What Is a Cognitive System? In Defense of the Conditional Probability of Co-contribution Account

in Cognitive Semantics
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A theory of cognitive systems individuation is presented and defended. The approach has some affinity with Leonard Talmy’s Overlapping Systems Model of Cognitive Organization, and the paper’s first section explores aspects of Talmy’s view that are shared by the view developed herein. According to the view on offer – the conditional probability of co-contribution account (cpc) – a cognitive system is a collection of mechanisms that contribute, in overlapping subsets, to a wide variety of forms of intelligent behavior. Central to this approach is the idea of an integrated system. A formal characterization of integration is laid out in the form of a conditional-probability based measure of the clustering of causal contributors to the production of intelligent behavior. I relate the view to the debate over extended and embodied cognition and respond to objections that have been raised in print by Andy Clark, Colin Klein, and Felipe de Brigard.

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