Friday, November 16, 2012

Warren McCulloch and His Circle in Interdisciplinary Science Reviews

Every decade or so I have to write a history of science paper to keep up pretenses of being an historian and philosopher of science.  So, this issue includes my efforts.  Now I can rest until 2020.

There are some very interesting articles I'm personally very interested in reading.  They are available for free download here until December 16, 2012.

Thanks much to Tara Abraham for inviting me to participate in this special issue.

McCulloch's work on cybernetics should be of interest to embodied/extended folks because it presents a way of thinking about closed causal loops that does not make of them what many embodied/extended folks wish to make of them.  History provides some insight into alternative ways of thinking.  Not that that is the only use of history, but it is a use that non-historians might have.

Friday, November 9, 2012

$15,000 fellowships for MA in philosophy at Georgia State University

The Master's program of the Philosophy Department at Georgia State University in Atlanta, Georgia is accepting applications from qualified students for its two Neurophilosophy Fellowships, its Legal/Political Philosophy Scholarship, its German Philosophy Scholarship, and its Assistantships. All funding packages cover two years of full tuition.  Fellowships and scholarships provide $15,000/year, and Assistantships provide $5,000-$10,000/year. 

Initial application deadline: February 1, 2013.

The M.A. program at GSU is highly ranked by the Philosophical Gourmet Report, and it has had great success in placing its students in well-regarded Ph.D. programs. More information about the department and on application procedures can be found at

Thank you for your help in distributing this information.

Andrea Scarantino

Andrea Scarantino
Associate Professor
Department of Philosophy
Neuroscience Institute
Georgia State University

Monday, October 22, 2012

Music and the Embodied Mind

This sounds pretty cool.  Too bad I don't know anything about music.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Davis and Markman on Embodied Cognition

In TiCS here.

Update: See as well the other papers for which this is an intro.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Hass on the Muller-Lyer II

Further, the fact that I have to construct my fully determinate figure, implies the correctness of Merleau-Ponty's different, better interpretation of the Muller-Lyer illusion: that perceptual indeterminacy is ontologically basic, that things such as ambiguity, illusions, and mirages, are fundamental aspects of the perceptual synergy out ofwhich our so-called "objective" constructions are built."
Lawrence Hass. Merleau-Ponty's Philosophy (p. 38-9). Kindle Edition. 
So, here are three claims Hass makes above:
1) I have to construct the fully determinate figure.
2) Perceptual indeterminacy is ontologically basic.
3) Things such as ambiguity, illusions, and mirages are fundamental aspects of the perceptual synergy out of which our so-called "objective" constructions are built.

I  don't see how 1) implies 2) or 3).  Of course, there is the obvious missing premise one could supply, "If I have to construct the fully determinate figure, then perceptual indeterminacy is ontologically basic."  But, I don't see why this conditional is plausible.

I'm not even sure I understand 3).  It's at least plausible to me that ambiguity, illusions and mirages are fundamental aspects of the perceptual synergy.  But, I'm not quite getting the part about our so-called "objective" constructions being built out of what?  Ambiguities, illusions, mirages?  The perceptual synergy?

Loughlin reviews Rowlands' New Science of the Mind

Here in Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Hass on the Muller-Lyer

It is not unusual to see writers use this illusion to conclude that perception is a merely subjective event: "The two lines appear to be different lengths, when objectively they are the same; therefore, perception is subjective appearance, which hides objective reality." This reasoning is specious, common though it may be. Just because one can construct (with a ruler) some numerically determinate figure that we perceive indeterminately, does not entail the ontological claim that fundamental reality is a collection of fully determinate objects and perception a mere subjective appearance.
Lawrence Hass. Merleau-Ponty's Philosophy (pp. 37-38). Kindle Edition. 
Maybe some readers can help me with the foregoing passage.  So, I'm willing to entertain the view that this reasoning in the quotation is specious and that perception is not subjective appearance.

And, I agree that just because one can construct (with a ruler) some numerically determinate figure that we perceive indeterminately, does not entail the ontological claim that fundamental reality is a collection of fully determinate objects and that perception is a mere subjective appearance.

I also agree that just because one can construct (with a ruler) some numerically determinate figure that we perceive indeterminately, does not entail the ontological claim that fundamental reality is a collection of fully determinate objects.

But, I don't see how the view of perception is supposed to be linked to the theory of fundamental reality.  (I would have thought that all one needs is that appearance differs from reality. ) How is this supposed to work?  Honest question.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Farina's Review of Sterelny's The Evolved Apprentice

Pre-pub (?) version here.  The review will appear in Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Consciousness in Interaction

There are some extended/embodied sorts of things in this forthcoming volume.
  • Do sensory substitution devices extend the conscious mind?,  Julian Kiverstein and Mirko Farina  
  • The extended mind and the boundaries of perception and action, Nivedita Gangopadhyay  
  • Showtime at the Cartesian Theater? Vehicle externalism and dynamical explanations, Michael Madary  
  • Is the function of consciousness to act as an interface?, Bryony Pierce  
  • Es are good: Cognition as enacted, embodied, embedded, affective and extended, Dave Ward and Mog Stapleton

Maybe there are other 4E papers in here.  Apologies for any I have omitted.

Alas, nothing by me.....

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Julian Kiverstein's "The Meaning of Embodiment" in TiCS

E-text available here.

Extended Knowledge at Edinburgh

Duncan Pritchard had mentioned to me that they had received a large grant for this.  Now some details are available here.  Pretty impressive.  Congratulations to Duncan, Andy Clark, and Jesper Kallustrup!!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Kindle Edition of The Bounds of Cognition

Fred was keen to have an electronic version of the book back in 2008, but it did not seem profitable to the publisher at the time.  Now Amazon has itTimes are changing quickly.

Please engage in some impulse buying.  It's only $18.67!

(In another illustration of how bad I am at keeping up with the literature, I just found out about the Kindle edition myself.  Looking for some reference info on Amazon, I saw that Menary's collection, The Extended Mind, is also available in a Kindle edition, so I decided to check on Bounds.)

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Kaplan's "How to Demarcate the Boundaries of Cognition"

Info here.

Theodore's "Was Kekule's Mind Brainbound?"

Here is a paper I just happened across.  Extended cognition extending its reach outside the philosophy of mind/cognition/psychology.

A&M: "A&A seem to treat a case of (mere) causal interaction as a case of coupling."

Maybe it seems as though we treat coupling as just causation, but I'm not sure why.  The idea is to see, first of all, that causation is an insufficient basis for constitutive claims.  All apparently agree to this now.  Then, in two chapters of our book (chapters 6 & 7) we look at a variety of ways in which one can add further conditions on mere causation in hopes of establishing a constitutive connection.  What do folks think we are doing in those chapters, if not examining (and challenging) other interpretations of what coupling could be and whether such coupling establishes a constitutive connection?

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Smart's "Web-extended Mind"

The paper is available online here.

Functional fixedness fallacy

A&A’s mistake is to assume that the parts and wholes of cognitive systems are fixed by how they sometimes function. That is, they assume that because Haugeland himself sometimes  functions as a self-contained cognitive system, he must always function as such.  The case of the road to San Jose is designed as a counter-example to precisely that inference. A&A, therefore, are themselves guilty of a fallacy, that of assuming that because something sometimes  functions in a certain way, it must always  function in that way.

I don't think we assume this.  In fact, that assumption is inconsistent with our idea that extended cognition is possible.  So, in principle, you might give Otto some sort of ultra-fancy neural prosthetic (unlike the humble notebook) that really does function just like a brain region.  That could be a case of extended cognition.  

Instead, we assume that just because something causally contributes to successful performance does not suffice to establish it as a constitutive element of a cognitive process.  The sun contributes to one's reading a newspaper outside, but is not a cognitive processor, right?

Of course, A&M may have some other conditions that distinguish mere causation from constitution, but let's have those on the table.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Friday, July 6, 2012

Workshop: "Sensorimotor Representations and Concepts"

"In an attempt to further investigate issues related to the ‘grounding of cognition’, we are organizing a two-day workshop on ‘Sensorimotor Representations and Concepts’. The target of the workshop is to further motivate the debate on the relations between perception, action and cognition and investigate related issues.

The workshop is the first one organised by the ‘Grounded Cognition’ and ‘ThinkAct’ research projects currently running in Düsseldorf. Supported by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) and the VolkswagenStiftung, the above projects investigate the extent and the manner in which concepts are ‘grounded’ in basic sensorimotor representations, and the relation between thinking and motor control, respectively. Acquiring a clear understanding of the ways in which perception, action and cognition are related is crucial in order to further understand the ways in which the human mind operates. Our ambition is that the forthcoming workshop will be a significant step towards the intended direction. "
Friday 19th October 2012 and Saturday 20th October 2012 at Schloß Mickeln, Heinrich Heine Universität, Düsseldorf. 
Organisers: Gottfried Vosgerau, Alex Tillas, Tim Seuchter, Arne Weber

Sadly, while this is just a half-hour train ride away right now, by October it'll be out of reach.

Nicoletta Orlandi's "Embedded seeing-as: Multi-stable visual perception without interpretation"

This looks pretty interesting.

Maybe I need to look more closely at EcoPsych literature, but it seems to me that there is not that much that tries to explain the putatively difficult visual phenomena, rather than simply dismiss them as superficial.

Shannon Spaulding's "Overextended Cognition"

Here in Philosophical Psychology.

Tom Roberts' "Taking Responsibility for Cognitive Extension".

Here in Philosophical Psychology.

A&M on the structure of the master argument

Adams & Maher write,
 It is important to see that Haugeland’s and C&C’s arguments share a structure. They argue that the mind extends because there are external items (a road, a notebook) that are functionally equivalent to admitted parts of the mind (a map, a memory). And these external items are functionally equivalent to partsof the mind because the external items have the same high-bandwidth interactions that those parts of the mind have to other parts of the mind.
Now, I think that Haugeland's argument is actually much more ambiguous.  To my mind, there is a bit of operationalism in the San Jose case, wherein he implicitly assumes that any way of getting to San Jose is the performance of a cognitive task.  Then, there is the high-bandwidth (coupling argument) thing that does not require an inner-outer functional equivalence.  Then there is this talk of functional equivalence.

Now, however one takes Haugeland's argument, I think it will not ultimately work out.  In The Bounds of Cognition, we addressed each of the three ways of interpreting this argument.

And, I think that C&C also have an ambiguity about whether they want a functional equivalence argument or a coupling argument regarding Inga-Otto.  When there is a discussion of both Inga and Otto, there are often allusions to functional equivalence (which is why the story involves Inga and Otto).  But, the trust and glue coupling arguments do not really need to involve Inga.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Summer School "Aesthetics and the Embodied Mind" 26th - 30th August 2013 - HWK Delmenhorst (Germany)

More info here.

A&M's schema

So, A&M offer this as the master argument schema:

1. Y is part of a cognitive system Z.
2. X (an external item) has the same high-bandwidth interaction with other parts
of Z that Y has.
3. So, X is functionally equivalent to Y.
4. So, X is part of Z.
This seems to me not a correct reconstruction of what Haugeland is up to.  So, I take it that it is supposed to be the high bandwidth interface (HBI) between the brain (or what Haugeland calls "the internal guidance system") and the road that makes the road part of the cognitive system.  It's not that the brain and something else are both connected to the road by HBIs, so that the brain and this something else are functionally equivalent.  Here's a picture of the two different takes.

Here's the text from Haugeland (as best as I can get without my hard copy):

What is the Y in this passage?

And, you can ask of the Otto-notebook case, what is Otto's brain and the notebook both coupled to so that they are equivalent?  

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Haugeland's Argument

Haugeland, for instance, does not claim that since the road to San Jose is tightly coupled to him it becomes part of him. Rather, he claims that the he and the road together make up a coupled cognitive system.  Schematically, here is Haugeland’s actual claim:
X is coupled to Y.So, X and Y make up Z.
The idea is that when two things are tightly coupled, they constitute some third thing, of which they are both parts. A&A do not seem to recognize that.
I'm not sure that things are so simple as the when two things are tightly coupled, they constitute some third kind of thing.  Does a piece of chewing gum stuck to my shoe make some third kind of thing?  Does a cannon ball lodged in a castle wall make some third kind of thing?  (Bear in mind that for Haugeland an HBI is just interacts intensely, as do the parts of a camshaft.  So, just have a case where the two parts interact intensely, as gum stuck to a shoe.)

But, that aside, I think A&A are on to this idea of cognitive systems.  We talk about this in section 7.2, "Haugeland’s Theory of Systems and the Coupling of Components," in The Bounds of Cognition.  We draw a distinction between the hypothesis of extended cognitive systems and the hypothesis of extended cognition.  We are willing to accept that there can be cognitive systems that extend beyond the boundary of the brain and body, but we resist the idea that cognitive processes extend beyond the boundary of the brain and body.  How is this possible?  We think that a type of process can be used to label a type of system without having that process pervade the whole of the system.  Think of computing.  That is a type of process that enables one to speak of a computing system, but the computational process does not pervade the whole of the computing system.  So, we think that coupling might give you extended cognitive systems, but not extended cognitive processes.  

Monday, July 2, 2012

An interesting example from A&M

So, A&M invite consideration of a new case:

Focus on Haugeland’s trip to San Jose. In the actual case, his body is embedded, for it is tightly coupled with the road. To be embedded with something is to be coupled to it. It is possible, however, to imagine a counter-factual case in which he has an inner mental representation of the route to San Jose. Imagine, for instance, that Haugeland is able to find the way to San Jose by memorizing the number of steps and turns that he must take in order to get there from a certain starting point. In this imaginary case, his body would be unembedded, for although his body would be causally interacting  with the road, it would not be coupled  with it. Strictly speaking, in this imaginary case, the road does not play any cognitiverole whatsoever in Haugeland’s finding his way to San Jose.     Now, advocates of EMH take the actual case to be fundamentally different from the imaginary case. A&A, however, would see the cases as fundamentally similar. Because they conflate coupling with mere causal interaction, they would emphasize a superficial similarity between the embedded and unembedded cases: in both, Haugeland’s body causally interacts with the road. 
Now, I see that A&M want Haugeland's original case to count as coupling and extended cognition, but the new case not to count as coupling and extended cognition.  So, what exactly is the putative difference between mere causation and coupling?  A&M don't say.  Could it be that when X is a causally relevant factor that contributes to the success in some task, then X is coupled, hence part of the cognitive system?

But, by this account, we are coupled to the sun when we read outside or to oxygen when we solve math problems.  Rupert talks about the sun case in his book, and probably elsewhere.  So, the account of coupling on offer here seems to me to be of no help.

Second, this account seems to me not to distinguish between cognition and behavior.  It is behaviors that enable success in tasks, with cognitive processes only being (perhaps) among the causes of behavior.  If one takes all processes that contribute to the production of (successful) behavior to be cognitive, then that conglomerate will be extended.

Friday, June 29, 2012

A&M: Behavior vs Cognition

So, A&M write,
consider a case of multi-digit multiplication: ‘49885320 x 12534959 =  625310440901880’. When one uses a pencil, paper and a long-multiplication algorithm to compute the answer to that sum, writing plays a constitutive role in the process of figuring out the answer, since the position of the numerals that one writes on the paper are part  of how one arrives at the solution to the sum (p. 6).

So, indeed, using pencil and paper constitute part of the process of figuring out the answer.  But, figuring out the answer is a kind of performance or behavior.  It is a kind of performance that involves both cognitive and non-cognitive components.  There are the brainy cognitive processes, such as multiplying together the rightmost elements, and the non-brainy, non-cognitive processes, such as making marks on the paper.

For a couple of years now, I have been thinking that extended cognition is more appealing as the 20th Centenary cognition/behavior divide that, e.g. Skinner and Chomsky agreed to draw, has faded away.

I first talked about this breakdown with respect to Rob Rupert's book back in 2009, but I've also got it as part of the talk I gave at Groningen workshop on the need for a mark of the cognitive.  I'll also be talking about it again at the "Interfaces of the Mind" workshop in Bochum next month.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

What's to like in Adams and Maher, 2012

So, right off there are some things to like.

First, they embrace the causation/constitution distinction that has been invoked by advocates of EC.  That's a distinction that has been invoked by most advocates of EC, despite the fact that it does ultimately lead them to difficulties.

Second, A&M embrace the "mark of the cognitive" idea, championing (a version of?) Haugeland's MotC.
And, I think this second point is valuable, since my reading of Haugeland is that, at times, he opts for an objectionable form of operationalism, but at other times he opts for some other MotC.  A&M describe a non-operationalist MotC.  So, I think Haugeland's view is equivocal about what distinguishes the cognitive (or what is intelligent) from the non-cognitive.
Third, A&M also suggest a reading of Haugeland's San Jose example wherein functional equivalence comes into play.  I had not thought to read the text that way (although I don't think it ultimately changes  anything).

Fourth, they accept intentionality as (part of) the mark of the cognitive.

Fifth, they accept a distinction between derived and non-derived representation.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

C&C vs Haugeland on high-bandwidth connections

Adams and Maher read C&C and Haugeland as agreeing that high-bandwidth "connections" are not really interfaces.  They read the C&C "trust and glue" conditions as high-bandwidth conditions.  (cf. pp. 2-4.)

A) I don't think that that is a correct reading of C&C.

B) I don't think the trust and glue conditions are high-bandwidth conditions.

Regarding A), there is some place where Clark challenges Haugeland's idea that there cannot be a high-bandwidth interface.  Why, Clark asks, can there be no such thing?  I don't have my copy of Supersizing here with me in Germany, but I think it's in there.  (One could probably check the index of Supersizing for "Haugeland" and track it down.)

Regarding B), I think you can separate the trust and glue conditions through the example of trusting a coin toss in navigation.  (This is in my Philosophical Explorations paper, "Distinguishing Virtue Epistemology and Extended Cognition".)  Basically, you have Otto who trusts whatever the "lucky" coin tells him in order to navigate through NYC.  (Set up the story to fit the trust and glue conditions.)  But, a coin toss only carries, what, one bit of information?  Low-bandwidth.  So, you can trust and be glued to a low-bandwidth connection, it seems to me.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The C-C Fallacy

So, a real (attempt at) a philosophical post, for a change.

In the literature, there are a number of concessions that simply inferring constitution from causation is fallacious.  Here I have in mind Justin Fisher's review of Bounds, a comment in Andy Clark's Supersizing, and some passages from Rob Wilson's "Embodied Vision".  But, these concessions then suggest/claim that no one commits this simple fallacy.  (Fisher thinks some philosophers do, but that the more clever ones do not.)

I think that these concessions overlook the overall structure of the objections to coupling/constitution arguments.  So, all apparently agree that the simplest case is fallacious.  But, Adams and I do not leave matters at the simplest case.  We have two chapters of our book dedicated to grinding it out to the view that adding more conditions does not really change the problem.  The additional conditions that one might like to add to causation, e.g. trust and glue, do not bridge the gap to constitution.  The additional conditions, we argue, are essentially whistles and bells that do no deliver the constitutional goods.  So, the idea is that once one grasps the mechanics of the simple case, one ought (we think) to be able to see how the mechanics applies to more complex cases.

Now, maybe those two chapters don't cover all the cases and, we do not give a general argument that they do.  Nevertheless, it is also not the case that we only put forth the simple case.

This looks promising.

I have probably read Haugeland's "Mind Embodied and Embedded" eight times or more and I never would have gathered that he thinks responsibility is the mark of the cognitive.  But, I've not read the whole book.

From daaavve at Havingthought2012.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Stapleton's "Steps to a 'Properly Embodied' Cognitive Science"

Thanks to Leslie Marsh for the link to the article in Cognitive Systems Research.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Blog on Embodied Virtues and Expertise

Richard Menary has brought his work on an Australian Research Project to my attention.  This embodied cognition business seems to be moving along undeterred by powerful criticism! 

Lead Investigator Dr. Richard Menary, CI Dr. David Simpson, PI Prof. Shaun Gallagher, PI Prof. Daniel Hutto, CI Prof. Christopher Winch.
The main question that this project seeks to answer is: How do experts embody the knowledge and skills required for fluid and flexible skilled activity in real time? The proposed answer is a unique combination of embodied cognition and virtue epistemology which explains expertise in terms of embodied skills and reliable cognitive abilities, referred to in the literature as cognitive virtues.
More info here.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Thursday, March 22, 2012

SSPP Begins today

First time I have not been in probably more than a decade.  Sigh.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Thursday, March 8, 2012

CONFERENCE – Wittgenstein, Enactivism & Animal Minds

This looks pretty interesting.

Saturday 7- Sunday 8 July 2012 at the University of Hertfordshire, Hatfield.  The actual conference venue will be Beales Hotel, Hatfield (a 5-minute walk from UH).
Conference organizers: Danièle Moyal-Sharrock & Dan D. Hutto
Confirmed speakers:
Registration Fee (includes lunch & refreshments on both days): £75 / student: £50
Conference package: includes registration fee, lunch & refreshments on both days, conference dinner (3-course meal, including wine, tea/coffee), bed/breakfast at Beales Hotel (4*) on Saturday night (single occupancy): £190.00 / student £150.00.
For other options and to register, please go to BWS Conference Registration.

Visiting Position at Franklin and Marshall


Please pass this announcement on to anyone who might be interested in a visiting assistant professor position in Cognitive Science.  It is also worth noting that, although the position is officially in the Psychology Department, we are open to hiring someone with a PhD in Philosophy.

Feel free to ask me any questions.

cheers, tony

Title: Visiting Assistant Professor of Psychology

The Department of Psychology at Franklin & Marshall College is hiring a visitor at the Assistant Professor level to cover courses in Psychology and the Scientific and Philosophical Studies of Mind program. The appointment is for academic year 2012-2013, with possibility for a second year renewal upon administrative approval. Teaching load is 3/2. The candidate will be required to teach Introduction to Cognitive Science as well as a laboratory section of either Introductory Psychology or Design and Statistics. Further coverage needs may include the following areas: Introductory Psychology, History and Philosophy of Psychology, Cognitive Psychology, Philosophy of Natural Science, and Developmental Psychology.

Application deadline is March 19, 2012. Candidates should hold the Ph.D. and should submit a letter of application, curriculum vitae, graduate transcript, three letters of recommendation, a statement of teaching, a statement of research, and teaching evaluation forms electronically via In your letter of application, please indicate which of the above courses and/or related cognitive science courses you could help cover. Inquiries may be directed to Dr. Krista Casler (

Franklin and Marshall College is a highly selective liberal arts college with a demonstrated commitment to cultural pluralism. Franklin & Marshall College is committed to having an inclusive campus community where all members are treated with dignity and respect. As an Equal Opportunity Employer, the College does not discriminate in its hiring or employment practices on the basis of gender, race or ethnicity, color, national origin, religion, age, disability, family or marital status, or sexual orientation.

Tony Chemero,
Scientific and Philosophical Studies of Mind
Franklin and Marshall College
Lancaster, PA USA 17604-3003

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Philosophical Psychology: "Contingent transcranialism and deep functional cognitive integration"

A new article by Jennifer Greenwood forthcoming here.


Contingent transcranialists claim that the physical mechanisms of mind are not exclusively intracranial and that genuine cognitive systems can extend into cognizers' physical and socio-cultural environments. They further claim that extended cognitive systems must include the deep functional integration of external environmental resources with internal neural resources. They have found it difficult, however, to explicate the precise nature of such deep functional integration and provide compelling examples of it. Contingent intracranialists deny that extracranial resources can be components of genuine extended cognitive systems. They claim that transcranialists fallaciously conflate coupling with constitution and construe cognition as extending always from brains into world rather than world into brains. By using insights from recent research in developmental psychology and by explicating the nature of one form that deep functional integration can take, I argue that (i) transcranialists do not fallaciously conflate coupling wth constitution, and (ii) human emotional ontogenesis is a world-to-brain transcranial achievement.

I don't have the article yet, but I'm going to speculate that by "contingent intracranialists" Greenwood includes Adams and Aizawa.  But, if so, we do not deny that extracranial resources can be components of genuine extended cognitive systems.  We think that extracranial resources can be component of genuine extended cognitive systems, it's just that they are not.  Here is the abstract to Adams and Aizawa, 2001:
Recent work in cognitive science has suggested that there are actual cases in which cognitive processes extend in the physical world beyond the bounds of the brain and the body. We argue that, while transcranial cognition may be both a logical and a nomological possibility, no case has been made for its current existence. In other words, we defend a form of contingent intracranialism
about the cognitive.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Implications of Embodiment: Heidelberg University

Info here.

Open Positions at Ruhr University Bochum

I'm going to spend a couple of months at RUB this summer, along with (at overlapping times) Colin Allen, Cameron Buckner, and Nivedita Gangopadhyay, among others.  I'm very much looking forward to it, so perhaps others would be interested as well.

Info here.

Sprevak at the State University of Milan

Department of Philosophy, State University of Milan

How does the situated cognition program justify the extended mind?

Mark Sprevak (University of Edinburgh)

Thursday, 8th March 2012
4.30pm - 6.30pm
Room 435

More info:

Monday, February 27, 2012

EC over at "The Frailest Thing"


Ulatowski's Review of Menary's Extended Mind

Here at Metapsychology.

Thanks to Leslie Marsh for bringing my attention to it.  We seem to be fishing up many of the same things these days.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Noe's Varieties of Presence

So, I got my advanced order copy from Amazon yesterday.  I only read a very few pages, but it does have a different "feel" than his other two books.  I'm hoping I'll get to do a reading group on the book this summer with folks at the Ruhr University, Bochum, but we shall see.

Maybe I'll have a few posts on this as well.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

EC over at The Post-Cognitivist Blog (University College, Dublin)


But, in theory, there could be extended cognitivist cognition.  It's just as a matter of contingent empirical fact, there appears not to be any.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Andrew and Sabrina Interviewed for Psychology Today Blog

The discussion.

"Many researchers treat embodied cognition as the idea that the contents of these mental states/representations can be influenced by the states of our bodies."

Does anyone but Leibniz think that the contents of mental states/representations cannot be influenced by the states of our bodies?

Monday, February 13, 2012

Andy Clark at Washington and Lee Univeristy

So, this is kind of cool.  The senior philosophy majors at W&L will get a talk from Andy after having read some of his stuff.  W&L is in the same academic consortium as my institution, Centenary, only they are in the rich end of the consortium, where we are in the poor end.

The Technologically Enhanced Memory

Extended Cognition in Slate.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Mark of the Living?

Looking over paper titles, it looks as though many of the positions one finds regarding the putative mark of the cognitive are hashed out as well in the context of questions about what is alive.  See this special issue of Synthese.

Friday, February 3, 2012

"The Mark of the Cognitive" Workshop

Fred Keijzer and Catarina Dutilh Novaes are organizing the following:
DATE: May 11th 2012, 9.30 to 18.00
PLACE: Faculty of Philosophy, University of Groningen
ATTENDANCE: All welcome, but please send a message to cdutilhnovaes   at    yahoo dot com if you intend to come.

In recent discussions on the notion of embodied/extended cognition and the extended mind hypothesis, the idea of a ‘mark of the cognitive’ has received quite some attention. Both among the proponents and among the critics of Extended Mind, many authors agree that the project of formulating a principled demarcation for what is to count as cognitive is imperative, not only with respect to this specific debate but more generally as a fundamental question for the philosophy of cognitive science. A few dissident voices, however, have considered the possibility of this question being neither crucial nor answerable, for example by relying on anti-essentialist conceptions of cognition.
Against this background, the Faculty of Philosophy of the University of Groningen is hosting a one-day workshop to discuss the very idea of the mark of the cognitive, in particular but not exclusively with respect to the concept of embodied/extended cognition. How should the question be formulated? Is it a matter of stipulating a definition, or are we after a substantive theory of what cognition is? Is 'the cognitive' a natural kind? How important is it to delineate a mark of the cognitive for different projects in philosophy of mind and cognitive science? These and other questions will be addressed during the talks and discussions at the workshop.
Kenneth Aizawa (Centenary College): Operationalism gives the Mark of the Cognitive?
Julian Kiverstein (University of Amsterdam): Intentionality as the mark of the cognitive?
Fred Keijzer (University of Groningen): The need for a mark of something that we should call cognition
Catarina Dutilh Novaes (University of Groningen): Second-wave Extended Mind does not need a mark of the cognitive

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

CfP: Distributed cognition and memory research: How do distributed memory systems work?

I wish I had time to write for this ...

Special issue of the Review of Philosophy and Psychology

Guest editors: Kourken Michaelian and John Sutton

Call for Papers

Deadline for submissions: July 15, 2012

According to the extended mind hypothesis in philosophy of cognitive
science and the related distributed cognition hypothesis in cognitive
anthropology, remembering does not always occur entirely inside the
brain, but can also be distributed across heterogeneous systems
combining neural, bodily, social, and technological resources. Much of
the critical debate on these ideas in philosophy has so far remained
at some distance from relevant empirical studies. But claims about
extended mind and distributed cognition, if they are to deserve wider
acceptance, must both make sense of and, in turn, inform work in the
cognitive and social sciences. Is the notion of extended or
distributed remembering consistent with the findings of empirical
memory research? Can such a view of memory usefully inform empirical
work, suggesting further areas of productive enquiry or helping to
make sense of existing findings?

This special issue will bring together supporters and critics of
extended and distributed cognition, to consider memory as a test case
for evaluating and further developing these hypotheses. Submitted
papers should thus address both memory and distributed cognition/
extended mind: ideally, papers should aim simultaneously to make
contributions to relevant debates in both philosophy and psychology or
other relevant empirical fields. While primarily theoretical papers
are welcome, they should make direct contact with empirical findings.
Similarly, while empirically-oriented papers might draw on evidence
from a range of areas, including the cognitive psychology of
transactive memory and collaborative recall, cognitive anthropology
and cognitive ethnography, science studies and the philosophy of
science, the history of memory practices, and the cognitive
archaeology of material culture, they should seek to advance the
theoretical debate over extended mind and distributed cognition,
rather than simply presenting findings from these fields.

Potential topics include (but are not limited to):

Relations between biological memory and external memory
How do forms of representation and storage in neural and external
memory differ, and why do such differences matter? Can theories of
distributed cognition deal with the existence of multiple memory
systems? For example, does the expert deployment of exograms in
certain external symbol systems affect working memory? How might the
development and operation of distributed memory systems affect neural
memory processes? Is evidence for neuroplasticity relevant for
assessing claims about distributed remembering? Given plausible links
between memory and self, what might distributed memory systems imply
about identity and agency? What happens when distributed memory
systems fail or break down?

How do distributed memory systems work?

What is socially distributed remembering, and does it offer any
support to revived ideas about group cognition, or to a naturalized
understanding of collective memory? Can theories of extended or
distributed cognition encompass socially distributed remembering in
addition to artifacts and other forms of memory scaffolding? What are
the implications of experimental studies of collaborative recall and
transactive memory for theories of distributed cognition? How do such
theories deal with memory practices and rituals, and with the roles of
the non-symbolic material environment?

Distributed memory and embodied cognition
How central in theories of extended or distributed memory should be
the study of skill acquisition and of expertise in the deployment of
external resources? What accounts of embodied skills, procedural
memory, and smooth or absorbed coping are required to support such
theories? How do distributed memory systems work in specific contexts
of embodied interaction, from conversation to music, dance,
performance, and sport?

Guest authors
The issue will include invited articles authored by:

Robert Rupert, University of Colorado (Boulder)
Deborah Tollefsen, University of Memphis, and Rick Dale, University of California  (Merced)
Mike Wheeler, University of Stirling

Important dates
Submission deadline: July 15, 2012
Target publication date: December 15, 2012

How to submit
Prospective authors should register at:
to obtain a login and select Distributed cognition and memory research
as an article type. Manuscripts should be approximately 6,000 words.
Submissions should follow the author guidelines available on the
journal's website.

About the journal
The Review of Philosophy and Psychology (ISSN: 1878-5158; eISSN:
1878-5166) is a peer-reviewed journal published quarterly by Springer
and focusing on philosophical and foundational issues in cognitive
science. The aim of the journal is to provide a forum for discussion
on topics of mutual interest to philosophers and psychologists and to
foster interdisciplinary research at the crossroads of philosophy and
the sciences of the mind, including the neural, behavioural and social
sciences. The journal publishes theoretical works grounded in
empirical research as well as empirical articles on issues of
philosophical relevance. It includes thematic issues featuring invited
contributions from leading authors together with articles answering a
call for paper.

For any queries, please email the guest editors:,

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Collective Memory Project

More info here.  Workshop info as well.
Gallese and Sinigaglia reply to DeBruin and Gallagher in Trends in Cognitive Science.

I linked to the DeBruin and Gallager piece earlier.

Thursday, January 26, 2012


If you have undergraduate students looking for an interesting study abroad experience that will keep them on track in their philosophy, psychology, computer science, or cognitive science major, please point them towards the Budapest Semester in Cognitive Science (

It is a really good program, and has had regular participation from scholars doing interesting research in cognitive science and the philosophy of mind, such as Colin Allen, John Bickle, Ron Chrisley, Carl Craver, Peter Erdi, and George Kampis.

The official program announcement is below.  If you or your students have any questions about the program, please contact me ( or the program office at

Tony Chemero
US Director of BSCS

The BUDAPEST SEMESTER IN COGNITIVE SCIENCE (BSCS, website:, our Hungarian study abroad program that may be of interest to undergraduate students in Cognitive Science and other disciplines.

BSCS, established in 2003 focuses on cognitive science from an interdisciplinary perspective and offers credit-earning courses in neuroscience, psychology, philosophy, linguistics, biology, and computer science; as well as continuous and optional intensive Hungarian language courses. The program is complemented by an optional independent research module tailored to students' curricula and research interests.

BSCS is hosted by the Department of History and Philosophy of Science at Eotvos Lorand University (ELTE), Hungary's premium science university established in 1635 and serving as a centre of excellence for modern higher education. A world-class new campus has been added to the premises of ELTE, built on the scenic banks of the Danube and hosting the Faculties of Natural and Social Sciences and Informatics, where BSCS courses are held.

Budapest provides an excellent and highly inspiring setting and our vibrant metropolis is a hub of a wide range of interdisciplinary studies and research; boasting a bustling Central European experience with a growing English-speaking academic community. Furthermore, the city serves as a gateway to Vienna, Prague and other major attractions of the region.

The application deadline for the Fall 2012 semester is April 15.

Visit our website for more detailed information (  Email inquiries to, or to Tony Chemero, US Director,

Friday, January 20, 2012

Rob Rupert to visit CMU

No, that that CMU.  Not Glymour's CMU.  Instead, the CMU of Central Michigan University, my former faculty digs.

Details here.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Systematicity and Cognitive Architecture

Edited by Paco Calvo and John Symons.  Look for this collection of essays from MIT Press in 2013!  A table of contents will be available soon.

Monday, January 9, 2012

EC is spreading

A mental health and extended cognition blog.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Congrats to Shaun Gallagher, et al.

"Faculty from the philosophy department, the Institute for Simulation and Training, and the College of Medicine have received a $300,000 grant from the John Templeton Foundation to research the relationship between space travel and spiritual experiences."

More details here.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Embodied simulation, an unproductive explanation: Comment on Gallese and Sinigaglia

by Leon de Bruin and Shaun Gallagher.

Here at TICS.

Leon is (or at least was) at Ruhr University, Bochum, where I will be visiting this summer.  I met him there a few years back and ran into him again last summer.  Since we both have some interest in mirror neurons, this should make for a more productive summer for me.