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How to find us dr. F.A. (Fred) Keijzer

dr. F.A. Keijzer

Associate professor
dr. F.A. Keijzer

A selection of annotated papers

Meaningful meaning: Changing relations between science and religion. [ pdf

(in press, in I. Czachesz and T. Biro (Eds.). Changing minds: Religion and cognition through the ages. Leuven: Peeters.

I analyze the relation between science and religion from the perspective of embodied cognition. Embodied cognition stresses the need to integrate knowledge with the motives and perceived relevance of organisms. Building on Kim Sterelny’s idea of evolving preference structures (new behavioral possibilities benefit from acquiring new accompanying motivations), the paper develops the idea science and religion perform different and complementary roles in societies. Possible implications for current relations between science and religion are discussed.

Cognition in plants. [ pdf

(with Paco Calvo, first author, University of Murcia)

(in press, in F. Balu┼íka (Ed.) Plant – environment interactions: Behavioral perspective. Elsevier.)

To what extent can plants be considered cognitive from the perspective of embodied cognition? Cognition is interpreted very broadly within embodied cognition, and the current evidence for plant intelligence might find an important theoretical background here. However, embodied cognition does stress the presence of animal-like perception-action coupling as a key feature for cognitive systems to arise. In this paper, we discuss whether, or to what extent, plants may qualify as cognitive systems, given this criterion.

The human stain: Why cognitivism can’t tell us what cognition is & what it does. [ pdf

(with Pamela Lyon, first author, [University of Adelaide])

(2007, in B.Wallace (Ed.). The mind, the world and the body. (pp. 132-165). Exeter, UK: Imprint.)

What is cognition? It is now common knowledge that, so far, no one has a ready answer. It is much less generally acknowledged that this is a matter of strong concern when it comes to the further development of the cognitive sciences. We discuss how cognitivism provided a strongly human orientation on cognition, which hindered the development of the standard piecemeal approach, which has been so extremely successful in the biological sciences more generally: first study simple cases and then move onward to more difficult ones.  

Robotics, biological grounding and the Fregean tradition. [ pdf

(with Marti Hooijmans, first author)

(2007, Pragmatics & Cognition, 15(3), 515-546)

We discuss the general tendency to resist a full biological interpretation of cognition. Once one starts worrying about grounding problems in ‘cognitive’ artefacts like robots, a full turn to biology seems inevitable. We argue that this ‘natural tendency’ is resisted by the strong presence of a ‘Fregean tradition’ in the cognitive sciences. This tradition has much to offer, but is much better suited to articulate an inter-agent communicative domain, rather than the intra-agent constitutive problems of cognition. Here a turn to biology will be essential.

Embedded cognition and mental causation: Setting empirical bounds on metaphysics [ pdf ]

(with Maurice Schouten, second author, Tilburg University)

( 2007, Synthese, 158, 109-125)

We argue that embedded cognition provides an argument against Jaegwon Kim’s neural reduction of mental causation. Because some mental, or at least psychological processes have to be cast in an externalist way, Kim’s argument can be said to lead to the conclusion that mental causation is as safe as any other form of higher-level of causation.

Evolution in action in perception: A review of Alva Noë’s Action in perception. [ pdf ]

(2007, Philosophical Psychology, 20(4), 519-529)

A review of Noë’s book which stresses the primary need for ‘biological aptness’ also when dealing with phenomenological issues. The review is scheduled to be published with a reply by Noë.

Differentiating animality from agency: Towards a foundation for cognition. [ pdf ]

(2006, in R. Sun & N. Miyake (Eds.), Proceedings of CogSci/ICCS 2006 (pp.1593-1598). Alpha NJ: Sheridan Printing.)

In this paper I differentiate between agency and what I call animality, roughly the sensorimotor organization which is present in acting animals. While agency remains extremely difficult to tie down to specific kinds of systems, I argue that animality allows one to deal with a number of foundational problems relating to cognition and agency.

Principles of minimal cognition: Casting cognition as sensorimotor coordination [ pdf ]

(with Marc van Duijn, first author, and Daan Franken, third author, both University of Groningen)

(2006, in Adaptive Behavior, 14(2), 157-170)

We investigate the notion of minimal cognition, and claim that this notion already applies to bacterial behavior. On the basis of the example of E. coli, we argue that the basis of cognition can be profitably cast as sensorimotor coordinations which subserve the metabolic requirements of organisms.

Embodied cognition meets theoretical behaviorism: Two theoretical analyses of behavior [ pdf ]

(2005, Philosophical psychology, 18(1), 123-143)

John Staddon wrote a book Adaptive dynamics (2001), which explicated his theoretical behaviorism. In this review essay, I compare his theoretical behaviorism with embodied cognition, which also has a strong focus on behavior and also remains critical of mentalistic mechanisms for explaining it.

Making decisions does not suffice for minimal cognition [ pdf ]

(2003, Adaptive Behavior, 11(4) , 266-269)

A reaction to Randall Beer’s paper in the same issue. The problem addressed by Beer is to develop a dynamical model of minimally cognitive behavior. An often heard criticism is that the models used by him and others in this field do not really exhibit cognition, as they are too simple. As a remedy Beer focuses on decision making, a clearly cognitive task. My worry with Beer’s model is that it may not classify as minimally cognitive for another reason. From an embodied perspective perception-action provides the key feature for anything cognitive, and one may wonder whether this model does exemplify perception-action relations to a sufficient degree. The problem is that we hardly have any good criteria on this count, just intuitions. The paper picks up on a theme from Some armchair worries about wheeled behavior (1998), see also Principles of minimal cognition (submitted).

Self-steered self-organization [ pdf ]

(2003, in W. Tschacher & J-P. Dauwalder (Eds.). The dynamical systems approach to cognition (pp. 243-259). Singapore: World Scientific.)

Scot Kelso proposed in his book Dynamic patterns (1995) a two component account to differentiate between self-organization as a general physical phenomenon and self-organization in a mental or psychological context. The difference comes from adding a second component in the latter case, which he calls “intentional forcing.” In this paper, I stress the importance of this second component, but also argue that it is not intrinsically related to intentionality. Such internal forcing is much more basic and more likely a general feature of all biological systems.

Representation in dynamical and embodied cognition [ pdf ]

(2002, Cognitive Systems Research, 3, 275-288)

An overview paper, a short version of the view set out in Representation and Behavior.

Doing without representations which specify what to do [ pdf ]

(1998, Philosophical Psychology, 11, 269-302)

This paper is the source of the key chapter of Representation and behavior. The problem addressed is whether ongoing perception-action couplings are capable of dealing with, what Andy Clark calls, representation hungry problems. I argue that they do not and internal states are required. However, these internal states are not necessarily cast as representations. As an alternative I focus on the way how genes act as guiding factors in morphogenetic processes. Genes do not represent the outcome of these processes—body forms—but provide internal steering factors that guide ongoing short-term morphogenetic processes over longer timescales. The important implication is that one may acknowledge the existence of representation hungry problems without buying the implication that representations are required to solve them. For an alternative interpretation of the gene example, see Wheeler and Clark’s Genic representations: Reconciling content and causal complexity (1999, British Journal for the Philosophy of Science , 50 , 103-135)

Some armchair worries about wheeled behavior [ pdf ]

(1998, in R. Pfeifer, B. Blumberg, J-A. Meyer & S.W. Wilson (Eds.) From animals to animats 5 (pp. 13-21). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.)

This remains my own long-term favorite. It touches on a problem that I find both deep and difficult to articulate and provides the background of my main current interests. It verses a worry about animat research which aims to investigate real perception-action relations (either in simulations or robots) rather then merely internal information processing. The worry is that as sensorimotor systems, these models remain often very impoverished compared to biological agents. For example driving forward is much simpler than crawling, walking or looping forward. The worry is that in this idealization process important characteristics of biological agents are insufficiently represented in current animats.

The dynamics of what?

(1998, Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 21, 644-645.)

(With Sacha Bem, second author, and A.H.C. van der Heijden, third author, both from Leiden University)

A reaction to one of Tim van Gelder´s classic dynamical systems paper. We argue that a dynamical systems approach alone remains too abstract. It will remain necessary to develop an account of the physical processes involved.

Last modified:06 November 2012 01.43 a.m.

Contact information

Oude Boteringestraat 52
9712 GL Groningen
The Netherlands
Oude Boteringestraat 52
9712 GL Groningen
The Netherlands