ArgLab • Permanent Seminar

Paul Smart

Active Externalism: Endgame

The terms “extended cognition” and the “extended mind” identify two inter-related strands of philosophical argument that are sometimes subsumed under the broader heading of active externalism. Despite the considerable body of philosophical work that has been directed to these terms, it remains unclear how we should understand them. In this seminar, I will outline an account that accommodates the notions of extended cognition and the extended mind under a common theoretical umbrella. As an added bonus, I will show how the account enables us to resolve, bypass, or at least explicate some of the problems that have been lodged against active externalist claims. The virtues of the account are: 1) it is applicable to both extended cognition and the extended mind, 2) it explicates the conceptual distinction between distributed and extended cognition, 3) it broadens the scope of active externalism to the realm of non-cognitive phenomena—the realm of what I will call “extended X”, 4) it establishes sensible contact with the scientific (and engineering) effort to analyse (and synthesize) cognitive systems, and 5) it delivers new ways of thinking about prominent problems in the active externalist literature (e.g., the mark of the cognitive, the problem of cognitive bloat, and the thorny issue of phenomenal transparency).

Paul Smart is a Senior Research Fellow at the University of Southampton.

All welcome, but contact for a password.

(with 30 mins extra informal discussion available for those who want).