Dissolving the Causal-Constitution Fallacy: Diachronic Constitution and the Metaphysics of Extended Cognition

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Studies in Brain and Mind


This chapter questions the causal-constitution fallacy raised against the extended mind. It does so by presenting our signature temporal thesis about how to understand constitutive relations in the context of the extended mind, and with respect to dynamical systems, more broadly. We call this thesis diachronic constitution. We will argue that temporalising the constitution relation is not as remarkable (nor problematic) as it might initially seem. It is (arguably) inevitable, given local interactions between microscale and macroscale states of (coupled) dynamical systems. We focus primarily on the metaphysics of the extended mind in this paper. However, we also show how our account of diachronic constitution has important implications for the metaphysics of dependence relations more generally as well as an emerging literature on inter-level explanations in the mechanistic framework applied to the discussion over extended, enactive and embodied cognition.

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