[Comp-neuro] Call for Papers, Computational Approaches to Constructivism

Bernd Porr mail at berndporr.me.uk
Fri Jan 11 17:39:26 CET 2013

Call for Papers
Computational Approaches to Constructivism
Special Issue of Constructivist Foundations
to be published November 2013

Much of the work being done in constructivist approaches progresses 
conceptually. As in general philosophy, claims and arguments appeal to 
the intuition of the reader or listener. Such contemplative work is 
certainly a powerful and typical human instrument for acquiring new 
knowledge, or at least guiding us in unknown areas. However, as Daniel 
Dennett liked to quote from Bo Dahlbom and Lars-Erik Janlert, “Just as 
you cannot do very much carpentry with your bare hands, there is not
much thinking you can do with your bare brain.” There are reasons to 
assume that much more progress could be made by complementing the bare 
brain with computational tools to explore “the properties of 
mathematical models where analytic methods are unavailable” (Paul 
Humphrey). Computational methods have not only been applied in the 
context of general philosophy and philosophy of science (e.g., by Paul 
Thagard) but also in constructivist approaches such as Francisco Varela
et al.’s computational autopoiesis from the 1970s. Still, most articles 
related to constructivist approaches seem to favor the conceptual rather 
than the synthetic approach. Therefore, the goal of the
special issue is to set “computational constructivism” in motion. It 
welcomes papers presenting:

1. Actual computational models of constructivist concepts and processes 
(such as sensorimotor constructions, systems inspired by second-order 
cybernetic processes, autopoietic systems, etc.), and
results from conducting experiments with them. For example, Ernst von 
Glasersfeld’s “[The world] is a black box with which we can deal 
remarkably well” could be put to computational scrutiny: What sort of 
computation should we assume takes place in the cognizing subject that 
gives rise to her reality construction based on her experiences? Papers 
in this category may also review various computational methodologies and 
simulation architectures relevant for constructivist approaches.

2. (Meta) (critical) assessments of the philosophical and conceptual 
significance of computational tools. These may aim at questions such as: 
Can we, in principle, formulate computational models of constructivist 
processes? Are computer models useful heuristics for stimulating an 
individual’s construction of reality? Can we computationally predict 
reality construction? Is computational autopoiesis possible? Must 
enactive approaches be considered anti-computational in content?

The answer to these and related questions may require addressing more 
general problems such as:
How to define “computational”? Can computational models ever create 
something new? The answers may also help to shed light on whether 
appeals to the reader’s intuition may no longer be regarded a universal 
tool of conceptual investigation because they do not scale up to complex 
contexts, and whether highly complex computational models need to be 
used instead.

Time Table
31 January 2013:    Expressions of interest
1 June 2013:        Paper submissions
1 September 2013:    Revised papers
15 November 2013:    Publication

Please see also the call attached.

/Bernd Porr
bernd.porr at glasgow.ac.uk
+44 (0)7840 340069

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