Commentary on “Extended Cognition and the Search for the Mark of Constitution – A Promising Strategy?”

Publication Name

Studies in Brain and Mind


The discussion of extended cognition is premised on a metaphysical distinction between causation and constitution. For example, Rowlands (2009) notes that “EM [extended mind] is a claim about the composition or constitution of (some) mental processes” (2009, p. 54). Or, as Wheeler puts it: “Bare causal dependency of mentality on external factors […] is simply not enough for genuine cognitive extension. What is needed is constitutive dependence” (2010, p. 246). In this sense, Krickel (this volume) rightly notes that the current disagreement between friends and foes of extended cognition turns on a metaphysical dispute about what is constitutive of mentality and how to locate those constituents. Krickel (this volume) argues that our account of diachronic constitution fails to provide a convincing answer to the metaphysical dispute about ‘what is constitutive’ of mentality and ‘how to locate’ the relevant constituents. The central reason is that diachronic constitution fails the so-called ‘co-location condition,’ which Krickel argues is a necessary condition that an account of constitution must meet in the discussion over the extended mind. The co-location condition asserts that ‘cognition is located where and only where its constituents are located.’ We expose an ambiguity in the co-location condition, and show why this condition is no threat to our account of diachronic constitution. We conclude that the co-location condition is not a necessary condition that an account of constitution in the discussion over the extended mind must adhere to.

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