The Origin of Adaptation, Effective Procedures, and the Reality of Mechanism

The next (hybrid) meeting of the seminar „Philosophy of Cognitive Science” will take place on  April, 27th, at 10:30 (AM Warsaw, CET). This time we will meet in person (and online), the seminar will take place in Staszic Place (IFiS, PAN)room: 161, and at GoogleMeet (for link ask:

Our guest will be Hajo Greif (Warsaw University of Technology). We will discuss the manuscript: The Origin of Adaptation, Effective Procedures, and the Reality of Mechanism

Abstract:  We will explore the conceptions of ‘mechanism’ in W. Ross Ashby’s machine model of adaptive organisation vis-á-vis Alan M. Turing’s contemporaneous notion of mechanism as an ‘effective procedure’ of calculating functions. Although taking their cues from the same concept of mechanism in the history of philosophy, and although developing in a shared intellectual context, there are relevant differences to consider. First, the referent of ‘mechanism’ is the computational model in Turing and the system under investigation in Ashby, who sought to identify a shared kind of mechanism in various kinds of systems. Second, the respective conceptions of mechanisms account for differential degrees in the models’ capacity of generalisation. Third, Turing’s and Ashby’s conceptions of mechanism testify to distinct sets of metaphysical premisses that cut across contemporary mechanist accounts of computation in cognitive science and philosophy of mind.

Greif – Origins of Adaptation, 2023

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