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Summary In the late 19th and early 20th Century, many psychologists posited group minds to explain the behavior of crowds and states, as well as the emergence of norms and societal facts. In a world populated by powerful labor unions, anarchist collectives, and radical workers’ parties, each resisting the unfair demands of powerful corporate agents, it seemed reasonable to assume that powerful psychological forces were at play in the production of collective behavior. But these theories of collective mentality relied on such implausibly weak forms of functionalism and such excessively inflationary ontologies that they shared little in common with the theories of mental states that emerged in other parts of philosophy and the cognitive sciences. In the current age of popular uprisings, failing political parties, and increasing corporate power, it come s as no surprise that philosophers, psychologists, and cognitive scientists have once again developed an interest in collective behavior. A number of popular books have attempted to resuscitate claims about collective intelligence and collective decision-making; and there is a rapidly growing philosophical literature on issues of collaboration, collective intentionality, collective decision-making, and collective responsibility. Research on collective mentality spans a wide range of philosophical topics that pertaining to group minds and collective mental states. Like the philosophy of mind more broadly, the investigation of collective mentality overlaps in rich and important ways with the philosophy of action and the philosophy of cognitive science.  On the one hand, there is a long tradition of analyzing the nature and possibility of collective intentionality (this research is mainly catalogued under the 'collective action', 'collective intentionality', and 'collective responsibility' subcategories). On the other hand, there is a more recent field of investigation, grounded in the scientific study of distributed cognition. This research has targeted everything from issues of cognitive architecture, to questions about the possibility of collective consciousness and the possibility of collective mental representation. 
Key works The literature on collective intentionality and collective responsibility is expansive, and key works for each of these areas should be found under those subheadings. From a perspective more heavily grounded in the philosophy of cognitive science, Clark 1994 argues that a Dennettian account of mentality can be extended to cover some types of groups, and Hutchins 1995 develops a framework for studying collective and distributed cognition based on Marr 1982Tollefsen 2003 and Rovane 1997 develop an approach to collective personhood based on the reactive attitudes. Theiner et al 2010 and Tollefsen 2006 develop defenses of the group mind in line with the more familiar extended mind hypothesis (Clark & Chalmers 1998). Sutton et al 2010 builds an empirical and theoretical foundation for the study of collective remembering. Wilson 2001 offers a critical appraisal of the collective psychology tradition that emerged in the late 19th Century, and develops the Social Manifestation Hypothesis as an alternative to positing group minds. Rupert 2005 develops a compelling set of objections to models of collective mentality that depend on appeals to intentionality, while Rupert 2011 offers a critical appraisal of empirical work on collective mentality. Finally, Huebner 2014 offers a sustained defense of the group mind hypothesis that builds on these resources and responds to the most common objections to the hypothesis of collective mentality.
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Collective Mentality, Misc
  1. Michael Anderson, Evolution, Embodiment and the Nature of the Mind.
    In: B. Hardy-Vallee & N. Payette, eds. Beyond the brain: embodied, situated & distributed cognition. (Cambridge: Cambridge Scholar’s Press), in press. Abstract: In this article, I do three main things: 1. First, I introduce an approach to the mind motivated primarily by evolutionary considerations. I do that by laying out four principles for the study of the mind from an evolutionary perspective, and four predictions that they suggest. This evolutionary perspective is completely compatible with, although broader than, the embodied cognition (...)
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  2. Santiago Arango-Muñoz (2013). Scaffolded Memory and Metacognitive Feelings. Review of Philosophy and Psychology 4 (1):135-152.
    Recent debates on mental extension and distributed cognition have taught us that environmental resources play an important and often indispensable role in supporting cognitive capacities. In order to clarify how interactions between the mind –particularly memory– and the world take place, this paper presents the “selection problem” and the “endorsement problem” as structural problems arising from such interactions in cases of mental scaffolding. On the one hand, the selection problem arises each time an agent is confronted with a cognitive problem, (...)
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  3. Olle Blomberg, Do Socio-Technical Systems Cognise? Proceedings of the 2nd AISB Symposium on Computing and Philosophy.
    The view that an agent’s cognitive processes sometimes include proper parts found outside the skin and skull of the agent is gaining increasing acceptance in philosophy of mind. One main empirical touchstone for this so-called active externalism is Edwin Hutchins’ theory of distributed cognition (DCog). However, the connection between DCog and active externalism is far from clear. While active externalism is one component of DCog, the theory also incorporates other related claims, which active externalists may not want to take on (...)
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  4. D. H. M. Brooks (1986). Group Minds. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 64 (December):456-70.
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  5. Jaime F. Cárdenas-García (2013). Distributed Cognition: An Ectoderm-Centric Perspective. [REVIEW] Biosemiotics 6 (3):337-350.
    Distributed cognition is widely recognized as an approach to the study of all cognition. It identifies the distribution of cognitive processes between persons and technology, among people, and across time in the development of the social and material contexts for thinking. This paper suggests an ectoderm-centric perspective as the basis for distributed cognition, and in so doing redefines distributed cognition as the ability of an organism to interact with its environment for the purpose of satisfying its most basic physiological (internal (...)
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  6. Andy Clark (2008). Supersizing the Mind: Embodiment, Action, and Cognitive Extension. Oxford University Press.
    Introduction : brainbound versus extended -- From embodiment to cognitive extension -- The active body -- The negotiable body -- Material symbols -- World, Incorporated -- Boundary disputes -- Mind re-bound -- The cure for cognitive hiccups (HEMC, HEC, HEMC ...) -- Rediscovering the brain -- The limits of embodiment -- Painting, planning, and perceiving -- Disentangling embodiment -- Conclusions : mind-sized bites.
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  7. Nils Dahlbäck, Mattias Kristiansson & Fredrik Stjernberg (2013). Distributed Remembering Through Active Structuring of Activities and Environments. Review of Philosophy and Psychology 4 (1):153-165.
    In this paper, we consider a few actual cases of mnemonic strategies among older subjects (older than 65). The cases are taken from an ethnographic study, examining how elderly adults cope with cognitive decline. We believe that these cases illustrate that the process of remembering in many cases involve a complex distributed web of processes involving both internal or intracranial and external sources. Our cases illustrate that the nature of distributed remembering is shaped by and subordinated to the dynamic characteristics (...)
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  8. H. C. Dowdall (1926). The Application of Ward's Psychology to the Legal Problem of Corporate Entity. The Monist 36 (1):111-135.
    The unity of the group mind is a psychoplastic unity. In the group mind subjects are integrated through an object and not objects through a subject. It follows, among many much more important consequences, that a scientific analysis and arrangement of the law relating to corporations should proceed in the manner practically indicated in the Law of Limited Companies, Corporations Sole, Trusts, Bankruptcy, Local Government, and so forth, that is to say, by the estatificatian of interests and not by the (...)
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  9. Jon Dron (2006). The Teacher, the Learner and the Collective Mind. AI and Society 21 (1-2):200-216.
    This paper deals with techniques for tapping processes of self-organisation in adult learning. It looks at systems that make use of evolution and stigmergy (communication through signs left in the environment) to generate a kind of group mind, which both influences and is influenced by the actions of its constituents. Such systems exhibit both high structure and high dialogue, constraining choice and providing freedom at the same time. This makes them very interesting educationally as theory suggests that such opposites cannot (...)
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  10. Anna Estany & David Casacuberta (2012). Contributions of Socially Distributed Cognition to Social Epistemology: The Case of Testimony. Eidos 16 (16):40-68.
    El objetivo de este artículo es analizar y revisar las normas que filosóficamente asociamos al proceso de testimonio, inquiriendo hasta qué puntoson0 consistentes con los conocimientos empíricos de las ciencias cognitivas.Tradicionalmente, el problema del testimonio surgía cuando, desde una epistemología de corte individualista, se suponía, siguiendo el dictum ya marcado en la Modernidad tanto por racionalistas como por empiristas, de que el conocimiento debía ser testado personalmente. Sin embargo, disciplinas y enfoques recientes, como la Cognición Socialmente Distribuida y la Epistemología (...)
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  11. Martin M. Fagin, Jeremy K. Yamashiro & William C. Hirst (2013). The Adaptive Function of Distributed Remembering: Contributions to the Formation of Collective Memory. [REVIEW] Review of Philosophy and Psychology 4 (1):91-106.
    Empirical research has increasingly turned its attention to distributed cognition. Acts of remembering are embedded in a social, interactional context; cognitive labor is divided between a rememberer and external sources. The present article examines the benefits and costs associated with distributed, collaborative, conversational remembering. Further, we examine the consequences of joint acts of remembering on subsequent individual acts of remembering. Here, we focus on influences on memory through social contagion and socially shared retrieval-induced forgetting. Extending beyond a single social interaction, (...)
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  12. Ronald Giere, Models as Parts of Distributed Cognitive Systems.
    Recent work on the role of models in science has revealed a great many kinds of models performing many different roles. In this paper I suggest that one can find much unity among all this diversity by thinking of many models as being components of distributed cognitive systems. I begin by distinguishing the relevant notion of a distributed cognitive system and then give examples of different kinds of models that can be thought of as functioning as components of such systems. (...)
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  13. Ronald Giere (2002). 15 Scientific Cognition as Distributed Cognition. In Peter Carruthers, Stephen P. Stich & Michael Siegal (eds.), The Cognitive Basis of Science. Cambridge University Press. 285.
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  14. Ronald N. Giere, Computation and Agency in Scientific Cognition.
    I begin with a representative example of a contemporary scientific activity, observations using the Hubble Space Telescope, and ask what approaches within the cognitive sciences seem most fruitful as aids in developing an overall account of this sort of scientific activity. After presenting the Hubble Space Telescope System and a recent result, I consider applying a standard computational paradigm to this system. I find difficulties in identifying an appropriate cognitive agent and in making a suitable place for the instrumentation that (...)
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  15. Ronald N. Giere (2011). Distributed Cognition as Human Centered Although Not Human Bound: Reply to Vaesen 1. Social Epistemology 25 (4):393 - 399.
    At issue is the usefulness of a concept of distributed cognition for the philosophy of science. I have argued for the desirability of regarding scientific systems such as the Hubble Space Telescope as distributed cognitive systems. But I disagree with those who would ascribe cognitive states, such as knowledge, to such systems as a whole, and insist that cognitive states are ascribable only to the human components of such systems. Vaesen, appealing to a well-known ?parity principle,? insists that if there (...)
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  16. Ronald N. Giere (2007). Distributed Cognition Without Distributed Knowing. Social Epistemology 21 (3):313-320.
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  17. Ronald N. Giere (2002). Distributed Cognition in Epistemic Cultures. Philosophy of Science 69 (4):637--644.
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  18. Ronald N. Giere (2002). Discussion Note: Distributed Cognition in Epistemic Cultures. Philosophy of Science 69 (4):637-644.
    In Epistemic Cultures (1999), Karin Knorr Cetina argues that different scientific fields exhibit different epistemic cultures. She claims that in high energy physics (HEP) individual persons are displaced as epistemic subjects in favor of experiments themselves. In molecular biology (MB), by contrast, individual persons remain the primary epistemic subjects. Using Ed Hutchins' (1995) account of navigation aboard a traditional US Navy ship as a prototype, I argue that both HEP and MB exhibit forms of distributed cognition. That is, in both (...)
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  19. Ronald N. Giere & B. Moffatt (2003). Distributed Cognition: Where the Cognitive and the Social Merge. Social Studies of Science 33:301--310.
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  20. M. Gilbert (2002). Belief and Acceptance as Features of Groups. Protosociology 16:35-69.
  21. Margaret Gilbert (2006). Who's to Blame? Collective Moral Responsibility and its Implications for Group Members. Midwest Studies in Philosophy 30 (1):94–114.
  22. Sean Hagberg (1997). Edwin Hutchins, Cognition in the Wild. Minds and Machines 7 (3):456-460.
  23. Celia B. Harris, Paul Keil, John Sutton, Amanda Barnier & Doris McIlwain (2011). We Remember, We Forget: Collaborative Remembering in Older Couples. Discourse Processes 48 (4):267-303.
    Transactive memory theory describes the processes by which benefits for memory can occur when remembering is shared in dyads or groups. In contrast, cognitive psychology experiments demonstrate that social influences on memory disrupt and inhibit individual recall. However, most research in cognitive psychology has focused on groups of strangers recalling relatively meaningless stimuli. In the current study, we examined social influences on memory in groups with a shared history, who were recalling a range of stimuli, from word lists to personal, (...)
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  24. Carsten Herrmann-Pillath (2012). Institutions, Distributed Cognition and Agency: Rule-Following as Performative Action. Journal of Economic Methodology 19 (1):21-42.
    Aoki recently proposed the concept of substantive institutions, a concept that relates the outcomes of strategic interaction with public representations of the equilibrium states of games. I argue that the Aoki model can be grounded in theories of distributed cognition and performativity, which I put into the context of Searle's philosophical account of institutions. Substantive institutions build on regularized causal interactions between internal neuronal mechanisms and external facts, shared in a population of agents. Following Searle's proposal of conceiving rule-following as (...)
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  25. Francis Heylighen & Clément Vidal (2007). Getting Things Done: The Science Behind Stress-Free Productivity. Cogprints.
    Allen (2001) proposed the “Getting Things Done” (GTD) method for personal productivity enhancement, and reduction of the stress caused by information overload. This paper argues that recent insights in psychology and cognitive science support and extend GTD’s recommendations. We first summarize GTD with the help of a flowchart. We then review the theories of situated, embodied and distributed cognition that purport to explain how the brain processes information and plans actions in the real world. The conclusion is that the brain (...)
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  26. Bryce Huebner (2014). Macrocognition: A Theory of Distributed Minds and Collective Intentionality. OUP USA.
    This book develops a novel approach to distributed cognition and collective intentionality. It is argued that collective mentality should be only be posited where specialized subroutines are integrated in a way that yields skillful, goal-directed behavior that is sensitive to concerns that are relevant to a group as such.
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  27. Bryce Huebner (2011). Genuinely Collective Emotions. European Journal for Philosophy of Science 1 (1):89-118.
    It is received wisdom in philosophy and the cognitive sciences that individuals can be in emotional states but groups cannot. But why should we accept this view? In this paper, I argue that there is substantial philosophical and empirical support for the existence of collective emotions. Thus, while there is good reason to be skeptical about many ascriptions of collective emotion, I argue that some groups exhibit the computational complexity and informational integration required for being in genuinely emotional states.
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  28. Bryce Huebner (2008). Do You See What We See? An Investigation of an Argument Against Collective Representation. Philosophical Psychology 21 (1):91 – 112.
    Collectivities (states, club, unions, teams, etc.) are often fruitfully spoken of as though they possessed representational capacities. Despite this fact, many philosophers reject the possibility that collectivities might be thought of as genuinely representational. This paper addresses the most promising objection to the possibility of collective representation, the claim that there is no explanatory value to positing collective representations above and beyond the representational states of the individuals that compose a particular collectivity. I claim that this argument either proves too (...)
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  29. Lee Humphreys (2005). Reframing Social Groups, Closure, and Stabilization in the Social Construction of Technology. Social Epistemology 19 (2 & 3):231 – 253.
    This paper complicates, extends, and modifies Pinch and Bijker's original social construction of technology, specifically their concepts of relevant social groups, closure, and stabilization, in order to gain insight into long-term processes of how we use and understand technology. First, this paper identifies four broad categories of relevant social groups in the social construction of technology based on stake holdings and compares them according to their activities, resources, and directionality. Second, the paper discusses the distinctions between closure and stabilization of (...)
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  30. Michael J. Jacobson, Charlotte Taylor, Anne Newstead, Deborah Richards, Meredith Taylor & John Porte, Collaborative Virtual Worlds for Enhanced Scientific Understanding.
    This is a copy of the presentation given at the Workshop on Agency and Distributed Cognition at Macquarie University, March 2012.
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  31. Adrian Jones (2011). Philosophical and Socio-Cognitive Foundations for Teaching in Higher Education Through Collaborative Approaches to Student Learning. Educational Philosophy and Theory 43 (9):997-1011.
    This paper considers the implications for higher education of recent work on narrative theory, distributed cognition and artificial intelligence. These perspectives are contrasted with the educational implications of Heidegger's ontological phenomenology [being-there and being-aware (Da-sein)] and with the classic and classical foundations of education which Heidegger and Gadamer once criticised. The aim is to prompt discussion of what teaching might become if psychological insights (about collective minds let loose to learn) are associated with every realm of higher education (not just (...)
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  32. David Kirsh (2004). Metacognition, Distributed Cognition and Visual Design. Cognition, Education and Communication Technology:147--180.
    Metacognition is associated with planning, monitoring, evaluating and repairing performance Designers of elearning systems can improve the quality of their environments by explicitly structuring the visual and interactive display of learning contexts to facilitate metacognition. Typically page layout, navigational appearance, visual and interactivity design are not viewed as major factors in metacognition. This is because metacognition tends to be interpreted as a process in the head, rather than an interactive one. It is argued here, that cognition and metacognition are part (...)
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  33. David Kirsh (2001). The Context of Work. Human-Computer Interaction 16:305-322.
    The question of how to conceive and represent the context of work is explored from the theoretical perspective of distributed cognition. It is argued that to understand the office work context we need to go beyond tracking superficial physical attributes such as who or what is where and when and consider the state of digital resources, people’s concepts, task state, social relations, and the local work culture, to name a few. In analyzing an office more deeply, three concepts are especially (...)
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  34. David Kirsh (2000). Distributed Cognition, Toward a New Foundation for Human-Computer Interaction Research. ACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction 7 (2):174-196.
    We are quickly passing through the historical moment when people work in front of a single computer, dominated by a small CRT and focused on tasks involving only local information. Networked computers are becoming ubiquitous and are playing increasingly significant roles in our lives and in the basic infrastructure of science, business, and social interaction. For human-computer interaction o advance in the new millennium we need to better understand the emerging dynamic of interaction in which the focus task is no (...)
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  35. David Kirsh (1999). Distrubuted Cognition, Coordination and Environmental Design. Proceedings of the European Conference on Cognitive Science.
    The type of principles which cognitive engineers need to design better work environments are principles which explain interactivity and distributed cognition: how human agents interact with themselves and others, their work spaces, and the resources and constraints that populate those spaces. A first step in developing these principles is to clarify the fundamental concepts of environment, coordination, and behavioural function. Using simple examples, I review changes the distributed perspective forces on these basic notions.
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  36. David Kirsh (1999). Distrubuted Cognition, Coordination and Environmental Design. Proceedings of the European Conference on Cognitive Science.
    The type of principles which cognitive engineers need to design better work environments are principles which explain interactivity and distributed cognition: how human agents interact with themselves and others, their work spaces, and the resources and constraints that populate those spaces. A first step in developing these principles is to clarify the fundamental concepts of environment, coordination, and behavioural function. Using simple examples, I review changes the distributed perspective forces on these basic notions.
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  37. David Kirsh, Jim Hollan & Edwin Hutchins (2000). Distributed Cognition, Toward a New Foundation for Human-Computer Interaction Research. ACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction 7 (2):174-196.
    We are quickly passing through the historical moment when people work in front of a single computer, dominated by a small CRT and focused on tasks involving only local information. Networked computers are becoming ubiquitous and are playing increasingly significant roles in our lives and in the basic infrastructure of science, business, and social interaction. For human-computer interaction o advance in the new millennium we need to better understand the emerging dynamic of interaction in which the focus task is no (...)
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  38. J. Laird (1923). The Group Mind and the General Will. The Monist 33 (3):453-472.
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  39. Young E. Lee (2008). The Nature of Embodied Distributed Cognition. Proceedings of the Xxii World Congress of Philosophy 54:21-21.
    There has been a lot of strong evidence showing that human cognition works not in a central processing way but in a distributed way. As well known, human brain processes huge information in a parallel and distributed way. Recently cognitive scientists have contended that the minds are embodied in environment. These two ideas of distribution in cognition and embodiment in the mind can go along overall, but there is a tension between them in some specific respects, especially in the matter (...)
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  40. P. D. Magnus (2007). Distributed Cognition and the Task of Science. Social Studies of Science 37 (2):297--310.
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  41. Kourken Michaelian & John Sutton (2013). Distributed Cognition and Memory Research: History and Current Directions. Review of Philosophy and Psychology 4 (1):1-24.
    According to the hypotheses of distributed and extended cognition, remembering does not always occur entirely inside the brain but is often distributed across heterogeneous systems combining neural, bodily, social, and technological resources. These ideas have been intensely debated in philosophy, but the philosophical debate has often remained at some distance from relevant empirical research, while empirical memory research, in particular, has been somewhat slow to incorporate distributed/extended ideas. This situation, however, appears to be changing, as we witness an increasing level (...)
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  42. Don Ross, David Spurrett, Harold Kincaid & G. Lynn Stephens (eds.) (2007). Distributed Cognition and the Will: Individual Volition and Social Context. MIT Press.
    Philosophers and behavioral scientists discuss what, if anything, of the traditional concept of individual conscious will can survive recent scientific ...
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  43. Robert D. Rupert, Against Group Cognitive States.
  44. Robert D. Rupert, Individual Minds as Groups, Group Minds as Individuals.
  45. Robert D. Rupert (2011). Empirical Arguments for Group Minds: A Critical Appraisal. Philosophy Compass 6 (9):630-639.
  46. Robert D. Rupert (2005). Minding One's Cognitive Systems: When Does a Group of Minds Constitute a Single Cognitive Unit? Episteme 1 (3):177-188.
    The possibility of group minds or group mental states has been considered by a number of authors addressing issues in social epistemology and related areas (Goldman 2004, Pettit 2003, Gilbert 2004, Hutchins 1995). An appeal to group minds might, in the end, do indispensable explanatory work in the social or cognitive sciences. I am skeptical, though, and this essay lays out some of the reasons for my skepticism. The concerns raised herein constitute challenges to the advocates of group minds (or (...)
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  47. Hans Bernhard Schmid (2014). Plural Self-Awareness. Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 13 (1):7-24.
    It has been claimed in the literature that collective intentionality and group attitudes presuppose some “sense of ‘us’” among the participants (other labels sometimes used are “sense of community,” “communal awareness,” “shared point of view,” or “we-perspective”). While this seems plausible enough on an intuitive level, little attention has been paid so far to the question of what the nature and role of this mysterious “sense of ‘us’” might be. This paper states (and argues for) the following five claims: (1) (...)
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  48. Miriam Solomon (1997). Book Review:Cognition in the Wild Edwin Hutchins. [REVIEW] Philosophy of Science 64 (1):181-.
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  49. Kaj Sotala & Harri Valpola (2012). Coalescing Minds: Brain Uploading-Related Group Mind Scenarios. International Journal of Machine Consciousness 4 (01):293-312.
    We present a hypothetical process of mind coalescence, where arti cial connections are created between two or more brains. This might simply allow for an improved form of communication. At the other extreme, it might merge the minds into one in a process that can be thought of as a reverse split-brain operation. We propose that one way mind coalescence might happen is via an exocortex, a prosthetic extension of the biological brain which integrates with the brain as seamlessly as (...)
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  50. David Spurrett, Don Ross, Harold Kincaid & Lynn Stephens (eds.) (2007). Distributed Cognition and the Will: Individual Volition and Social Context. MIT Press.
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