Cognitive Systems Research 9 (1-2):15-23 (2008)

Philip Robbins
University of Missouri, Columbia
Phenomenal consciousness and social cognition are interlocking capacities, but the relations between them have yet to be systematically investigated. In this paper, I begin to develop a theoretical and empirical framework for such an investigation. I begin by describing the phenomenon known as social pain: the affect associated with the perception of actual or potential damage to one’s interpersonal relations. I then adduce a related phenomenon known as affective contagion: the tendency for emotions, moods, and other affective states to spread from person to person in social contexts. Experimental studies of these two phenomena suggest that affective consciousness depends on perception of the social world in much the same way that it depends on perception of the body – in short, that consciousness is ‘socially embodied’. In the second part of the paper I argue that the distinctive sociality of our species, especially its moral dimension, rests heavily on our ability to represent the conscious states of others. In closing, I put these ideas together and show how they point to a circular causal-mechanistic nexus between consciousness and social mindedness.
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A Short Primer on Situated Cognition.Philip Robbins & Murat Aydede - 2009 - In Murat Aydede & P. Robbins (eds.), The Cambridge Handbook of Situated Cognition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 3--10.
Seeing Agents When We Need to, Attributing Experience When We Feel Like It.Ida Hallgren - 2012 - Review of Philosophy and Psychology 3 (3):369-382.

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