Publication 4499

Vernon D. (2016) Reconciling constitutive and behavioural autonomy: The challenge of modelling development in enactive cognition. Intellectica 65: 63–79. Fulltext at
In the enactive paradigm of cognitive science, development plays a crucial role in the realization of cognition. This position runs counter to the computational functionalism upon which cognitivist and classical artificial intelligence systems are founded, especially the assumption that cognition can be achieved by embedding pre-formed knowledge. The enactive stance involves a progressive phased transition from cognitive capacity to cognitive capability, highlighting the role of development in extending the timescale of a cognitive agent’s prospective abilities and in expanding its repertoire of effective action. We review briefly some necessary conditions for cognitive development, drawing on examples from developmental psychology, illustrating the ideas by looking at the ontogenesis of instrumental helping and collaboration in infants, and identifying some of the essential elements of a developmental cognitive architecture. We then focus on the fact that enactive systems are operationally-closed, autonomous, and self-maintaining. Consequently, there are organizational constitutive processes at play as well as behavioural ones. Reconciling these complementary processes poses a significant challenge for the creation of complete model of development that must show how constitutive autonomy is compatible with and may even give rise to behavioural autonomy. We conclude by drawing attention to recent research which could provide a way of addressing this challenge.

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