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Unlimited plasticity of embodied, cognitive subjects: a new playground for the UAL framework

Authors
  • Levin, Michael1, 2
  • 1 Tufts University, Medford, MA, USA , Medford (United States)
  • 2 Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering At Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, USA , Cambridge (United States)
Type
Published Article
Journal
Biology & Philosophy
Publisher
Springer Netherlands
Publication Date
Mar 16, 2021
Volume
36
Issue
2
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1007/s10539-021-09792-4
Source
Springer Nature
Keywords
License
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Abstract

Birch, Ginsburg, and Jablonka lay out a very convincing case for an important transition marker: unlimited associative learning (UAL). Especially welcome are the empirical predictions. I focus here not on the question of how to infer phenomenal consciousness from this behavioral metric, but on possible novel applications of this useful and fundamental framework. Specifically, I highlight two aspects of biology that are often not considered in philosophy of mind approaches that focus on natural species and evolutionary time scales. These are (1) the ability of minds and bodies to change drastically on the time scale of an individual experiencing subject, and (2) bioengineering of novel living forms with no evolutionary history at the organism level. Both of these aspects provide interesting new contexts within which to explore UAL and its implications.

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