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What is cognitive about ‘plant cognition’?

Lee, Jonny (2023) What is cognitive about ‘plant cognition’? [Preprint]

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Abstract

There is growing evidence that plants possess abilities associated with cognition, such as decision-making, anticipation and learning. And yet, the cognitive status of plants continues to be contested. Among the threats to plant cognitive status is the ‘Representation Demarcation Challenge’ which points to the absence of a seemingly defining aspect of cognition, namely, computation over representation with non-derived content. Defenders of plant cognition may appeal to post-cognitivist perspectives, such as enactivism, which challenge the assumptions of the Representation Demarcation Challenge. This points to an impasse in the debate over plant cognition as it collapses into perennial disagreements over the best way to conceptualise the very nature of cognition. I propose a path that allows us to bypass this quagmire by reconceiving the question of what is cognitive about ‘plant cognition’ in terms of a quest to map the many possible adaptive capacities and behaviours more-or-less associated with cognition, alongside their underlying processes and mechanisms. In turn, we can examine the degrees of similarity between plants and more paradigmatically cognitive creatures. The ‘piecemeal approach’ thus shifts attention away from the abstract and dichotomous question of whether plants are cognitive and towards a series of more precise questions about the many ways and extent to which plants possess features associated with cognition. Ultimately, the value of viewing plants through a cognitive lens may lie less in determining whether they are bona fide cognitive creatures and more in guiding research into concrete abilities and their underlying causes.


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Item Type: Preprint
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Lee, Jonnyleejonathan.cw@gmail.com0000-0003-4453-2247
Keywords: cognition; plant cognition; plant neurobiology; mark of the cognitive; cognitive representation; mechanism; mechanistic explanation
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Neuroscience > Cognitive Neuroscience
Specific Sciences > Cognitive Science
Specific Sciences > Psychology > Comparative Psychology and Ethology
Specific Sciences > Cognitive Science > Computation
Specific Sciences > Cognitive Science > Concepts and Representations
Depositing User: Dr Jonny Lee
Date Deposited: 16 Mar 2023 13:53
Last Modified: 16 Mar 2023 13:53
Item ID: 21881
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Neuroscience > Cognitive Neuroscience
Specific Sciences > Cognitive Science
Specific Sciences > Psychology > Comparative Psychology and Ethology
Specific Sciences > Cognitive Science > Computation
Specific Sciences > Cognitive Science > Concepts and Representations
Date: 2023
URI: http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/id/eprint/21881

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