Trouble in d-cog land
Matt Brown has a short article on d-cog at the Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective. It's something between a critical notice and a blog post, I guess.
Brown's aim, narrowly, is to engage Ron Giere's claim that distributed cognition counts as cognitive in virtue of having individual doxastic states among its outputs. His argument, by way of Wilfred Sellars and Paul Churchland, is to argue that the model of individual doxastic states itself elides all the material and social distribution that necessarily contribute to doxastic states.
In my own work, I've argued for a thin conception of d-cog according to which "an activity is d-cog if (1) the task is such that it would count as cognition if it were carried out entirely in a single mind or brain, and (2) the process by which the task is carried out is not enclosed within the boundary of a single organism."
Brown's argument seems to open up this objection to my conception: Belief and knowledge are never and could never be entirely in a single mind or brain. As such, it seems false that they would "would count as cognition if... carried out entirely in a single mind or brain". At best, it's undefined as to whether they would.
I find both my own conception and Brown's argument plausible. I'm not sure how to resolve this.
Mon 22 Jun 2015 10:13 AM
from: Matt Brown
I think that there are two plausible conceptions on the table here, and the way to resolve which is preferable is mainly empirical and conceptual fruitfulness in ongoing research. I find Hutchins' historical argument for the more radical conception very powerful, but only as a reason to pursue research along those lines.
Mon 22 Jun 2015 10:36 AM