Perspectives on Social Ontology and Social Cognition (edited with John Michael). Dordrecht: Springer (2014).
Perspectives on Social Ontology and Social Cognition brings together contributions discussing issues arising from theoretical and empirical research on social ontology and social cognition. It is the first comprehensive interdisciplinary collection in this rapidly expanding area. The contributors draw upon their diverse backgrounds in philosophy, cognitive science, behavioral economics, sociology of science and anthropology.
Based largely on contributions to the conference “Objects in Mind”, held at the University of Aarhus in June 2012, the book addresses such questions as: If the reference of concepts like money is fixed by collective acceptance, does it depend on mechanisms that are distinct from those which contribute to understanding the reference of concepts of other kinds of entity? What psychological and neural mechanisms, if any, are involved in the constitution, persistence and recognition of social facts?
Objects in Mind (with John Michael), in Perspectives on Social Ontology and Social Cognition, edited by Mattia Gallotti and John Michael. Dordrecht: Springer (2014).
In this editorial introduction, John and I provide some background to the discussions in social ontology and social cognition which form the context for the papers collected together in Perspectives on Social Ontology and Social Cognition. In doing so, we also briefly sketch how the individual contributions fit together within this broader context.
Why Not the First-Person Plural in Social Cognition?, Behavioral and Brain Sciences 36 (2013), pp. 422-423.
Critics of ‘classic’ theories of mindreading argue that social cognition research can really go social only if it adopts a second-person approach to the problem of interpersonal understanding. There are reasons for being sympathetic with this proposal, but I am concerned with the authors’ attempt to subsume the first-person plural perspective (we) typical of collective intentional phenomena under a no better specified second-person. In fact, the adoption of the we-mode perspective in social cognition is less anti-individualistic than second-person theorists would be willing to accept. This is a commentary paper on the BBS target article “Towards a Second-Person Neuroscience” by Schilbach et al. (2013).
Response to Di Paolo et al.: How, Exactly, Does It ‘Just Happen’? Interaction by Magic (with Chris Frith), Trends in Cognitive Sciences 17 (2013), pp. 304-305.
Social Cognition in the We-Mode (with Chris D. Frith), Trends in Cognitive Sciences 17 (2013), pp. 160-165.
The point of the current ‘interactive turn’ in social cognition is to inject some anti-individualism in a theoretical and empirical paradigm that looks remarkably individualistic. However, the strategy to pursue forms of interactionism such as enactivism produces mixed results. We share the concern of interactionists about the excessively reductionist nature of classic mindreading theories, but we also argue that there is space for an interaction-based account that nevertheless resists radical claims concerning the constitutive role of interaction for (social) cognition. Our proposal is that the significance of interaction for social cognition and agency is best captured by an account of shared intentionality in the ‘we-mode’.
‘Naturalism’ is a term of abuse inside and outside of philosophy. Naturalistically-minded philosophers believe that scientific evidence increases knowledge of the mind in a way that conceptual evidence alone does not. So, what does laboratory evidence tell us about the contents of the mind? According to the authors of Naturalizing Intention in Action, successful naturalization entails some form of externalism (i.e. enactivism) about the mental. In this review I argue that the entailment relation is far from clear, especially when it comes to explaining how the mind is constituted by active features of the environment like (inter)action. This is part of my long-standing interest in the individualism debate.
A Naturalistic Argument for the Irreducibility of Collective Intentionality, Philosophy of the Social Sciences 42 (2012) , pp. 3-30.
When we do something together, people share minds in a way that cannot be fully explained in terms of the individual intentions of the single agents. Hence the question of the conditions under which ‘collective’ intentions are (ir)reducible to the individual intentions of the agents (plus something else: mutual knowledge?). The collective intentionality community has addressed this question as a problem of conceptual analysis. But if you are a committed naturalist of some kind, you should be ready to accept that the irreducibility question is also an empirical question with important implications for the naturalization of collective intentionality, or so I contend. The paper offers a formulation of this argument from my PhD.
Michael Tomasello’s cross-disciplinary investigation of the mechanisms for sharing mental states is perhaps the most influential theory of collective intentionality naturalized. Although there still are some controversial parts, the theory has succeeded to direct scientific attention to phenomena of shared intentionality in ways that economists too might find interesting, in particular when issues of strategic interaction are at stake. This review builds upon my own experience as a visiting scholar in Tomasello’s laboratory back in 2009.