Of Computations and Dynamic Systems - An Overview of the Dynamicist Controversy in Cognitive Science. Technical Report 2006-05
This paper constitutes an overview of two competing conceptual frameworks in the study of cognition, the now standard computational approach and the more recent, and controversial, dynamical hypothesis in cognitive science, championed by T. van Gelder et al. Through such conceptual and methodological disputes about the nature of cognition, a debate about the adequacy of their respective models has been the main ground for disagreements. I propose to explore each framework, or paradigm, in turn, by focusing on their definition and use of a number of critical characteristics of intelligent behavior, namely that of representations, computation, and exactly what is a cognitive feature or process. The conclusions that I have reached are twofold: firstly, the dynamicist view of the computational approach to cognition in no way discredits its relevance to cognitive modeling, since dynamicists are not concerned with the same features of mental processes in their models, and their evaluation of what counts as computational is based on a common misconception, namely a confusion between the abstract and formal concept of computation with that of physical symbol systems. Secondly, the type of explanation used by the dynamicist view is quite different, for it concerns nomological explanations (i.e. explanations through covering laws), whereas the computational view frames its explanations in a mechanistic manner.
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Pronovost, Sylvain. (2006). Of Computations and Dynamic Systems - An Overview of the Dynamicist Controversy in Cognitive Science. Technical Report 2006-05. Cognitive Science Technical Report Series. Department of Cognitive Science.