The Embedded and Extended Character Hypotheses

In Julian Kiverstein (ed.), The Routledge Handbook of Philosophy of the Social Mind. New York, NY, USA: Routledge. pp. 465-478 (2017)


This paper brings together two erstwhile distinct strands of philosophical inquiry: the extended mind hypothesis and the situationist challenge to virtue theory. According to proponents of the extended mind hypothesis, the vehicles of at least some mental states (beliefs, desires, emotions) are not located solely within the confines of the nervous system (central or peripheral) or even the skin of the agent whose states they are. When external props, tools, and other systems are suitably integrated into the functional apparatus of the agent, they are partial bearers of her cognitions, motivations, memories, and so on. According to proponents of the situationist challenge to virtue theory, dispositions located solely within the confines of the nervous system (central or peripheral) or even the skin of the agent to whom they are attributed typically do not meet the normative standards associated with either virtue or vice (moral, epistemic, or otherwise) because they are too susceptible to moderating external variables, such as mood modulators, ambient sensibilia, and social expectation signaling. We here draw on both of these literatures to formulate two novel views – the embedded and extended character hypotheses – according to which the vehicles of not just mental states but longer-lasting, wider-ranging, and normatively-evaluable agentic dispositions are sometimes located partially beyond the confines of the agent’s skin.

Download options


External links

  • This entry has no external links. Add one.
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library


Added to PP

591 (#14,796)

6 months
27 (#33,125)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

References found in this work

No references found.

Add more references

Similar books and articles

The Extended Self.Eric T. Olson - 2011 - Minds and Machines 21 (4):481-495.
Two Versions of the Extended Mind Thesis.Katalin Farkas - 2012 - Philosophia 40 (3):435-447.
A Partial Defense of Extended Knowledge.Berit Brogaard - 2014 - Philosophical Issues 24 (1):39-62.
Extended Cognition and the Metaphysics of Mind.Zoe Drayson - 2010 - Cognitive Systems Research 11 (4):367-377.
Dispositions, Character, and the Value of Acts.Bradford Cokelet - 2015 - In Christian Miller, R. Michael Furr, Angela Knobel & William Fleeson (eds.), Character: New Perspectives in Psychology, Philosophy, and Theology. Oxford University Press. pp. 233-250.
Ten Questions Concerning Extended Cognition.Robert A. Wilson - 2014 - Philosophical Psychology 27 (1):19-33.
Sketch This: Extended Mind and Consciousness Extension.Victor Loughlin - 2013 - Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 12 (1):41-50.
Patrolling the Mind’s Boundaries.Daniel A. Weiskopf - 2008 - Erkenntnis 68 (2):265 - 276.
How to Understand the Extended Mind.Sven Bernecker - 2014 - Philosophical Issues 24 (1):1-23.