Getting into predictive processing's great guessing game: Bootstrap heaven or hell?



Publication Details

Hutto, D. D. (2018). Getting into predictive processing's great guessing game: Bootstrap heaven or hell?. Synthese: an international journal for epistemology, methodology and philosophy of science, 195 (6), 2445-2458.


Processing accounts of Cognition, PPC, promise to forge productive alliances that will unite approaches that are otherwise at odds (see Clark, A. Surfing uncertainty: prediction, action and the embodied mind. Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2016). Can it? This paper argues that it can't - or at least not so long as it sticks with the cognitivist rendering that Clark (2016) and others favor. In making this case the argument of this paper unfolds as follows: Sect. 1 describes the basics of PPC - its attachment to the idea that we perceive the world by guessing the world. It then details the reasons why so many find cognitivist interpretations to be inevitable. Section 2 examines how prominent proponents of cognitivist PPC have proposed dealing with a fundamental problem that troubles their accounts - the question of how the brain is able to get into the great guessing game in the first place. It is argued that on close inspection Clark's (2016) solution, which he calls bootstrap heaven is - once we take a realistic look at the situation of the brain - in fact bootstrap hell. Section 3 argues that it is possible to avoid dwelling in bootstrap hell if one adopts a radically enactive take on PPC. A brief sketch of what this might look like is provided.

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