The place of social epistemology within contemporary philosophy, as well as its relation to other academic disciplines, is the topic of an ongoing debate. One camp within that debate holds that social epistemology should be pursued strictly from within the perspective of individualistic analytic epistemology. In contrast, a second camp holds that social epistemology is an interdisciplinary field that should be given priority over traditional analytic epistemology, with the specific aim of radically transforming the latter to fit the results and (...) methodology of the former. We are rather suspicious of this apparent tension, which we believe can be significantly mitigated by paying attention to certain recent advances within philosophy of mind and cognitive science. Accordingly, we attempt to explain how extended knowledge, the result of combining active externalism from contemporary philosophy of mind with contemporary epistemology, can offer an alternative conception of the future of social epistemology. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is to demonstrate that the postulation of irreducible, distributed cognitive systems is necessary for the successful explanatory practice of cognitive science and sociology. Towards this end, and with an eye specifically on the phenomenon of distributed cognition, the debate over reductionism versus emergence is examined from the perspective of Dynamical Systems Theory. The motivation for this novel approach is threefold. Firstly, DST is particularly popular amongst cognitive scientists who work on modelling collective behaviors. Secondly, DST (...) can deliver two distinct arguments in support of the claim that the presence of mutual interactions between group members necessitates the postulation of the corresponding group entity. Thirdly, DST can also provide a succinct understanding of the way group entities exert downward causation on their individual members. The outcome is a naturalist account of the emergent, and thereby irreducible, nature of distributed cognitive systems that avoids the reductionists’ threat of epiphenomenalism, while being well in line with materialism. (shrink)
Cognitive integration is a defining yet overlooked feature of our intellect that may nevertheless have substantial effects on the process of knowledge-acquisition. To bring those effects to the fore, I explore the topic of cognitive integration both from the perspective of virtue reliabilism within externalist epistemology and the perspective of extended cognition within externalist philosophy of mind and cognitive science. On the basis of this interdisciplinary focus, I argue that cognitive integration can provide a minimalist yet adequate epistemic norm of (...) subjective justification: so long as the agent’s belief-forming process has been integrated in his cognitive character, the agent can be justified in holding the resulting beliefs merely by lacking any doubts there was something wrong in the way he arrived at them. Moreover, since both externalist philosophy of mind and externalist epistemology treat the process of cognitive integration in the same way, we can claim that epistemic cognitive characters may extend beyond our organismic cognitive capacities to the artifacts we employ or even to other agents we interact with. This move is not only necessary for accounting for advanced cases of knowledge that is the product of the operation of epistemic artifacts or the interactive activity of research teams, but it can further lead to interesting ramifications both for social epistemology and philosophy of science. (shrink)
The ‘causal-constitution’ fallacy, the ‘cognitive bloat’ worry, and the persisting theoretical confusion about the fundamental difference between the hypotheses of embedded (HEMC) and extended (HEC) cognition are three interrelated worries, whose common point—and the problem they accentuate—is the lack of a principled criterion of constitution. Attempting to address the ‘causal-constitution’ fallacy, mathematically oriented philosophers of mind have previously suggested that the presence of non-linear relations between the inner and the outer contributions is sufficient for cognitive extension. The abstract idea of (...) non-linearity, however, can be easily misunderstood and has, in the past, led to incorrect and counterintuitive conclusions about what may count as part of one’s overall cognitive system. In order to prevent any further mistakes I revisit dynamical systems theory to study the nature of the continuous mutual interactions that give rise to the aforementioned non-linear relations. Moreover, focusing on these interactions will allow us to provide two distinct arguments in support of the ontological postulation of extended cognitive systems, as well as an objective criterion of constitution. Accordingly, I put forward a version of HEC that treats continuous mutual interactions (and the resultant non-linear relations) not just as sufficient but also as necessary for cognitive extension. Such a qualified version of HEC may exclude certain alleged cases of cognitive extension where the agent does not mutually interact with his artifacts (e.g., shopping lists and directory services), but it is immune both to the ‘causal-constitution’ fallacy and the ‘cognitive bloat’ worry, and it can be sharply distinguished from HEMC. (shrink)
Internalist approaches to epistemic justification are, though controversial, considered a live option in contemporary epistemology. Accordingly, if ‘active’ externalist approaches in the philosophy of mind—e.g. the extended cognition and extended mind theses—are _in principle_ incompatible with internalist approaches to justification in epistemology, then this will be an epistemological strike against, at least the _prima facie_ appeal of, active externalism. It is shown here however that, contrary to pretheoretical intuitions, neither the extended cognition _nor_ the extended mind theses are in principle (...) incompatible with two prominent versions of epistemic internalism—viz., accessibilism and mentalism. In fact, one possible diagnosis is that pretheoretical intuitions regarding the incompatibility of active externalism with epistemic internalism are symptomatic of a tacit yet incorrect identification of epistemic internalism with epistemic individualism. Thus, active externalism is not in principle incompatible with epistemic internalism per se and does not significantly restrict one’s options in epistemology. (shrink)
Combining active externalism in the form of the extended and distributed cognition hypotheses with virtue reliabilism can provide the long sought after link between mainstream epistemology and philosophy of science. Specifically, by reading virtue reliabilism along the lines suggested by the hypothesis of extended cognition, we can account for scientific knowledge produced on the basis of both hardware and software scientific artifacts. Additionally, by bringing the distributed cognition hypothesis within the picture, we can introduce the notion of epistemic group agents, (...) in order to further account for collective knowledge produced on the basis of scientific research teams. (shrink)
We very often grant that a person can gain knowledge on the basis of epistemic artifacts such as telescopes, microscopes and so on. However, this intuition threatens to undermine virtue reliabilism according to which one knows that p if and only if one’s believing the truth that p is the product of a reliable cognitive belief-forming process; in an obvious sense epistemic artifacts are not parts of one’s overall cognitive system. This is so, unless the extended cognition hypothesis (HEC) is (...) true. According to HEC when parts of the environment become properly coupled to the agent’s brain then they too can be considered constitutive parts of the overall cognitive mechanism—i.e. cognition potentially extends to the world surrounding the agent. Interestingly, HEC and the broader framework of virtue reliabilism share some intriguing similarities, which render these two views mutually supportive. Making these similarities explicit provides a principled account of the way in which our knowledge-conducive cognitive characters may extend beyond our natural cognitive capacities by incorporating epistemic artifacts. (shrink)
The aim of the present paper is to argue that robust virtue epistemology is correct. That is, a complete account of knowledge is not in need for an additional modal criterion in order to account for knowledge-undermining epistemic luck. I begin by presenting the problems facing robust virtue epistemology by examining two prominent counterexamples—the Barney and ‘epistemic twin earth’ cases. After proposing a way in which virtue epistemology can explain away these two problematic cases, thereby, implying that cognitive abilities are (...) also safe, I offer a naturalistic explanation in support of this last claim, inspired by evolutionary epistemology. Finally, I argue that naturalized epistemology should not be thought of as being exclusively descriptive. On the contrary, the evolutionary story I offer in support of the claim that reliability implies safety can provide us with a plausible epistemic norm. (shrink)
Dualism in the Epistemology of Testimony and the Ability Intuition Content Type Journal Article DOI 10.1007/s11406-010-9291-4 Authors Spyridon OrestisPalermos, Department of Philosophy, School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences (PPLS), The University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK Journal Philosophia Online ISSN 1574-9274 Print ISSN 0048-3893.
Philosophy of mind and cognitive science have recently become increasingly receptive to the hypothesis of extended cognition, according to which external artifacts such as our laptops and smartphones can—under appropriate circumstances—feature as material realizers of a person's cognitive processes. We argue that, to the extent that the hypothesis of extended cognition is correct, our legal and ethical theorizing and practice must be updated by broadening our conception of personal assault so as to include intentional harm toward gadgets that have been (...) appropriately integrated. We next situate the theoretical case for extended personal assault within the context of some recent ethical and legal cases and close with critical discussion. (shrink)
Our aim is to provide a topography of the relevant philosophical terrain with regard to the possible ways in which knowledge can be conceived of as extended. We begin by charting the different types of internalist and externalist proposals within epistemology, and we critically examine the different formulations of the epistemic internalism/externalism debate they lead to. Next, we turn to the internalism/externalism distinction within philosophy of mind and cognitive science. In light of the above dividing lines, we then examine first (...) the extent to which content externalism is compatible with epistemic externalism; second, whether active externalism entails epistemic externalism; and third whether there are varieties of epistemic externalism that are better suited to accommodate active externalism. Finally, we examine whether the combination of epistemic and cognitive externalism is necessary for epistemology and we comment on the potential ramifications of this move for social epistemology and philosophy of science. (shrink)
Recent thinking within philosophy of mind about the ways cognition can extend has yet to be integrated with philosophical theories of emotion, which give cognition a central role. We carve out new ground at the intersection of these areas and, in doing so, defend what we call the extended emotion thesis: the claim that some emotions can extend beyond skin and skull to parts of the external world.
The aim of the present thesis is to reconcile two opposing intuitions; one originating from mainstream individualistic epistemology and the other one from social epistemology. In particular, conceiving of knowledge as a cognitive phenomenon, mainstream epistemologists focus on the individual as the proper epistemic subject. Yet, clearly, knowledge-acquisition many times appears to be a social process and, sometimes, to such an extent—as in the case of scientific knowledge—that it has been argued there might be knowledge that is not possessed by (...) any individual alone. In order to make sense of such contradictory claims, I combine virtue reliabilism in mainstream epistemology with two hypotheses from externalist philosophy of mind, viz., the extended and distributed cognition hypotheses. Reading virtue reliabilism along the lines suggested by the hypothesis of extended cognition allows for a weak anti-individualistic understanding of knowledge, which has already been suggested on the basis of considerations about testimonial knowledge: knowledge, many times, has a dual nature; it is both social and individual. Provided, however, the possibility of distributed cognition and group agency, we can go even further by making a case for a robust version of antiindividualism in mainstream epistemology. This is because knowledge may not always be the product of any individual’s cognitive ability and, thereby, not creditable to any individual alone. Knowledge, instead, might be the product of an epistemic group agent’s collective cognitive ability and, thus, attributable only to the group as a whole. Still, however, being able—on the basis of the hypothesis of distributed cognition—to recognize a group as a cognitive subject in itself allows for proponents of virtue reliabilism to legitimately apply their individualistic theory of knowledge to such extreme cases as well. Put another way, mainstream individualistic epistemologists now have the means to make sense of the claim that p is known by S, even though it is not known by any individual alone. (shrink)
To avoid the problem of regress, externalists have put forward defeaters-based accounts of justification. The paper argues that existing proposals face two serious concerns: They fail to accommodate related counterexamples such as Norman the clairvoyant, and, more worryingly, they fail to explain how one can be epistemically responsible in holding basic beliefs—i.e., they fail to explain how basic beliefs can avoid being arbitrary from the agent’s point of view. To solve both of these problems, a new, externalist, defeaters-based account of (...) justification is offered—viz., System Reliabilism. The core message of the view—and the way it deals with both and —is the claim that the justificatory status of justified basic beliefs originates from being the undefeated outputs of a reliable, cognitively integrated system that is capable of defeating them. Simply put, to be candidates for being justified, basic beliefs must be epistemically responsible and to be so they must be undefeated while being defeasible. The paper also offers a detailed, naturalistic analysis of the notion of cognitive integration. This long-due, mechanistic account of cognitive integration is then used to argue that an additional advantage of System Reliabilism is its unique position to account for the as yet unexplained intuition that responsible beliefs are also likely to be true. (shrink)
Extended Cognition examines the way in which features of a subject's cognitive environment can become constituent parts of the cognitive process itself. This volume explores the epistemological ramifications of this idea, bringing together academics from a variety of different areas, to investigate the very idea of an extended epistemology.
Strange inversions occur when things work in ways that turn received wisdom upside down. Hume offered a strangely inverted story about causation, and Darwin, about apparent design. Dennett suggests that a strange inversion also occurs when we project our own reactive complexes outward, painting our world with elusive properties like cuteness, sweetness, blueness, sexiness, funniness, and more. Such properties strike us as experiential causes, but they are really effects—a kind of shorthand for whole sets of reactive dispositions rooted in the (...) nuts and bolts of human information processing. Understanding the nature and origins of that strange inversion, Dennett believes, is thus key to understanding the nature and origins of human experience itself. This paper examines this claim, paying special attention to recent formulations that link that strange inversion to the emerging vision of the brain as a Bayesian estimator, constantly seeking to predict the unfolding sensory barrage. (shrink)
The possibility of extended cognition invites the possibility of extended knowledge. We examine what is minimally required for such forms of technologically extended knowledge to arise and whether existing and future technologies can allow for such forms of epistemic extension. Answering in the positive, we explore some of the ensuing transformations in the ethical obligations and personal rights of the resulting ‘new humans.’.
First, a theoretical background to the volume’s topic, extended epistemology, is provided by a brief outline of its cross-disciplinary theoretical lineage and some key themes. In particular, it is shown how and why the emergence of recent and more egalitarian thinking in the cognitive sciences about the nature of human cognizing and its bounds—viz., the so-called ‘extended cognition’ program, and the related idea of an ‘extended mind’—has important and interesting ramifications in epistemology. Second, an overview is provided of the papers (...) included as chapters in the volume. The sixteen contributions are divided into two categories: those that engage with foundational issues to do with extended epistemology, and those that pursue applications of extended epistemology to new areas of research. (shrink)
This volume explores the epistemology of distributed cognition, the idea that groups of people can generate cognitive systems that consist of all participating members. Can distributed cognitive systems generate knowledge in a similar way to individuals? If so, how does this kind of knowledge differ from normal, individual knowledge?
Two arguments against the compatibility of epistemic internalism and content externalism are considered. Both arguments are shown to fail, because they equivocate on the concept of justification involved in their premises. To spell out the involved equivocation, a distinction between subjective and objective justification is introduced, which can also be independently motivated on the basis of a wide range of thought experiments to be found in the mainstream literature on epistemology. The subjective/objective justification distinction is also ideally suited for providing (...) new insights with respect to central issues within epistemology, including the internalism/externalism debate and the New Evil Demon intuition. (shrink)
Philosophy of mind and cognitive science (e.g., Clark and Chalmers 1998; Clark 2010; Palermos 2014) have recently become increasingly receptive tothe hypothesis of extended cognition, according to which external artifacts such as our laptops and smartphones can—under appropriate circumstances—feature as material realisers of a person’s cognitive processes. We argue that, to the extent that the hypothesis of extended cognition is correct, our legal and ethical theorising and practice must be updated, by broadening our conception of personal assault so as (...) to include intentional harm towards gadgets that have been appropriately integrated. We next situate the theoretical case for extended personal assault within the context of some recent ethical and legal cases and close with some critical discussion. (shrink)
Within contemporary philosophy of mind, it is taken for granted that externalist accounts of meaning and mental content are, in principle, orthogonal to the matter of whether cognition itself is bound within the biological brain or whether it can constitutively include parts of the world. Accordingly, Clark and Chalmers :7–19, 1998) distinguish these varieties of externalism as ‘passive’ and ‘active’ respectively. The aim here is to suggest that we should resist the received way of thinking about these dividing lines. With (...) reference to Brandom’s broad semantic inferentialism, we show that a theory of meaning can be at the same time a variety of active externalism. While we grant that supporters of other varieties of content externalism can deny active externalism, this is not an option for semantic inferentialists: On this latter view, the role of the environment is not ‘passive’ in the sense assumed by the alternative approaches to content externalism. (shrink)
Within contemporary philosophy of mind, it is taken for granted that externalist accounts of meaning and mental content are, in principle, orthogonal to the matter of whether cognition itself is bound within the biological brain or whether it can constitutively include parts of the world. Accordingly, Clark and Chalmers (1998) distinguish these varieties of externalism as ‘passive’ and ‘active’ respectively. The aim here is to suggest that we should resist the received way of thinking about these dividing lines. With reference (...) to Brandom’s (1994; 2000; 2008) broad semantic inferentialism, we show that a theory of meaning can be at the same time a variety of active externalism. While we grant that supporters of other varieties of content externalism (e.g., Putnam 1975 and Burge 1986) can deny active externalism, this is not an option for semantic inferentialists: On this latter view, the role of the environment (both in its social and natural form) is not ‘passive’ in the sense assumed by the alternative approaches to content externalism. (shrink)
In the paper, I distinguish the bottom-up strategy and the intentional stance strategy of analyzing group intentional states, and show that the thesis of distributed group subject of knowledge could be accommodated by either of them. Moreover, I argue that when combined with virtue reliabilism the thesis satisfactorily explains the phenomenon of group knowledge. To justify my argument, in the second part of the paper, I distinguish two accounts of justification pointing to conditions of group knowledge. The first, which I (...) call the belief-centered approach to group intentional states, determines the concept of group belief and group justificatory reason. The second, the process-centered approach represented by S. OrestisPalermos, employs the theory of virtue reliabilism and focuses on the group knowledge-conducive process. In the paper, I argue in favor of the latter as the internalism associated with the former appears to lack sufficient explanatory power. The theory of virtue epistemology runs into considerable difficulties when trying to deal with an extended epistemic subject composed of one individual and her cognitive artifact. In the two last parts of the paper, I consider the most important difficulties and argue that these obstacles are overcome once one adopts an approach combining virtue epistemology and the thesis of distributed group epistemic subject. (shrink)
In this paper, I present an account of group competence that is explicitly framed for cases of epistemic performances. According to it, we must consider group epistemic competence as the group agents’ capacity to produce knowledge, and not the result of the summation of its individual members’ competences to produce knowledge. Additionally, I contend that group competence must be understood in terms of group normative status. To introduce my view, I present Jesper Kallestrup’s denial that group competence involves anything over (...) and beyond the aggregation of individual competences. I have divided my response into two parts. First, I compare two conceptions of competence from Ernest Sosa’s reliabilist virtue epistemology, Thinking about oneself: The place and value of reflection in philosophy and psychology, Springer, 2019) and David Löwenstein’s account of know-how. Second, I take the results from this comparison and apply them to the issue of group know-how, by the hand of OrestisPalermos and Deborah Tollefsen’s twofold approach to the topic Socially extended epistemology, Oxford University Press, 2018). Finally, I return to Kallestrup’s denial to make my point in favour of the conception of genuine group competence as the group normative status to achieve success. (shrink)
In Weaving the Web, Berners-Lee defines Social Machines as biotechnologically hybrid Web-processes on the basis of which, “high-level activities, which have occurred just within one human’s brain, will occur among even larger more interconnected groups of people acting as if the shared a larger intuitive brain”. The analysis and design of Social Machines has already started attracting considerable attention both within the industry and academia. Web science, however, is still missing a clear definition of what a Social Machine is, which (...) has in turn resulted in several calls for a “philosophical engineering” ; Halpin et al. 2010). This paper is a first attempt to respond to this call, by combining contemporary philosophy of mind and cognitive science with epistemology. The idea of philosophical engineering implies that a sufficiently good conception of Social Machines should be of both theoretical and practical advantage. To demonstrate how the present approach can satisfy both objectives it will be used in order to address one of Wikipedia’s most worrying concerns—i.e., the current and ongoing decline in the number of its active contributors. (shrink)
Strong epistemic anti-individualism—i.e., the claim that knowledge can be irreducibly social—is increasingly debated within mainstream and social epistemology. Most existing approaches attempt to argue for the view on the basis of aggregative analyses, which focus on the way certain groups aggregate the epistemic attitudes of their members. Such approaches are well motivated, given that many groups to which we often ascribe group knowledge—such as juries and committees—operate in this way. Yet another way that group knowledge can be generated is on (...) the basis of epistemic collaborations, such as scientific research teams and Transactive Memory Systems. To produce knowledge, epistemic collaborations rely heavily on the mutual interactions of their group members. This is a distinctive feature of epistemic collaborations that renders them resistant to aggregative analyses. To accommodate this kind of group knowledge, the paper combines virtue reliabilism with the hypothesis of distributed cognition in order to introduce the hybrid approach of distributed virtue reliabilism. On this view, beliefs produced by epistemic collaborations entertain positive epistemic standing in virtue of the mutual interactions of their group members; this positive epistemic standing is a collective property; epistemic collaborations qualify as epistemic group agents; collaborative knowledge is a special kind of group knowledge, motivating strong epistemic anti-individualism in a distinctive way. (shrink)
Amongst other methods, political campaigns employ microtargeting, a specific technique used to address the individual voter. In the US, microtargeting relies on a broad set of collected data about the individual. However, due to the unavailability of comparable data in Germany, the practice of microtargeting is far more challenging. Citizens in Germany widely treat social media platforms as a means for political debate. The digital traces they leave through their interactions provide a rich information pool, which can create the necessary (...) conditions for political microtargeting following appropriate algorithmic processing. More specifically, data mining techniques enable information gathering about a people's general opinion, party preferences and other non-political characteristics. Through the application of data-intensive algorithms, it is possible to cluster users in respect of common attributes, and through profiling identify whom and how to influence. Applying machine learning algorithms, this paper explores the possibility to identify micro groups of users, which can potentially be targeted with special campaign messages, and how this approach can be expanded to large parts of the electorate. Lastly, based on these technical capabilities, we discuss the ethical and political implications for the German political system. (shrink)
Mainstream epistemologists have recently made a few isolated attempts to demonstrate the particular ways, in which specific types of knowledge are partly social. Two promising cases in point are Lackey’s dualism in the epistemology of testimony and Goldberg’s process reliabilist treatment of testimonial and coverage-support justification. What seems to be missing from the literature, however, is a general approach to knowledge that could reveal the partly social nature of the latter anytime this may be the case. Indicatively, even though Lackey (...) :345–361, 2007) has recently launched an attack against the Credit Account of Knowledge on the basis of testimony, she has not classified her view of testimonial knowledge into any of the alternative, general approaches to knowledge. Similarly, even if Goldberg’s attempt to provide a process reliabilist explanation of the social nature of testimonial knowledge is deemed satisfactory, his attempt to do the same in the case of coverage-support justification does not deliver the requisite result. This paper demonstrates that CAK can in fact provide, pace Lackey’s renunciation of the view, a promising account of the social nature of both testimonial and coverage-supported knowledge. Additionally, however, it can display further explanatory power by also revealing the social nature of knowledge produced on the basis of epistemic artifacts. Despite their disparities, all these types of knowledge count as partly social in nature, because in all these cases, according to CAK, the epistemic credit for the individual agent’s true belief must spread between the individual agent and certain parts of her epistemic community. Accordingly, CAK is a promising candidate for providing a unified approach to several and, perhaps all possible, instances of what we may call ‘weak epistemic anti-individualism’ within mainstream epistemology: i.e., the claim that the nature of knowledge can occasionally be both social and individual at the same time. (shrink)
In this paper we intend to examine whether there are examples for emergence to be found in physics. The answer depends on the concept of emergence one invokes. We distinguish two such concepts, those of Broad and Kim. We will argue that it is unlikely that there will be examples with respect to the former because it runs counter to an explanatory strategy that is both well entrenched in physical practice and to a certain degree flexible. On the other hand (...) we will argue that all those physical systems that provide an example for supervenience are at the same time examples for emergence - at least if one defines emergence the way Kim does. (shrink)
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