The paper focuses on processes of normalization through which dis/ability is simultaneously produced in specific collectives, networks, and socio-technological systems that enable the construction of such demarcations. Our point of departure is the cochlear implant, a neuroprosthetic device intended to replace and/or augment the function of the damaged inner ear. Unlike hearing aids, which amplify sounds, the CI does the work of damaged hair cells in the inner ear by providing sound signals to the brain. We examine the processes of (...) the CI’s genesis as well as its specific uses by and interrelations to the different and divergent actors that the CI assembles. We argue that the technological device and the implicated normalization process mobilize complex effects in varying socio-technical arrangements. The CI is conceived as a “boundary object”  or a “quasi-object” [49, 83], i.e., a metastabilized medium of translation that coordinates social, cultural, and technological action. Although intended to transform non-hearing or hard of hearing people into competent and “normal” hearing subjects, the CI system reproduces the asymmetrical structures of the disability discourse  through its function of “developing and maintaining coherence between intersecting social worlds” [89, 393]. Additionally, it initiates controversial discourses that have resulted in new forms of biosocial collectivities ranging from cochlear implantees with normal human hearing to human configurations who have passed through human enhancement. Our approach is thus situated at the intersection of disability and media studies and tackles the particular conditions technological media configurations impose upon the production of dis/ability. (shrink)
As Professor of Philosophy at the University of Sydney for over 20 years, György Márkus exerted a profound influence on a generation of philosophers and students from many disciplinary backgrounds. His legendary lecture courses, spanning the history of modern philosophy from the Enlightenment through to the late 20th century, were memorable for their breadth, erudition, and philosophical drama. Always modest despite his mastery of the tradition, Márkus’s approach to this history of philosophy never failed to emphasize its continuing role in (...) shaping our inherited understanding of philosophy as ‘its own time comprehended in thoughts’. This is especially true of his contribution to the philosophical discourse of modernity, which we could summarize as comprising an original philosophy of cultural modernity. In what follows, I briefly reconstruct Márkus’s account of the adventures of the concept of culture, focusing on his definitive essay ‘The Path of Culture: From the Refined to the High, From the Popular to Mass Culture’ but also referring to other relevant Márkus texts, offering some critical remarks on his account of culture and its relationship with modern aesthetics, both classical and contemporary. (shrink)
Against the backdrop of an aging world population increasingly affected by a diverse range of abilities and disabilities as well as the rise of ubiquitous computing and digital app cultures, this paper questions how mobile technologies mediate between heterogeneous environments and sensing beings. To approach the current technological manufacturing of the senses, two lines of thought are of importance: First, there is a need to critically reflect upon the concept of assistive technologies as artifacts providing tangible solutions for a specific (...) disability. Second, the conventional distinction between user and environment requires a differentiated consideration. This contribution will first review James Gibson’s concept of “affordances” and modify this approach by introducing theories and methods of Science and Technology Studies and Actor-Network Theory. Then, we present two case studies where we explore the relations between recent “assistive” app technologies and human sensory perception. As hearing and seeing are key in this regard, we concentrate on two specific media technologies: ReSound LINX2, a hearing aid which allows for direct connect with iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch, and Camassia, an IOS app for sonic wayfinding for blind people. We emphasize the significance of dis-/abling practices for manufacturing novel forms of hearing and seeing and drawing on sources like promotional materials by manufacturers, ads, or user testimonials and reviews. Our analysis is interested in the reciprocal relationships between users and their socio-technical and media environments. By and large, this contribution will provide crucial insights into the contemporary entanglement of algorithm-driven technologies, daily practices, and sensing subjects: the production of techno-sensory arrangements. (shrink)
ABSTRACTWhilst agreeing with Robert Pippin that Hegel undertakes his philosophical enterprise in light of Kant's insights into the failings of pre-critical metaphysics, this paper outlines the shortcomings of Pippin's Hegel interpretation by contrasting what I call 'apperceptive idealism' on the one hand with 'transcendental ontology' on the other. By privileging subject over substance, Pippin commits Hegel to an ontologically modest form of Kantianism that, in missing how reality as a whole is the main topic of Hegel’s philosophy, leaves no (...) room for a crucial Hegelian task, namely accounting for the presence of self-conscious thinking in nature. Appreciating the nature of Hegel's true ambitions whilst remaining aware of how his Logic maps a 'realm of shadows', opens up the possibility of understanding his philosophy as forging a middle path: Hegel is neither the subjective idealist of Pippin's interpretation nor the advocate of a revival of first-order metaphysical theorising depicted by so many of Pippin's critics. (shrink)
In this paper we show that Audi’s fallibilist foundationalism is beset by three unclarities. First, there is a conceptual unclarity in that Audi leaves open if and how to distinguish clearly between the concepts of fallibility and defeasibility. Second, there is a general unclarity: it is not always clear which fallibility/defeasibility-theses Audi accepts or denies. Finally, there is an unclarity of self-application because Audi does not specify his own claim that fallibilist foundationalism is an inductivist, and therefore itself fallible, thesis. (...) The critical part of our paper is supplemented by a constructive part, in which we present a space of possible distinctions between different fallibility and defeasibility theses. These distinctions can be used by Audi as a toolkit to improve the clarity of fallibilist foundationalism and thus provide means to strengthen his position. (shrink)
Where does the mind begin and end? Most philosophers and cognitive scientists take the view that the mind is bounded by the skull or skin of the individual. Robert Wilson, in this provocative and challenging 2004 book, provides the foundations for the view that the mind extends beyond the boundary of the individual. The approach adopted offers a unique blend of traditional philosophical analysis, cognitive science, and the history of psychology and the human sciences. A forthcoming companion volume Genes (...) and the Agents of Life will explore the theme in the biological sciences. Written with verve and clarity, this ambitious book will appeal to a broad swathe of professionals and students in philosophy, psychology, cognitive science, and the history of the behavioural and human sciences. (shrink)
1. The Situation in Cognition 2. Situated Cognition: A Potted Recent History 3. Extensions in Biology, Computation, and Cognition 4. Articulating the Idea of Cognitive Extension 5. Are Some Resources Intrinsically Non-Cognitive? 6. Is Cognition Extended or Only Embedded? 7. Letting Nature Take Its Course.
Sociobiology developed in the 1960s as a field within evolutionary biology to explain human social traits and behaviours. Although sociobiology has few direct connections to eugenics, it shares eugenics’ optimistic enthusiasm for extending biological science into the human domain, often with reckless sensationalism. Sociobiology's critics have argued that sociobiology also propagates a kind of genetic determinism and represents the zealous misapplication of science beyond its proper reach that characterized the eugenics movement. More recently, evolutionary psychology represents a sophistication of sociobiology (...) that attends to the mind as the "missing link" between evolution and behaviour (Cosmides and Tooby 1992, Pinker 1997). (shrink)
Genes and the Agents of Life undertakes to rethink the place of the individual in the biological sciences, drawing parallels with the cognitive and social sciences. Genes, organisms, and species are all agents of life but how are each of these conceptualized within genetics, developmental biology, evolutionary biology, and systematics? The book includes highly accessible discussions of genetic encoding, species and natural kinds, and pluralism above the levels of selection, drawing on work from across the biological sciences. The book is (...) a companion to the author's Boundaries of the Mind, also available from Cambridge, where the focus is the cognitive sciences. The book will appeal to a broad range of professionals and students in philosophy, biology, and the history of science. (shrink)
This collection of original essays--by philosophers of biology, biologists, and cognitive scientists--provides a wide range of perspectives on species. Including contributions from David Hull, John Dupre, David Nanney, Kevin de Queiroz, and Kim Sterelny, amongst others, this book has become especially well-known for the three essays it contains on the homeostatic property cluster view of natural kinds, papers by Richard Boyd, Paul Griffiths, and Robert A. Wilson.
The computational argument for individualism, which moves from computationalism to individualism about the mind, is problematic, not because computationalism is false, but because computational psychology is, at least sometimes, wide. The paper provides an early, or perhaps predecessor, version of the thesis of extended cognition.
Are materially constituted entities, such as statues and glasses of liquid, something more than their material constituents? The puzzle that frames this paper stems from conflicting answers to this question. At the core of the paper is a distinctive way of thinking about material constitution that posits two concepts of constitution, compositional and ampliative constitution, with the bulk of the discussion devoted to developing distinct analyses for these concepts. Distinguishing these concepts solves our initial puzzle and enriches the space of (...) possibilities for constitution views. (shrink)
Dominant views of personal identity in philosophy take some kind of psychological continuity or connectedness over time to be criterial for the identity of a person over time. Such views assign psychological states, particularly those necessary for narrative memory of some kind, special importance in thinking about the nature of persons. The extended mind thesis, which has generated much recent discussion in the philosophy of mind and cognitive science, holds that a person’s psychological states can physically extend beyond that person’s (...) body. Since “person” is a term of both metaphysical and moral significance, and discussions of both extended minds and personal identity have often focused on memory, this article explores the relevance of extended cognition for the identity of persons with special attention to neuroethics and memory. (shrink)
While memory is conceptualized predominantly as an individual capacity in the cognitive and biological sciences, the social sciences have most commonly construed memory as a collective phenomenon. Collective memory has been put to diverse uses, ranging from accounts of nationalism in history and political science to views of ritualization and commemoration in anthropology and sociology. These appeals to collective memory share the idea that memory ‘‘goes beyond the individual’’ but often run together quite diﬀerent claims in spelling out that idea. (...) This paper reviews a sampling of recent work on collective memory in the light of emerging externalist views within the cognitive sciences, and through some reﬂection on broader traditions of thought in the biological and social sciences that have appealed to the idea that groups have minds. The paper concludes with some thoughts about the relationship between these kinds of cognitive metaphors in the social sciences and our notion of agency. (shrink)
The Eugenic Mind Project is a wide-ranging, philosophical book that explores and critiques both past and present eugenic thinking, drawing on the author’s intimate knowledge of eugenics in North America and his previous work on the cognitive, biological, and social sciences, the fragile sciences. Informed by the perspectives of Canadian eugenics survivors in the province of Alberta, The Eugenic Mind Project recounts the history of eugenics and the thinking that drove it, and critically engages contemporary manifestations of eugenic thought, newgenics. (...) An accessible, original work of scholarship adopting what the author calls a standpoint eugenics, this book focuses on the roots of eugenic thinking past and present. It will provoke and enrich discussions about human nature and human diversity, the social uses of biotechnology, and social policy governing future generations. (shrink)
"Amongst the human mind's proudest accomplishments is the invention of a science dedicated to understanding itself: cognitive science. ... This volume is an authoritative guide to this exhilarating new body of knowledge, written by the experts, edited with skill and good judment. If we were to leave a time capsule for the next millennium with records of the great achievements of civilization, this volume would have to be in it."--Steven Pinker.
The Architecture of the Mind is itself built on foundations that deserve probing. In this brief commentary I focus on these foundations—Carruthers’ conception of modularity, his arguments for thinking that the mind is massively modular in structure, and his view of human cognitive architecture.
We consider connections between number sense—the ability to judge number—and the interpretation of natural language quantifiers. In particular, we present empirical evidence concerning the neuroanatomical underpinnings of number sense and quantifier interpretation. We show, further, that impairment of number sense in patients can result in the impairment of the ability to interpret sentences containing quantifiers. This result demonstrates that number sense supports some aspects of the language faculty.
This paper attempts to do two things. First, it recounts the problem of intentionality, as it has typically been conceptualized, and argues that it needs to be reconceptualized in light of the radical form of externalism most commonly referred to as the extended mind thesis. Second, it provides an explicit, novel argument for that thesis, what I call the argument from meaning making, and offers some defense of that argument. This second task occupies the core of the paper, and in (...) completing it I distinguish _active _ _cognition_ from _cyborg fantasy arguments_ for externalism, and develop the analogy between the extended mind thesis in the cognitive sciences and developmental systems theory in developmental biology. The rethinking of the problem of intentionality on offer leads not so much to a solution as to a dissolution of that problem, as traditionally conceived. (shrink)
Individuals are a prominent part of the biological world. Although biologists and philosophers of biology draw freely on the concept of an individual in articulating both widely accepted and more controversial claims, there has been little explicit work devoted to the biological notion of an individual itself. How should we think about biological individuals? What are the roles that biological individuals play in processes such as natural selection (are genes and groups also units of selection?), speciation (are species individuals?), and (...) organismic development (do genomes code for organisms)? Much of our discussion here will focus on organisms as a central kind of biological individual, and that discussion will raise broader questions about the nature of the biological world, for example, about its complexity, its organization, and its relation to human thought. (shrink)
This paper examines the standard view of realization operative incontemporary philosophy of mind, and proposes an alternative, generalperspective on realization. The standard view can be expressed, insummary form, as the conjunction of two theses, the sufficiency thesis andthe constitutivity thesis. Physicalists of both reductionist and anti-reductionist persuasions share a conception of realization wherebyrealizations are determinative of the properties they realize and physically constitutive of the individuals with those properties. Centralto the alternative view that I explore here is the idea that (...) the requisite,metaphysically robust notion of realization is ineliminably context-sensitive. I shall argue that the sufficiency and constitutivity theses aretypically not jointly satisfied by any one candidate realizer, and that goingcontext-sensitive in one's metaphysics is preferable to the standard view.The context-sensitive views developed here are implicit in a range ofcommon views in both the philosophy of mind and the philosophy of biology,even if they have not been explicitly articulated, and even though theyundermine other views that are commonly endorsed. (shrink)
Cognition is embodied when it is deeply dependent upon features of the physical body of an agent, that is, when aspects of the agent's body beyond the brain play a significant causal or physically constitutive role in cognitive processing. In general, dominant views in the philosophy of mind and cognitive science have considered the body as peripheral to understanding the nature of mind and cognition. Proponents of embodied cognitive science view this as a serious mistake. Sometimes the nature of the (...) dependence of cognition on the body is quite unexpected, and suggests new ways of conceptualizing and exploring the mechanics of cognitive processing. Embodied cognitive science encompasses a loose-knit family of research programs in the cognitive sciences that often share a commitment to critiquing and even replacing traditional approaches to cognition and cognitive processing. Empirical research on embodied cognition has exploded in the past 10 years. As the bibliography for this article attests, the various bodies of work that will be discussed represent a serious alternative to the investigation of cognitive phenomena. Relatively recent work on the embodiment of cognition provides much food for thought for empirically-informed philosophers of mind. This is in part because of the rich range of phenomena that embodied cognitive science has studied. But it is also in part because those phenomena are often thought to challenge dominant views of the mind, such as the computational and representational theories of mind, at the heart of traditional cognitive science. And they have sometimes been taken to undermine standard positions in the philosophy of mind, such as the idea that the mind is identical to, or even realized in, the brain. (shrink)
Vision constitutes an interesting domain, or range of domains, for debate over the extended mind thesis, the idea that minds physically extend beyond the boundaries of the body. In part this is because vision and visual experience more particularly are sometimes presented as a kind of line in the sand for what we might call externalist creep about the mind: once all reasonable concessions have been made to externalists about the mind, visual experience marks a line beyond which lies a (...) safe haven for individualists. Here I want to put a little more pressure on such a view of visual experience, as well as to offer a more constructive, positive argument in defense of the idea of extended vision. (shrink)
This book presents the major teachings of Mahāyāna Buddhism in a precise, dramatic, and even humorous form. For two millennia this Sūtra, called the “jewel of the _Mahāyāna Sūtras_,” has enjoyed immense popularity among Mahāyāna Buddhists in India, central and southeast Asia, Japan, and especially China, where its incidents were the basis for a style in art and literature prevalent during several centuries. Robert Thurman’s translation makes available in relatively nontechnical English the Tibetan version of this key Buddhist scripture, (...) previously known to the English-speaking world only through translations from Chinese texts. The _Tibetan_ version is generally conceded to be more faithful to the original Sanskrit than are the Chinese texts. The Tibetan version also is clearer, richer, and more precise in its philosophical and psychological expression. The twelve books of the Sūtra are accompanied by an introduction and an epilogue by Dr. Thurman and by three glossaries: Sanskrit terms, numerical categories, and technical terms. (shrink)
This paper considers ten questions that those puzzled by or skeptical of extended cognition have posed. Discussion of these questions ranges across substantive, methodological, and dialectical issues in the ongoing debate over extended cognition, such as whether the issue between proponents and opponents of extended cognition is merely semantic or a matter of convention; whether extended cognition should be treated in the same way as extended biology; and whether conscious mental states pose a special problem for the extended mind thesis. (...) Lethocerus, the giant water bug, will be a recurrent reference point for much of the discussion. (shrink)
The impressive variation amongst biological individuals generates many complexities in addressing the simple-sounding question what is a biological individual? A distinction between evolutionary and physiological individuals is useful in thinking about biological individuals, as is attention to the kinds of groups, such as superorganisms and species, that have sometimes been thought of as biological individuals. More fully understanding the conceptual space that biological individuals occupy also involves considering a range of other concepts, such as life, reproduction, and agency. There has (...) been a focus in some recent discussions by both philosophers and biologists on how evolutionary individuals are created and regulated, as well as continuing work on the evolution of individuality. (shrink)
This paper argues that the metarepresentational systems we posses are wide or extended, rather than individualistic. There are two basic ideas. The first is that metarepresentation inherits its width from the mental representation of its objects. The second is that mental processing often operates on internal and external symbols, and this suggests that cognitive systems extend beyond the heads that house them.
This volume of twelve specially commissioned essays about species draws on the perspectives of prominent researchers from anthropology , botany, developmental psychology , the philosophy of biology and science, protozoology, and zoology . The concept of species has played a focal role in both evolutionary biology and the philosophy of biology , and the last decade has seen something of a publication boom on the topic (e.g., Otte and Endler 1989; Ereshefsky 1992b; Paterson 1994; lambert and Spence 1995; Claridge, Dawah, (...) and Wilson 1997; Wheeler and Meier 1999; Howard and Berlocher 1998). (shrink)
In his paper ‘Miracles: metaphysics, physics, and physicalism’, 1 Kirk McDermid appears to have two primary goals. The first is to demonstrate that my account of how God might produce a miracle without violating any laws of nature is radically flawed. The second is to suggest two alternative accounts, one suitable for a deterministic world, one suitable for an indeterministic world, which allow for the occurrence of a miracle without violation of the laws of nature, yet do not suffer from (...) the defects of what McDermid terms the ‘Larmerian’ model. I briefly describe my model, reply to McDermid's criticism of it, and evaluate his alternative accounts. (shrink)
Despite the fact that the history of eugenics in Canada is necessarily part of the larger history of eugenics, there is a special role for oral history to play in the telling of this story, a role that promises to shift us from the muddled middle of the story. Not only has the testimony of eugenics survivors already played perhaps the most important role in revealing much about the practice of eugenics in Canada, but the willingness and ability of survivors (...) to share their own oral histories makes the situation in western Canada almost unique. Conversely, I also discuss the role that oral history plays in “surviving a eugenic past”, trading on the ambiguity of this phrase to reflect both on the survivorship of those who have been viewed as subhuman via some kind of eugenic lens and on the collective legacy with which Canada’s eugenic past presents us. (shrink)
In Wilson (2019), I articulated and defended a version of the Westermarck Effect by developing a phylogenetic argument that has purchase within primatology but that has had more limited appeal for cultural anthropologists due to their commitment to conventionalist or culture-first accounts of incest avoidance. Here I look to advance the discussion of incest and incest avoidance beyond culture-first accounts in two ways. First, I shall dig deeper into the disciplinary grooves within cultural anthropology that make attractive the view that (...) incest has a naturalness to it that is countered only or primarily by explicit social rules, such as taboos. Second I further explore the emerging, post-conventionalist view of incest avoidance in a more positive vein by elaborating on the nature of the Westermarckian mechanism and how it relates to such explicit social rules and our innate biological endowments. One general aim here is to overcome the bifurcation between perspectives that are seen as biological and those seen as cultural, pre-empting or countering the claim that rejecting culture-first accounts entails a form of biological reductionism, a general aim I have pursued in related publications on bioessentialism about kinship (Wilson 2016a, 2016b). (shrink)
We introduce two notions–the shadows and the shallows of explanation–in opening up explanation to broader, interdisciplinary investigation. The shadows of explanation refer to past philosophical efforts to provide either a conceptual analysis of explanation or in some other way to pinpoint the essence of explanation. The shallows of explanation refer to the phenomenon of having surprisingly limited everyday, individual cognitive abilities when it comes to explanation. Explanations are ubiquitous, but they typically are not accompanied by the depth that we might, (...) prima facie, expect. We explain the existence of the shadows and shallows of explanation in terms of there being a theoretical abyss between explanation and richer, theoretical structures that are often attributed to people. We offer an account of the shallows, in particular, both in terms of shorn-down, internal, mental machinery, and in terms of an enriched, public symbolic environment, relative to the currently dominant ways of thinking about cognition and the world. (shrink)
In metaphysics, the view that material constitution is transitive is ubiquitous, an assumption expressed by both proponents and critics of constitution views. Likewise, it is typically assumed within the philosophy of mind that physical realization is a transitive relation. In both cases, this assumption of transitivity plays a role in discussion of the broader implications of a metaphysics that invokes either relation. Here I provide reasons for questioning this assumption and the uses to which this appeal to transitivity is put. (...) As my title suggests, I shall focus on the case of material constitution, using a brief discussion of realization at the outset to motivate the discussion of the transitivity of material constitution at the core of the paper. (shrink)