How to argue for group cognition: A guide for naturalists
Theiner (Georg)
Source: New Waves in Philosophy of Mind, Online Conference, 3rd-17th December 2012
Paper - Abstract

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Author’s Abstract

    A growing body of work in certain areas of cognitive science and related social sciences promises to resuscitate the “emergentist” idea that a group as a whole can have cognitive properties over and above those had by its members. For the naturalistically inclined philosopher of mind, there are good reasons to take close note of this development. First, if group processes can sometimes be profitably analyzed in terms of information-processing capacities such as memory or problem-solving typical of individual cognition, this might constitute new evidence for the multiple realizability of at least certain cognitive kinds. Second, thinking about group cognition provides a fertile test-bed for thinking about the compatibility of different levels of cognitive explanation. In this paper, I draw on two relevantly related theoretical perspectives to defend the intelligibility of group cognition against several recent objections: first, the treatment of multi-level selection in evolutionary biology; and second, the treatment of multi-level mechanistic explanations in contemporary philosophy of science.

  1. What kinds of minds can groups have?
  2. Singular cognition, hive cognition, collective cognition, and socially distributed cognition
  3. Socially distributed cognition and the “entwinement” thesis
  4. The emergence of socially distributed cognition
  5. Final thoughts


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