How Otto did not extend his mind, but might have: Dynamic systems theory and social-cultural group selection

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Cognitive Systems Research, ISSN: 1389-0417, Vol: 45, Page: 124-144

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William A. Rottschaefer
Elsevier BV
Psychology; Neuroscience; Computer Science
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Proponents of cognitive Situationism argue that the human mind is embodied, embedded in both natural and social-cultural environments and extended creating both extended and distributed cognition. Anti-situationists reject all or some of these claims. I argue that four major objections to extended cognition: (1) the mark of the cognitive, (2) the function-identity fallacy, (3) cognitive bloat, and (4) scientific irrelevance lose much of their sting in the case of distributed cognition, the extension of cognitive agency to a group of cognitive agents, such as a scientific research team. However, I claim that a crucial fifth challenge, that advocates of the extended mind commit the causal-constitution fallacy, has yet to be satisfactorily addressed. I focus on Spyridon Palermos’ use of dynamic systems theory to refute this charge and I argue that his appeal to dynamic systems theory as a way of understanding system-constitution fails. Instead, I suggest a social-cultural group selection hypothesis for understanding system-constitution. But, I leave it for another day to elaborate that hypothesis’ empirical plausibility.