This is the first of two invite-only workshops on the topic of ‘Extended Knowledge’. The aim is to provide, for the very first time, a topography of the relevant philosophical terrain with regard to the possible ways in which we could conceive of knowledge as extended. This topography will provide the essential groundwork for the more specific research questions to be tackled in the future (for more info on the research objectives of the ‘Extended Knowledge’ Project, click here).
The invited speakers for this first workshop on ‘Extended Knowledge’ are: Prof. Declan Smithies (Ohio), Dr. Cathal O’Madagain (Dublin), Prof. Peter J. Graham (California, Riverside), Prof. Robert K. Logan (Toronto), Prof. Deborah Tollefsen (Memphis).
- Richard Stöckle-Schobel: Social Externalism in Concept Learning
Abstract: I want to propose that conventional theories of concept learning overlook an important aspect of cognitive development – the social framework in which a large chunk of it happens. Specifically, I will show that work in social cognition supports learning mechanisms, which are not covered by models that take perceptual categorisation as the paradigm for learning. I will use a Sellarsian social externalist framework and I will argue that a Sellarsian view implies that large parts of mindful activity are inherently social. This means that the contents and categories of concepts are established by a language community and shared in the ‘logical space of reasons’. To finish, I will show that a social externalist view like Sellars’s might be necessary to underpin an explanation of learning in terms of the results from social cognition research.
- Declan Smithies (tbc)
- Cathal O’Madagain (tbc)
- Peter Graham: The Reliability of Testimony and Social Norms
Abstract: Abstract: Testimonial warrant depends on the reliability of testimony, and so the information processing and transmitting capacities of other people. What explains why the communication channel reliably transmits accurate information? What causal structure underlies and explains its effectiveness? I explain how pro-social, cooperative social norms of informative truth-telling causally underwrite the reliability of testimony.
- Kevin Ryan: Social Externalism in Concept Learning
Abstract: The contemporary approaches to cognition as an embedded, embodied, extended, and enactive phenomenon have led to several integral debates about content and vehicle externalism at the core of philosophy of mind and cognitive science. While generally presented together under the banner of “4E cognition”, recent exchanges between theoreticians point to both continued convergence as well as growing points of disagreement in the future. The purpose of this paper is to examine one particular debate between defenders of extended and enactive approaches regarding the standing of “extended functionalism” vis-a-vis the extended mind hypothesis. My purpose in this paper is two-fold. First, I shall introduce several background presuppositions in both the extended and life/mind enactive camps to clarify the stakes in the debate about extended functionalism. Second, I shall offer a rejoinder to several enactivist critiques of extended functionalism. While work remains to be done on clarifying the role of extended functionalism in an externalist account of cognitive processes, I suggest that it remains a useful, and perhaps necessary, part of the externalist story.
- Timothy Kunke: Extra-Personal Mental States
Abstract: Externalist approaches to mental content have already succeeded in blurring the line between the “internal” and the “external”. Standard content externalism says that the individualistic properties of the subject are not always sufficient to determine the content of certain concepts or de dicto attitudes. Recent authors, such as Timothy Williamson have argued for an even more radical externalism by claiming that factive attitudes (e.g. seeing that P) cannot be factored into internal and external components. They are prime conditions (i.e. non-compositional). For Williamson, there is no non-factive mental core to such attitudes rather factive attitudes are sui generis mental states that necessarily involve the environment. Given Williamson’s account, it could be argued that if having a factive attitude to a proposition is a mental state (as Williamson suggests), then some mental states are not necessarily states strictly of the individual subject, but of a subject-environment-compound. In this paper I will pose the following question and suggest a possible answer: How should we understand multiple subject knowledge attributions like ‘They know that P’ or ‘We know that P’ in light of Williamson’s externalist account of factive attitudes? I will sketch two cases that I call “the classroom case” and “the executive assistant case” that indicate the possibility of collective, or extra-personal mental states.
- Deborah Tollefsen: The Role of the Spokesperson in Group Testimony
Abstract: We learn things from groups. Consider the knowledge we receive from research teams, subcommittees, and expert panels. How are we to understand the testimonial relation involved in these sorts of cases? Are we learning from a particular individual within the group or is the group, itself, the source of testimony? In “Group Testimony” (2007) and elsewhere (2009, 2011) I argue that groups are sometimes the source of testimony. In this paper, I further develop this line of reasoning by focusing on the role of the spokesperson in cases of group testimony.
- Robert Logan: McLuhan Extended and the Extended Mind Thesis
Abstract: We develop complementary connections between McLuhan’s media ecology notion of media as ‘extensions of man’ and the Extended Mind Thesis of Andy Clark.
Please note that the workshop (including lunches and a hot dinner buffet) is free and everyone is welcome to attend. All attendees, however, should register in advance by visiting the following address:
The closing date for registrations is on June 1 2013.
For more information on the Extended Knowledge Project as well as on the second workshop on ‘Extended Knowledge’ you can visit the project’s website at http://www.extended-knowledge.ppls.ed.ac.uk/
The Extended Knowledge Project is a major three-year programme of research at the University of Edinburgh. It will for the first time offer a systematic exploration of the various different ways of ‘externalising’ knowledge, one which draws on cutting-edge research in epistemology and the philosophy of mind and cognition. It will then build on this systematic exploration to offer a new perspective on two particularly significant ways in which knowledge could be thought to be ‘extended’–viz., the extended cognition and distributed cognition research programmes as they apply to knowledge. In both cases the result is a form of extended knowledge, where what is unique to the latter is that the extension in question is distinctively social. The project will help establish an international network of around fifty researchers, including both established and early career. It will also draw on the unique research strengths in the University of Edinburgh, not only within Philosophy in the areas of epistemology and philosophy of mind and cognitive science, but also within the School of Philosophy, Psychology & Language Sciences and the neighbouring School of Informatics in the area of cognitive science.
To find out more about the project, its research outputs, relevant events and bibliography, and post your own comments on the blog, you can now visit the Extended Knowledge Project Website.
The project is hosted by the Eidyn research centre.
I’m a post-doc in the Philosophy of Neuroscience group in the Centre for Integrative Neuroscience, University of Tuebingen. My general approach is to use frameworks from philosophy of science to address questions more commonly answered from the perspective of philosophy mind.
One of my interests is in how features of scientific practice affect the kind of scientific concepts we can use—in my PhD thesis I questioned whether ‘consciousness’ can be a viable scientific concept on (scientific) methodological grounds. I’m now using investigations of scientific practice within decision-making research to think about philosophical questions concerning levels, explanation, and even the aims, of at least some parts of cognitive science.
You can find more details on my research, my new book (‘Consciousness as a Scientific Concept’), as well as on interdisciplinary workshops I’m involved with, on my website.
I am a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Tilburg Center for Logic and Philosophy of Science.
Questions that currently excite me concern the foundations of computational cognitive neuroscience, philosophy of science and moral psychology.
Specifically, at the moment I am curious about the nature and scope of the Bayesian approach to understanding cognition, behaviour and brain function. As the Bayesian approach promises to afford an unprecedented explanatorily unification to cognitive and brain sciences, these are exciting time for those of us interested in scientific explanation, the foundations of cognition and the prospects of a unified science of how the brain works.
I am also involved in a number of collaborative experimental projects in an attempt to understand the impact of moral considerations on explanatory reasoning and the empirical adequacy of specific normative conditions for a probabilistic account of explanatory power. Such types of projects will be of significance not only to philosophical accounts of explanation and psychological theories of explanatory reasoning, but they will also bear on the role values and bias in science.
You can read more about my work on my website.
We are adding a new feature to the Mind Net website.
We are encouraging close-to-finishing PhD students and young postdocs to submit ‘Introducing…’ posts.
The idea is to post a very brief (150 word) summary of your research and why it is exciting. You can then post a link for those who would like to read more.
These posts will let everyone in the community know who is up and coming, and what are the hot topics. As well as giving a leg up to young researchers on the job market and seminar circuit!
If you’d like to see an example of such a post, Spyros-Orestis Palermos has started us off.
Extending Cognition in Epistemology: Towards an Individualistic Social Epistemology.
I am an Edinburgh student about to complete my PhD thesis on the intersection of philosophy of mind and epistemology.
The topic of my thesis is the unsettling gap between mainstream individualistic epistemology and social epistemology. Conceiving of knowledge as a cognitive phenomenon, mainstream epistemologists tend to focus on the individual as the proper epistemic subject. Yet, clearly, knowledge-acquisition often appears to be a social process—and sometimes, to such an extent that it has been argued there might be knowledge that is not possessed by any individual alone. I, therefore, consider whether there is a way to make sense of these apparently contradictory claims, and to shed light on this issue, I elaborate on recent work in philosophy of mind, and, in particular, on some of the arguments surrounding the hypotheses of extended and distributed cognition.
My main claim is that knowledge—as conceived by virtue epistemology as creditable true believing that is the product of cognitive ability—is not always attributable just to individuals. Instead, in certain cases, knowledge should be creditable both to the individual and the society that brought his/her epistemic artifacts about, or even to a group of individuals as a whole.
If you would like to read more about my project, you can access my papers, and a more detailed thesis abstract online at http://edinburgh.academia.edu/SpyridonOrestisPalermos
My name is Bos, and I am a PhD student at the Jagiellonian University (Krakow, Poland). Recently, I’ve been trying to write something on the notion of fluid intelligence (Gf). I’ve managed to get hold of the latest publications on the topic, but I now feel I could also benefit from reading some of the ‘classical’ papers which I can’t access. I thought perhaps someone here might be able to help me.
The papers that would be really useful are:
1) Horn, J. L. & Cattell, R. B. (1966). “Refinement and test of the theory of fluid and crystallized intelligence.” Journal of Educational Psychology, 57(5), 253-270
2) Miles R. T. (1957) “On Defining Intelligence.” British Journal of Educational Psychology, 27, 153-165
My e-mail address is b [dot] czarnecki [at] gmail [dot] com. Many thanks in advance.
Hi Folks, the following question came up in teaching recently, and I was wondering if anyone can help.
As is well known, Chalmers claims that experience does not logically supervene on functional organisation (the zombie argument). He also claims that experience does supervene, nomologically, on functional organisation (the dancing qualia argument). In other words, if the natural laws (including the dualist’s psychophysical laws) are kept fixed, then experience supervenes on functional organisation.
Here is the central motivation for this nomological supervenience claim:
It is a central fact about experience, very familiar from our own case, that whenever experiences change significantly and we are paying attention, we can notice the change; if this were not to be the case, we would be led to the skeptical possibility that our experiences are dancing before our eyes all the time. This hypothesis has the same status as the possibility that the world was created five minutes ago: perhaps it is logically coherent, but it is not plausible. Given the extremely plausible assumption that changes in experience correspond to changes in processing, we are led to the conclusion that the original hypothesis is impossible, and that any two functionally isomorphic systems must have the same sort of experiences. To put it in technical terms, the philosophical hypotheses of “absent qualia” and “inverted qualia”, while logically possible, are empirically and nomologically impossible. (from “Facing up the problem of consciousness”)
The idea being that if experience were not to (nomologically) supervene on functional organisation, we would be faced with a sceptical threat: our experience could change all the time, and we would not notice it (in the information-processing, reporting, sense of noticing).
But if this sceptical concern moves you, then why doesn’t it also undermine the zombie argument?
For all we know, the psychophysical laws could be changing all the time. They could be changing so as to make the (logically possible) zombie world the actual world, or a (logically possible) world in which our experience is inverted the actual world. As far as the information-processing aspects of our life is concerned, we would not notice the difference. By hypothesis, the functional (information-processing, reporting, etc.) properties of our mental life would be the same in both scenarios. Aren’t we faced here with the same kind of sceptical threat about knowledge of our experience?
If one wants to use the sceptical threat to motivate supervenience of experience on functional organisation in the nomological case, why doesn’t this have equal force in the logical (zombie) case too? Alternatively, if one discounts this sceptical threat as carrying any weight in the zombie case, then why does it have force in the nomological case?
I remember Chalmers talks about knowledge of experience in the ‘Paradox of phenomenal judgement’. But I seem to remember that the upshot was that knowledge of experience should not be understood on the model of a causal theory of knowledge. But if that is the case, and for example we have some sort of direct knowledge of experience, wouldn’t this undermine the sceptical threat in the dancing qualia argument?
Any help gratefully received.
Thanks for opening up the blog! Let me introduce myself first. I am a lecturer in philosophy at Linköping university, sharing my time almost fifty-fifty between philosophy and cogsci. Apart from the phil of mind, my interests are mainly in philosophy of language and logic, plus some epistemology. A typical Lemming.
I am currently interested in the notion of mental representations, and especially in the context of two slightly different debates in cognitive science/philosophy of mind. The first is the two visual systems view of visual cognition, the second is the debate about extended cognition. These two areas show that the more usual notion of mental representation have to be revised in some manner, but it’s not really clear how. What I mean is the following.
When developing the two visual systems hypothesis, Milner and Goodale came to postulate two systems for storing and handling visual information, with different neural pathways. We have vision for perception and vision for action. In most normal cases, these systems work pretty well together (if not, such disparities would have been fixed by evolution a long time ago). But they can come apart at times, such as in the Ebbinghaus illusion, where subjects often judge that the circles are of unequal size, yet when asked to grasp the objects, size their grasping motion correctly. The perceptual judgement of inequal sizes doesn’t carry over into the grasping motion. One way (not necessarily the best) to describe what is going on is that the subject harbours two representations of an object in tandem, and that one or the other comes to be utilized, depending somehwat on circumstances (is the subject judging the relative sizes of two objects, or is the subject grasping an object, for instance).
Another kind of case, where we have a similar phenomenon, is when looking at cases of decision-making, where System 1 and System 2 (Kahneman and others) give different verdicts. Our gut thinking tells us this, the reflective processes tell us that. This might again be described by saying that the deciding subject has two representations in tandem, and that one or the other comes to be utilized. Again, this is not necessarily the best characterization of what is going on.
One problem with the explanations that appeal to two different representations, running in tandem, is that this appears to erode the usefulness of appeals to representations. They now come out as too ex post facto to do much useful work. It seems that we in cases of the above kind just find ourselves saying that the subject must have had a certain kind of representation, since the subject did this or that, and that we will always be in a position to say that there was a certain representation of a certain kind. But this is surely much too easy. So I would be interested in knowing if there have been discussions of this problem in the literature.
There is the recent anthology:
Perception, action, and consciousness : sensorimotor dynamics and two visual systems / edited by Nivedita Gangopadhyay, Michael Madary, Finn Spicer. Oxford : Oxford University Press, 2010.
which contains some useful papers, but apart from that I haven’t seen very much.
We’ve opened up the Mind Network blog to posts about current research!
Please do feel free to register (if you haven’t done so already), so that you can post about your research, or comment on the posts of others.
You can post about new thoughts on problems in philosophy of mind/cognitive science, sneak previews of your work that is in draft form, or in press, or requests for help on research questions or literature.
PhD students are particularly encouraged to post.
Steve Butterfill has started us off!