Intensional biases in affordance perception: an explanatory issue for radical enactivism

Synthese 198 (Suppl 17):4183-4203 (2018)
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Abstract

Radical Enactivism holds that the best explanation of basic forms of cognition is provided without involving information of any sort. According to this view, the ability to perceive visual affordances should be accounted for in terms of extensional covariations between variables spanning the agent’s body and the environment. Contrary to Radical Enactivism, I argue that the intensional properties of cognition cannot be ignored, and that the way in which an agent represents the world has consequences on the explanation of basic sensorimotor abilities. To support this claim, I show that the perception of visual affordances is not segregated from higher forms of cognition; rather, it is modulated by the agent’s ability to recognize the semantic identity of the visual target. Accordingly, since the semantic recognition of an object involves a way of representing it under a certain description, it can be inferred that the perception of visual affordances cannot be accounted for without considering the intensional properties of cognition. This poses an explanatory issue for Radical Enactivism.

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Silvano Zipoli Caiani
Università degli Studi di Firenze