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Brains, vats and neurally-controlled animats.

Manson, Neil C. (2004) Brains, vats and neurally-controlled animats. Studies in history and philosophy of biological and biomedical sciences, 35 (2). pp. 249-268. ISSN 1369-8486

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The modern vat-brain debate is an epistemological one, and it focuses on the point of view a putatively deceived subject. Semantic externalists argue that we cannot coherently wonder whether we are brains in vats. This paper examines a new experimental paradigm for cognitive neuroscience � the neurally-controlled animat (NCA) paradigm � that seems to have a great deal in common with the vat-brain scenario. Neural cells are provided with a simulated body within an artificial world in order to study the brain both in vitro and in vivo. Given the similarity between the NCA scenario and the vat-brain scenario semantic externalism seems to undermine the utility of the NCA methodology. Three initial responses to the externalist challenge are offered. A fourth response clarifies the distinctive theoretical background to the NCA in �artificial life� and, in doing so, we uncover an anti-representationalist conception of the NCA. This distances the NCA paradigm from externalist objections and casts cognitive neuroscience, and the vat-brain debate, in a new light.

Item Type: Article
Journal or Publication Title: Studies in history and philosophy of biological and biomedical sciences
Uncontrolled Keywords: brain in a vat ; Putnam ; externalism ; animats ; extended cognition ; anti-representationalism
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
Departments: Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences > Politics & International Relations (Merged into PPR 2010-08-01)
ID Code: 526
Deposited By: Dr Neil C Manson
Deposited On: 01 Jun 2007
Refereed?: Yes
Published?: Published
Last Modified: 05 Nov 2013 16:46
Identification Number:

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