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Department
Cognitive Science
Course
COG250Y1
Professor
John Vervaeke
Semester
Fall

Description
SYNOPTIC  INTEGRATION:     • A  vision  of  Cognitive  Science  opposing  generic  nominalism  and   interdisciplinary  eclecticism   • Generic  nominalism  posits  that  cognitive  science  is  nothing  more  than  a  name   you  can  use  to  collectively  refer  to  sciences  including  psychology,  philosophy,   AI,  etc.     • Interdisciplinary  Eclecticism  posits  that  cognitive  science  is  a  “forum”  for   people  from  different  disciplines  can  discuss  and  share  ideas  –  often   compared  to  interfaith  dialogue,  its  tolerant  of  the  other  disciplines  and   ideas,  but  doesn’t  contribute  much  to  each  individual  discipline   • Synoptic  Integration  aims  for  the  complete  integration  of  information  from   one  discipline  to  another   • Goals  of  cognitive  science:   o Analyze  cognition  down  to  its  fundamental  processes   o Formalize  an  explanation  using  math  and  science  without  invoking   cognition  itself   o Mechanize  cognition   • Synoptic  Integration  aims  to  complete  to  goals  of  cognitive  science  by   connecting  information  effectively  and  efficiently  through  apt  problem   finding  and  problem  formulation   o Aims  to  identify  gaps  in  understanding,  and  bridge  those  gaps   o Since  Cogsci  is  so  interrelated,  advancements  in  one  field  will   inevitably  have  impacts  in  other  fields.  If  we  properly  integrate  these   fields,  we  can  much  more  effectively  facilitate  this  process     NATURALISTIC  IMPERATIVE  IN  COGNITIVE  SCIENCE:     • In  cognitive  science,  the  goal  is  to  explain  cognition  through  the  lens  of  the   naturalistic  imperative.       1) ANALYZE   a. To  discover  those  basic  processes  in  terms  of  which  complex   mental  phenomena  can  be  comprehensively  explained   b. Discover  laws  or  principles  that  explain  the  complex  cognitive   phenomena  in  terms  of  more  basic  cognitive  phenomena   2) FORMALIZE   a. The  requirement  that  these  laws  must  not  make  use  of  a   rational  agent  or  process  for  their  operation   b. Avoids  the  homuncular  fallacy  by  explaining  the  mind  and   cognition  in  a  strict  mathematical  sense,  (not  in  any  mental   terms)   c. When  formalized  we  explain  things  “mindlessly”  but  still  in  a   lawful,  principled  manner   d. Apply  mathematics  to  cognition,  render  the  mind  calculable   3) MECHANIZE     a. To  test  if  analysis  and  formalization  have  been  successful,  we   try  to  implement  the  formal  system  in  a  machine   b. Useful  to  “flush  out”  any  hidden  homunculars  in  reasoning   c. If  we  can  run  our  formalized  cognition  into  a  machine,  we  can   be  confident  that  we  have  successfully  understood  cognition  in   non-­‐mental  terms       RESEMBLANCE  THEORY:     • An  ability  to  categorize  things  is  a  candidate  for  a  basic  mental  process,   (read:  a  process  that  will  yield  an  analysis  and  formal  explanation  of  higher   mental  phenomena)   • Categorizing:   o Allows  for  the  coding  of  experience   o We  do  not  need  to  treat  each  thing  as  a  raw  individual  that  has  to  be   learned  from  scratch   o Allows  us  to  draw  general  conclusions  about  all,  (or  most),  members   of  a  category   • Main  claims  of  resemblance  theory:   o Defended  by  Smith,  criticized  by  Lance  Rips   o Proposed  that  we  group  things  together  because  we  find  them  similar   while  we  find  other  things  dissimilar   o Similarity  CAUSES  categorization     1. We  notice  patterns  of  similarity  and  dissimilarity  among  things   2. We  group  together  the  similar  things  and  keep  apart  the  dissimilar   things     o Following  Tversky,  Smith  claims  to  be  able  to  formalize  similarity.  If   formalized,  we  would  have  a  natural  account  of  a  basic  mental  process   that  we  could  use  to  analyze  and  formalize  those  processes  dependent   upon  it   § Smith’s  formalization  was  problematic  because  it  involved   adjustable  variables  to  gauge  salience  of  features,  and   importance  –  which  inevitably  becomes  a  homuncular  fallacy,   who  decides  salience,  and  by  what  method?   § Based  on  a  1-­‐to-­‐1  comparison  of  an  object  and  established   categories.  It  presupposes  the  existence  of  categories  while  it  is   categorization  we  are  trying  to  explain   o Necessarily  presupposes  that  similarity  is  simply  there  in  the  world  to   be  discovered,  that  no  rational  agent  is  necessary  to  pick  out  and   discern  similarities   • Goodman  pointed  out  that  any  two  things  can  be  infinitely  similar,  and   infinitely  dissimilar,  (both  don’t  weigh  over  100  tons,  both  didn’t  exist  at  the   big  bang),  HOW  do  we  pick  out  which  features  are  relevant  and  similar   amongst  all  the  options?   • Lance  Rips  showed  a  double  dissociation,  (you  can  alter  similarity  judgments   and  leave  categorization  the  same,  and  you  can  alter  categorization   judgments  and  leave  similarity  judgments  unchanged)   o The  causal  pathway  appears  to  go  both  ways,  as  opposed  to   Resemblance  theory’s  claim  that  similarity  on  its  own  causes   categorization.   o An  unrelated  group  of  things  can  be  tied  together  when  given  a   category.  Seemingly  dissimilar  things  can  be  tied  together  once  given   a  category,  (things  you  take  from  a  fire,  for  example)   • Smith  responded  to  Rips  by  making  a  distinction  between  similarity-­‐based   categorization  and  reasoning  based  categorization.   o Similarity-­‐based  is  based  on  features,  (lays  eggs,  nests  in  trees)   o Reasoning  based  is  based  on  knowledge,  belief,  and  the  attempt  to   form  a  lay  theory  of  the  object,  (produce  offspring  of  the  same  kind)   o Though  this  distinction  is  weak  and  seemingly  impossible  to  justify,   and  again  sounded  as  though  these  features  simply  exist  in  the  world   and  the  others  are  theoretically  discovered   • MAIN  PROBLEMS:   1. Presupposes  the  very  ability,  (categorization),  that  it  is  supposed  to  be   explaining   2. Presupposes  the  very  complex  cognitive  abilities  a  basic  process  is   supposed  to  explain,  (homuncular)   3. Thus,  it  does  not  satisfy  the  naturalistic  imperative       THE  CLASSICAL  THEORY  OF  CONCEPTS:     The  classical  view  of  the  concept  is  that  it  is  a  mental  definition.  There  are  six   characteristics  of  the  classical  theory  of  concepts:     1. The  meaning  of  a  concept  can  be  captured  by  a  conjunctive  list  of  the   attributes  or  features   2. These  attributes  are  atomic,  (you  can’t  break  them  down  any  further)   3. Each  attribute  is  singly  necessary  and  all  are  jointly  sufficient   4. What  is  a  member  of  the  extension  of  a  concept  and  what  is  not  is  clearly   defined,  (conceptual  boundaries  are  clear  and  distinct)   û Wittgenstein’s  example  of  providing  a  definition  for  a  game  –  we  all   clearly  know  what  games  are  and  can  identify  them  readily,  but  any   proposed  definition  will  either  exclude  things  that  we  are  sure  are   games,  or  include  things  we  are  sure  are  not  games   û Wittgenstein  proposed  a  weaving  of  FAMILY  RESEMBLANCES**   rather  than  grouping  things  by  means  of  a  definition   û Boundaries  do  not  seem  clear  and  distinct.  A  chair  is  certainly  a  piece   of  furniture,  but  is  a  clock?  The  same  person  may  give  different   answers  on  different  occasions.  It  seems  FUZZY**   5. All  members  of  a  concept’s  extension  are  equally  representative  since  all   members  share  the  set  of  features  specified  by  the  definition   û Not  all  members  seem  to  be  equally  representative  of  a  concept.  For   example,  people  rate  robins  as  “better”  birds  than  penguins.     6. When  organized  into  a  taxonomic  hierarchy  the  definition  of  a  subordinate   concept  includes  the  definition  of  the  super  ordina
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