them differently, they will anticipate them differently and will behave differently as a consequence of their anticipations.” (Kelly, 1963, p. 90) The relationship between constructs and “psychological response” could be considered in terms of either “causation” or “implication." Relevance: This paper deals with the relation between constructs and words in George Kelly’s personal construct psychology.
Baquedano C. & Fabar C. (2017) Modeling Subjects’ Experience While Modeling the Experimental Design: A Mild-Neurophenomenology-Inspired Approach in the Piloting Phase. Constructivist Foundations 12(2): 166–179. https://cepa.info/4070
Context: The integration of data measured in first- and third-person frameworks is a challenge that becomes more prominent as we attempt to refine the ties between the dimensions we assume to be objective and our experience itself. As a result, cognitive science has been a target for criticism from the epistemological and methodological point of view, which has resulted in the emergence of new approaches. Neurophenomenology has been proposed as a means to address these limitations. The methodological application of this discipline, even in its mildest form, enriches the methodology typically used in cognitive sciences. Problem: Nowadays psychological studies are difficult to replicate. As a way to achieve replication of results published in a previous study in order to develop a methodological adaptation suitable for electroencephalographic (EEG) measurements in a subsequent experiment, first-person accounts from the participants in our pilot study were included in the experiment construction. This study’s objective is to show the benefit of including a mild-neurophenomenology-inspired approach in the adaptation from an original paradigm, which requires, foremost, the ability to replicate the original results. Method: Interviews with open and semi-structured questions were carried out at the end of an Approach-Avoidance Task (AAT. The first-person reports, together with the behavioral outcomes of each pilot, were taken into account for the development of the next piloting phase until replication of the original results was achieved, and the final experimental design was elaborated. Results: A sequence of four pilots, where the integration of third- and first-person information derived from subjects’ behavior and reported experiences while carrying them out rendered the behavioral replication we sought to achieve, providing support for a first-person enriched cognitive science paradigm. Implications: Including first-person accounts systematically during the development and performance of classic cognitive paradigms ensures that those paradigms are measuring what they claim to measure. This is the next logical step to improve replication rates, to refine the explanation of the results and avoid confounding third-person data interpretation. Constructivist content: Including first-person experiences and acknowledging the active role that participants’ experiences regarding the paradigm had in the modeling of its final version is in concordance with a constructivist standing.