Interactional expertise and embodiment

In this four part exchange, Evan Selinger starts by stating that Collins’s empirical evidence in respect of linguistic socialization and its bearing on artificial intelligence and expertise is valuable; it advances philosophical and sociological understanding of the relationship between knowledge and language. Nevertheless, he argues that Collins mischaracterizes the data under review and thereby misrepresents how knowledge is acquired and understates the extent to which expert knowers are embodied. Selinger reconstructs the case for the importance of the body in the initial acquisition of language and challenges Collins to show how a disembodied entity could become fluent in any language at all.Collins responds by accepting that his approach does not demonstrate quite as much about the irrelevance of the body as he thought it did but that even though he accepts all of Selinger’s claims, ‘the body’ as needed by the philosophical approach set out by Selinger is still a vestigial thing. Collins’s main point, however, is that the philosophical view of the body—the world is divided into embodied agents and unembodied entities—distracts attention from the more interesting empirically researchable question of how the ability to become socialized diminishes, if it does, as the body become more and more minimal. The right research question is not about whether a person can extrapolate from minimal sensory input but how much extrapolation is possible under different circumstances and how it is done.Dreyfus, having seen the whole of the exchange so far, agrees that both have a point but argues that Collins’s approach still misses the well established importance of bodily engagement for full understanding.Collins responds to this by trying to set out more clearly the position associated with the idea of interactional expertise.Keywords: Interactional expertise; Phenomenology; Turing test; Embodiment; Tacit knowledge; Socialization
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DOI 10.1016/j.shpsa.2007.09.008
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Harry Collins, Andy Clark & Jeff Shrager (2008). Keeping the Collectivity in Mind? Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 7 (3):353-374.

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Harry Collins, Robert Evans & Mike Gorman (2007). Trading Zones and Interactional Expertise. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 38 (4):657-666.
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Selinger, Evan, Dreyfus, Hubert & Harry Collins (2007). Interactional Expertise and Embodiment. Studies in the History and Philosophy of Science 38 (4):722-740.

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