Monday, December 10, 2012

Canadian scientists create a functioning, virtual brain |

Chris Eliasmith has spent years contemplating how to build a brain.
He is about to publish a book with instructions, which describes the grey matter’s architecture and how the different components interact.
“Then I thought the only way people are going to believe me is if I demonstrate it,” says the University of Waterloo neuroscientist.
So Eliasmith’s team built Spaun, which was billed Thursday as “the world’s largest simulation of a functioning brain.”

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Extraterrestrial Cognition and Sensoria Fiction

Calling all Hammerheads!
Dear Hammerheads,

For a Philosophy & SciFi class I'm piloting spring semester, I'm seeking recommendations of sci fi, preferably short, that depicts either extraterrestrial cognition or extraterrestrial phenomenology.

What's good? Whatchoogot?



Saturday, November 10, 2012

Strawson and Evans Videos on Truth

Oxford philosophers P F Strawson and Gareth Evans talk about Truth, in 1973.

Part 1 of 2:

Part 2 of 2:

Friday, November 2, 2012

Special issue on Embodied Social Cognition

Phenomenology and the Cognitive SciencesVolume 11 Number 4 

In this issue:
Introduction to debates on embodied social cognition
Shannon Spaulding
Abstract    Full text HTML    Full text PDF

Implicit mindreading and embodied cognition
J. Robert Thompson
Abstract    Full text HTML    Full text PDF

On the role of social interaction in social cognition: a mechanistic alternative to enactivism
Mitchell Herschbach
Abstract    Full text HTML    Full text PDF

Unlikely allies: embodied social cognition and the intentional stance
Tadeusz Wieslaw Zawidzki
Abstract    Full text HTML    Full text PDF

Action, mindreading and embodied social cognition
Joshua Shepherd
Abstract    Full text HTML    Full text PDF

Embodying the False-Belief Tasks
Michael Wilby
Abstract    Full text HTML    Full text PDF

Dynamic Embodied Cognition
Leon C. de Bruin & Lena Kästner
Abstract    Full text HTML    Full text PDF

Mirror systems and simulation: a neo-empiricist interpretation
John Michael
Abstract    Full text HTML    Full text PDF

Reenactment: an embodied cognition approach to meaning and linguistic content
Sergeiy Sandler
Abstract    Full text HTML    Full text PDF

Gestural sense-making: hand gestures as intersubjective linguistic enactments
Elena Cuffari
Abstract    Full text HTML    Full text PDF

Friday, October 19, 2012

cfp: Fifth Online Consciousness Conference

I am pleased to announce the call for papers for the Fifth Online Consciousness Conference, which is scheduled for February 15-March 1, 2013.
Invited talk by Daniel C. Dennett, Tufts University
Special Session on Self-Consciousness organized by John Schwenkler, Mount St. Mary’s University. Invited participants include Katja Crone and Joel Smith. This session will also include two submitted talks by graduate students or recent PhDs. If you want your paper to be considered specifically for this special session please indicate so in your submission email.
Papers in any area of consciousness studies are welcome (construed widely so as to include philosophy of mind and philosophy of cognitive science, as well as the cognitive sciences) and should be roughly 3,000-4,000 words. Submissions made suitable for blind review should be sent to by January 5th 2013.
For papers that are accepted, an audio/visual presentation (e.g. narrated powerpoint or video of talk) is strongly encouraged but not required.
Program Committee:
Richard Brown
David Chalmers
Adam Pautz
Susanna Siegel
For more information visit the conference website at

Jerry Fodor interviewed

Jerry Fodor gets the Richard Marshall treatment at 3am Magazine:

"JF: I’m increasingly unconvinced that the fuss about consciousness being the `hard problem’ has the stick by the right end. Consciousness is itself an intensional state; you can’t be just conscious tout court; if you are conscious at all, there must be something you are conscious of; and this `of’ is intensional and exhibits the usual substitution ambiguities. This is to say that the familiar claim (see eg. Searle) that materialist theories of intentionality beg the problem of consciousness gets things back to front. Still, even if, as I rather suppose, consciousness turns out to be more or less the same thing as attention, the questions about sensory content (`qualia’ ) have to be faced; but it’s at best unclear that they bear much on theories of cognition."

Friday, October 12, 2012

Mindfulness Meditation and Autonomy: A Buddhist Theory of Free Will by Rick Repetti

[T]he 'hard' metaphysical problem of free will may be explained in simple, metaphysically 'easy' causal/functional terms as a product of the mechanics of metacognitive mental causation: There seems to be a causal connection between the extent to which the mind can "go meta-", or loop back in reflectively on its own processes (e.g., think about its thoughts, prefer its desires, etc.), and self-regulation (autonomy, free will), evident in sensory-motor agility, biofeedback, and a host of related phenomena of an equally mundane nature.
The present research explores two new directions to this line of thought: (1) the extent to which mindfulness and other meditation practices increase self-regulation or autonomy, and (2) the extent to which one may develop a cogent version of a Buddhist theory of free will based on these ideas.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Jacob Berger, Do We Conceptualize Every Color We Consciously Discriminate? | PhilPapers

Jacob Berger, Do We Conceptualize Every Color We Consciously Discriminate? | PhilPapers:
Mandik (2012) understands color-consciousness conceptualism to be the view that one deploys in a conscious qualitative state concepts for every color consciously discriminated by that state. Some argue that the experimental evidence that we can consciously discriminate barely distinct hues that are presented together but cannot do so when those hues are presented in short succession suggests that we can consciously discriminate colors that we do not conceptualize. Mandik maintains, however, that this evidence is consistent with our deploying a variety of nondemonstrative concepts for those colors and so does not pose a threat to conceptualism. But even if Mandik has shown that we deploy such concepts in these experimental conditions, there are cases of conscious states that discriminate colors but do not involve concepts of those colors. Mandik’s arguments sustain only a theory in the vicinity of conceptualism: The view that we possess concepts for every color we can discriminate consciously, but need not deploy those concepts in every conscious act of color discrimination.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

What's Tye's beef with Dennett?

There's a lot that I like about both Michael Tye's and Daniel Dennett's views on consciousness, so it's a bit of a bummer to read Tye's statements against Dennett in Richard Marshall's recent interview of Tye for 3am magazine. Of Dennett's "Quining Qualia" (one of my all-time favorite papers), Tye says:
...the most charitable way to read him is as holding that experiences themselves are dispositions to believe various things. So, there are no experiences or qualia, conceived of as non-epistemic, non-belief-laden entities. This view seems obviously mistaken...
I don't know, but if it is mistaken it doesn't strike me as obviously so. It also strikes me as significantly similar to Tye's own view. A notion of "poise" plays a key role in Tye's theory of phenomenal character, and I have a hard time reading poise as being anything other than a dispositional property, specifically, a disposition related to belief. Here's Tye describing his own view in the interview:
A mental state has phenomenal character just in case it is appropriately poised (a functional role condition) and it nonconceptually represents a complex of properties.
What representations have to do to get to be experiences, on my view, is that they have to arise at the right level in the information processing. They have to be available to cognitive processes in the right sort of way. They have to be appropriately ‘poised’. Your visual experience of the computer screen before you and its properties is the evidential basis for your belief that there is a computer screen ahead and a whole host of related beliefs.
I'm guessing that Dennett's reaction to that wouldn't be "that's obviously mistaken" but instead "sounds pretty good to me". So what's the rift, here? I'm not seeing it. First-order representationalists about phenomenal character, can't we all get along?

Thursday, October 4, 2012

9th International Symposium of Cognition, Logic and Communication


9th International Symposium of Cognition, Logic and Communication

PERCEPTION AND CONCEPTS 16-18 May 2013, Riga, Latvia.

INVITED ORGANIZERS: Edouard Machery (Pittsburgh) and Jesse Prinz (CUNY)

INVITED SPEAKERS include: Ruth Millikan (Connecticut), Fiona Macpherson (Glasgow), David Chalmers (ANU/NYU), Alex Byrne (MIT), Andy Clark (Edinburgh), Diane Pecher (Rotterdam), Ophelia Deroy (London), Rob Goldstone (Indiana), Pierre Jacob (Institut Jean Nicod), Casey O'Callaghan (Rice), Alva Noe (UC, Berkeley) 

We will be particularly interested in the following questions. To focus first on concepts, could it be that, when we entertain a concept in thought, we are in fact entertaining and manipulating perceptual representations? Are concepts entirely different from perceptual representations? Does acquiring a concept consist in abstracting a representation from one’s percepts? If not, what is the relation between percepts and concepts? To turn now to perception, can our perceptual experiences be influenced, or penetrated, by one’s concepts and beliefs? If so, what is the exact nature of the influence of higher cognition on perception? Does the content of perceptual experiences depend on which concepts which one has? Can one even perceive without concepts?

Submitted papers should have a maximum of 3000 words and should be accompanied by a 200 words abstract. All submitted papers should be PREPARED FOR BLIND REVIEW, and should be sent electronically with 'Paper Riga 2013' as a subject to:

DEADLINE FOR SUBMISSION IS 15 JANUARY 2013. Authors will be notified in LATE JANUARY 2013.

Symposium proposal:

In addition to individual papers, the scientific committee will be considering proposals for symposia. Symposia should include a minimum of three and a maximum of four contributions. Submissions should be clearly identified with the heading “Symposium proposal” and include:1) The title of the symposium, 2) A brief description of the topic and its relevance to the conference (200 words), 3) The name, affiliation and academic status (student, lecturer, assistant professor, etc.) of each participant, 4) The title of each contribution as well as an extended 500-1000 word abstract. 5) The name, affiliation and academic status of the person who will be chairing the symposium. Symposium proposals should be sent electronically with 'Symposium Riga 2013' as a title to:

DEADLINE FOR SUBMISSION IS 15 JANUARY 2013. Authors will be notified in LATE JANUARY 2013.

Frontiers in Human Neuroscience | Research Topics

Frontiers in Human Neuroscience | Research Topics

Examining Subjective Experience: Advances in Neurophenomenology

Hosted By:
Wendy HasenkampMind and Life Institute, USA 
Evan ThompsonUniversity of Toronto, Canada 

Deadline for abstract submission: 12 Dec 2012
Deadline for full article submission: 17 Apr 2013

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Contemporary Philosophy of Mind and Buddhist Thought - Spackman - 2012 - Philosophy Compass - Wiley Online Library

Contemporary Philosophy of Mind and Buddhist Thought - Spackman - 2012 - Philosophy Compass - Wiley Online Library:
AbstractRecent years have seen a growing interest in Buddhist thought as a potential source of alternative conceptions of the nature of the mind and the relation between the mental and the physical. This article considers and assesses three different models of what contemporary philosophy of mind can learn from Buddhist thought. One model, advocated by Alan Wallace, holds that we can learn from Buddhist meditation that both individual consciousness and the physical world itself emerge from a deeper, “primordial” consciousness. A second model, supported by Owen Flanagan, maintains that we should accept from Buddhist thought only what is compatible with physicalism, and thus draws from Buddhism only insights into moral psychology and spirituality. Evan Thompson has developed a third, phenomenological approach, which derives from Buddhism a non-dualistic account of the relation between the mental and the physical, dissolving the “explanatory gap” between them. I suggest that all of these models face significant challenges, and propose a different model derived from the Buddhist philosopher Nāgārjuna, which shows the potential to resolve some of the challenges facing contemporary theories of consciousness.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Mandik Blog Roundup, Sept. 2012 edition

Besides blogging here at Brain Hammer, I'm also blogologizing all over these bloggy bits of the blogosphere:

This Is Philosophy of Mind (
A companion blog for the book This Is Philosophy of Mind: An Introduction by Pete Mandik, forthcoming from Wiley-Blackwell Publishers.

Alternate Minds (
Cognitive Science Fiction and Philosophy.

Punctate Mind (
Art snips.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Ask Brain Hammer: Singular Content

If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a brain.

Dear Pete,
Please can you help! What is 'singular content'.  As in perception is receptive to the nature of particular things and so acquires 'singular content'; imagination lacks 'singular content'
I don't understand. Can you please clear this one piece of terminology for me?
Best wishes,

First, consider different contents of thoughts.
1. Thoughts with general content about apples:
Thinking that apples are good to eat. Thinking that apples are larger
than strawberries.
2. Thoughts with singular content--thoughts concerning a particular apple.
Thinking that this apple has a worm in it. Thinking that the last
apple I ate made me feel a little sick.

Now, consider a seeming fact about perception:
Two twins, each looking at a distinct, though highly similar apple,
are each perceiving a different particular apple. Each percept concerns just
one apple (and so is singular) instead of apples in general or in the
abstract (and so is not general).

Contrast perception with imagination. Imagine a tiny purple elephant
walking on top of an apple.

Now, is there some particular, actual apple that your imagination
concerns? No, not necessarily. In this sense, then, imagination lacks
the singular content that perception (allegedly) has.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

CFP: SSPP 2013

Call for Philosophy Papers
The Southern Society for Philosophy and Psychology announces a call for papers for its One Hundred and Fifth Annual Meeting, to be held February 28 – March 2, 2013 in Austin, TX. SSPP meetings feature concurrent programs in Philosophy and Psychology, as well as plenary sessions jointly sponsored by the Philosophy and Psychology Program Committees. The deadline for all submissions is October 15, 2012.
President’s Invited Speaker:
Patricia Smith Churchland
UC San Diego/Salk Institute, San Diego
Invited Speakers:
Austen Clark, University of Connecticut
Fred Dretske, Duke University
Michael Tye, University of Texas, Austin
Invited Symposia:
Epistemology of Perception
Jack Lyons
Susanna Siegel
Owen Flanagan
Steven Horst
New Perspectives on Type Identity
Alyssa Ney
Thomas Polger
Introspection & Self-Knowledge
Peter Carruthers
Brie Gertler
Eric Schwitzgebel
Attention! (Joint Symposium)
Marisa Carrasco
Robert Kentridge
Christopher Mole
Sebastian Watzl
Epistemic Paradoxes
Krista Lawlor
Roy Sorensen
Michael Veber
The Philosophy Program Committee encourages the submission of papers and symposium proposals. Their selection will be based on quality and relevance to Philosophy, Psychology, and other sciences of the mind. The aim of the committee is to present a program as balanced as the quality of submissions in each area permits.
Submissions exceeding 3,000 words will not be considered. Submissions should include a word count and an abstract of no more than 150 words. Self-reference should be deleted to permit blind reviewing. All papers submitted and presented should employ gender-neutral language. All submissions must be made using our online submission system at:
Under the Keywords section, in addition to descriptions of the submission, please include any of the following if they are applicable: To volunteer to be a session chair: ‘Chair.’ To comment on a paper: ‘Comment.’ To be considered for a Graduate Student Travel Award: ‘GSTA.’ To be considered for the Griffith Prize: ‘Griffith.’ For details and eligibility see:
Please direct Philosophy Program related questions to the Program Chair, Rik Hine at:

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Richard Brown interview in 3:am magazine

Shombies vs Zombies � 3:AM Magazine: Richard Brown interviewed by Richard Marshall. It's a Richard-palooza!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Everything's Analytic

Everything's Analytic by Quiet Karate Reflex

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Consciousness and Computation � Philosophy Sucks!

Consciousness and Computation � Philosophy Sucks!: 2012 marks 100 years since the birth of Alan Turing. Saturday June 23rd is the actual centenary. That weekend also happens to be pride week in nyc. Given this line up of the Celestial Signs, The New York Consciousness Collective invites you to the Lower East side of Manhattan to let your freak flag fly in honor of Alan Turing. The event is free and features music from cognitive scientists and philosophers!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Broken Koans and other Zen debris

From Broken Koans and other Zen debris

One of my faves:
One afternoon a student said "Roshi, I don't really understand what's going on. I mean, we sit in zazen and we gassho to each other and everything, and Felicia got enlightened when the bottom fell out of her water-bucket, and Todd got enlightened when you popped him one with your staff, and people work on koans and get enlightened, but I've been doing this for two years now, and the koans don't make any sense, and I don't feel enlightened at all! Can you just tell me what's going on?"
"Well you see," Roshi replied, "for most people, and especially for most educated people like you and I, what we perceive and experience is heavily mediated, through language and concepts that are deeply ingrained in our ways of thinking and feeling. Our objective here is to induce in ourselves and in each other a psychological state that involves the unmediated experience of the world, because we believe that that state has certain desirable properties. It's impossible in general to reach that state through any particular form or method, since forms and methods are themselves examples of the mediators that we are trying to avoid. So we employ a variety of ad hoc means, some linguistic like koans and some non-linguistic like zazen, in hopes that for any given student one or more of our methods will, in whatever way, engender the condition of non-mediated experience that is our goal. And since even thinking in terms of mediators and goals tends to reinforce our undesirable dependency on concepts, we actively discourage exactly this kind of analytical discourse."
And the student was enlightened.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Role of Meditation in Brain Development Gains Scientific Support -

Role of Meditation in Brain Development Gains Scientific Support -
The role that meditation plays in brain development has been the subject of several theories and a number of studies. One of them, conducted at the Laboratory of Neuro Imaging at the University of California, Los Angeles, found that long-term meditators like Ms. Splain had greater gyrification — a term that describes the folding of the cerebral cortex, the outermost part of the brain.
Published in the Frontiers in Human Neuroscience journal in February, the study is the latest effort from the U.C.L.A. lab to determine the extent to which meditation may affect neuroplasticity — the ability of the brain to make physiological changes. Previous studies found that the brains of long-term meditators had increased amounts of so-called gray and white matter (the former is believed to be involved in processing information; the latter is thought of as the “wiring” of the brain’s communication system.)

Don't Think (Image by Tom Hingston Studio)

ht: Changethethought™

Friday, May 4, 2012

Mandik papers updates

Some updates on my philosophy papers webpage:

Conscious-state Anti-realism. (in press). In: Munoz-Suarez, C. and De Brigard, F. Content and Consciousness 2.0. Berlin: Springer.
Daniel Dennett's career-spanning work on consciousness culminates in a view that some critics see as denying the very existence of consciousness. While I think it correct to regard Dennett as an anti-realist of sorts about consciousness, his anti-realism is more akin to idealism than a version of consciousness nihilism or eliminativism. Dennett's anti-realism about consciousness is what Dennett calls "first-person operationalism," a thesis that "brusquely denies the possibility in principle of consciousness of a stimulus in the absence of the subject's belief in that consciousness" (Dennett, 1991, p. 132). One of Dennett's most famous arguments toward this conclusion appeals to the alleged empirical underdetermination of theory-choice between "Stalinesque" and "Orwellian" explanations of certain temporal anomalies of conscious experience (pp. 115-126). The explanations conflict over whether the anomalies are due to misrepresentations in memories of experiences (Orwellian) or misrepresentations in the experiences themselves (Stalinesque). David Rosenthal (1995, 2005a, 2005b) has offered that his Higher-order Thought theory of consciousness (hereafter, "HOT theory") can serve as a basis for distinguishing between Orwellian and Stalinesque hypotheses and thus as a basis for resisting first-person operationalism (hereafter, "FPO"). The gist of HOT theory is that one's having a conscious mental state consists in one having a higher-order thought (a HOT) about that mental state. (Such a HOT must also not be apparently arrived at via a conscious inference, but this further constriction on the HOTs that matter for consciousness is of little importance to the present paper.) I'll argue that HOT theory can defend against FPO only on a "relational reading" of HOT theory whereby consciousness consists in a relation between a HOT and an actually-existing mental state. I’ll argue further that this relational reading leaves HOT theory vulnerable to objections such as the Unicorn Argument (Mandik, 2009). To defend against such objections, HOT theory must instead admit of a "nonrelational reading" whereby a HOT alone suffices for a conscious state. Indeed, HOT theorists have been increasingly explicit in emphasizing this nonrelational reading(Rosenthal, 2011)(Weisberg, 2011)(Weisberg, 2010). However, I’ll argue, on this reading HOT theory collapses into a version of FPO.

Mental Colors, Conceptual Overlap, and Discriminating Knowledge of Particulars. (2012). Consciousness and Cognition.21(2), 641–643. doi:10.1016/j.concog.2011.06.007
I respond to the separate commentaries by Jacob Berger, Charlie Pelling, and David Pereplyotchik on my paper, "Color-Consciousness Conceptualism." I resist Berger's suggestion that mental colors ever enter consciousness without accompaniment by deployments of concepts of their extra-mental counterparts. I express concerns about Pelling's proposal that a more uniform conceptualist treatment of phenomenal sorites can be gained by a simple appeal to the partial overlap of the extensions of some concepts. I question the relevance to perceptual consciousness of the arguments for demonstrative concepts that Pereplyotchik attacks.

Color-Consciousness Conceptualism.(2012). Consciousness and Cognition, 21(2), 617–631. doi:10.1016/j.concog.2010.11.010
The goal of the present paper is to defend against a certain line of attack the view that conscious experience of color is no more fine-grained that the repertoire of non- demonstrative concepts that a perceiver is able to bring to bear in perception. The line of attack in question is an alleged empirical argument - the Diachronic Indistinguishability Argument (DIA) - based on pairs of colors so similar that they can be discriminated when simultaneously presented but not when presented across a memory delay. My aim here is to show that this argument fails.

Behaviorism, Philosophical Conceptions of. (in press) Encyclopedia of Philosophy and the Social Sciences. In: Kaldis, B. (ed.) Encyclopedia of Philosophy and the Social Sciences. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

zen music

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Churchland's challenge

Churchland's challenge: "show me one example where 20th century conceptual analysis laid a foundational plank for any empirical science"
Patricia Churchland, from the Richard Marshall interview in 3:AM Magazine.

Sunday, April 8, 2012


Sky Teeth MandalaMagma MandalaSea Ape MandalaTelevision Implant Mandala

Mandalas, a set on Flickr.
A new flickr set: Mandalas by Mandik.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Live at The Local 269 | Space Clamps

New York neuro-rockers the Space Clamps have an album out collecting live recordings from a recent gig at the Local 269. Check it out here: Live at The Local 269 | Space Clamps. (The cover art is my painting, Alien Artifact.)

The Space Clamps, along with other members of the New York Consciousness Collective (including a band I'm in, Quiet Karate Reflex) are playing this Tuesday at the Local 269. Show starts at 8pm.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Call for Presentations: Envisioning Transhumanity

Envisioning Transhumanity

TEDx Del Mar
A Transhuman Studies Conference on the Future of Minds, Bodies and Societies
April 29th, 2012 at the Price Center Theater, University of California, San Diego
All Welcome (parking free)

Call for Presentations:
Abstracts due April 8th, Confirmation of Acceptance before April 11th.
We will discuss the promise and consequences of technologies which will augment and radically transform our minds, bodies, and cultures. These technologies range from visor cellphones, through more intimate cyborg interfaces, across biotech, and to in-silico life. Many see these transformations as inevitable outcomes of accelerating technological development and global market conditions. This conference aims to go deeper than the shiny veneer of hype, to investigate the scientific states-of-art, ethical and existential ramifications, and socio-economic consequences of human enhancement technologies. We are interested in both local short-term effects and broad, longer term questions.

Confirmed speakers include:
David Brin, PhD--Award winning science fiction author &
David Pearce--Philosopher and co-founder of Humanity+

We have many submissions, but are seeking more, and are taking suggestions for a panel discussion. Editors welcome all relevant submissions. If in doubt, submit. We are, however, especially interested in presentations on the following topics:
--Economics of human-enhancement: E.g. How will increases in productivity, new artificial variation in intelligence, new management techniques, the widespread use of avatars, and the distribution of enhancement technologies affect current and future financial markets and the world socio-economic condition?
--Bio-conservative arguments: E.g. What are the strongest arguments against human augmentation? Are there practical programs to prevent it? Are there risks overlooked?
--Guidance and activism: E.g. To what degree do the market forces driving transhuman change diverge from the ends we ought to desire? What are transhuman goals? How can we guide these transformations to optimize well-being and freedom?
--The near and current cyborg world: E.g. How effective is life-logging? How good are the best happiness, intelligence and fitness improvement apps? What is the current state and what are the prospects for physical and mental health enhancement technologies? What are the short term prospects for developing human potential and improving quality of life in San Diego for all groups, especially the worst-off?
--New technologies: E.g. What's next? What will be the order of development of human enhancement technologies, for much depends on this? What are the technical limits of augmentation? What are the limits and prospects for cognitive, emotive, and empathetic augmentation?
--Ethics and safety of particular technologies: E.g. What kinds of privacy rules should govern cellphone visors, can there be limits preventing users from transforming the appearance of others, how are children to be safely hybridized with cyborg technologies, what risks or better forms of life arise if individuality blurs when populations of cyborgs interconnect?
--Aging as pathology: E.g. To what degree is it appropriate to treat aging as a single pathology? What are the prospects for life-extension, the costs, the availability, the state of the science of gene-therapy and pre-natal anti-aging interventions?
Send abstracts for 20-25 minute talks and CV or bio-sketch to
John Jacobson, Chair, PhD Candidate in Philosophy at UCSD and Collaborator at Salk Institute
Jamie Dunbaugh, Organizer, Founder of San Diego Transhumanists

Friday, March 30, 2012

CFP: Distributed cognition and memory research

CFP: Distributed cognition and memory research: How do distributed memory
systems work?

Special issue of the Review of Philosophy and Psychology

Guest editors: Kourken Michaelian and John Sutton

Call for Papers

Deadline for submissions: July 15, 2012

According to the extended mind hypothesis in philosophy of cognitive
science and the related distributed cognition hypothesis in cognitive
anthropology, remembering does not always occur entirely inside the
brain, but can also be distributed across heterogeneous systems
combining neural, bodily, social, and technological resources. Much of
the critical debate on these ideas in philosophy has so far remained
at some distance from relevant empirical studies. But claims about
extended mind and distributed cognition, if they are to deserve wider
acceptance, must both make sense of and, in turn, inform work in the
cognitive and social sciences. Is the notion of extended or
distributed remembering consistent with the findings of empirical
memory research? Can such a view of memory usefully inform empirical
work, suggesting further areas of productive enquiry or helping to
make sense of existing findings?

This special issue will bring together supporters and critics of
extended and distributed cognition, to consider memory as a test case
for evaluating and further developing these hypotheses. Submitted
papers should thus address both memory and distributed cognition/
extended mind: ideally, papers should aim simultaneously to make
contributions to relevant debates in both philosophy and psychology or
other relevant empirical fields. While primarily theoretical papers
are welcome, they should make direct contact with empirical findings.
Similarly, while empirically-oriented papers might draw on evidence
from a range of areas, including the cognitive psychology of
transactive memory and collaborative recall, cognitive anthropology
and cognitive ethnography, science studies and the philosophy of
science, the history of memory practices, and the cognitive
archaeology of material culture, they should seek to advance the
theoretical debate over extended mind and distributed cognition,
rather than simply presenting findings from these fields.

Potential topics include (but are not limited to):

Relations between biological memory and external memory

How do forms of representation and storage in neural and external
memory differ, and why do such differences matter? Can theories of
distributed cognition deal with the existence of multiple memory
systems? For example, does the expert deployment of exograms in
certain external symbol systems affect working memory? How might the
development and operation of distributed memory systems affect neural
memory processes? Is evidence for neuroplasticity relevant for
assessing claims about distributed remembering? Given plausible links
between memory and self, what might distributed memory systems imply
about identity and agency? What happens when distributed memory
systems fail or break down?

How do distributed memory systems work?

What is socially distributed remembering, and does it offer any
support to revived ideas about group cognition, or to a naturalized
understanding of collective memory? Can theories of extended or
distributed cognition encompass socially distributed remembering in
addition to artifacts and other forms of memory scaffolding? What are
the implications of experimental studies of collaborative recall and
transactive memory for theories of distributed cognition? How do such
theories deal with memory practices and rituals, and with the roles of
the non-symbolic material environment?

Distributed memory and embodied cognition

How central in theories of extended or distributed memory should be
the study of skill acquisition and of expertise in the deployment of
external resources? What accounts of embodied skills, procedural
memory, and smooth or absorbed coping are required to support such
theories? How do distributed memory systems work in specific contexts
of embodied interaction, from conversation to music, dance,
performance, and sport?

Guest authors

The issue will include invited articles authored by:

Robert Rupert, University of Colorado (Boulder)
Deborah Tollefsen, University of Memphis, and Rick Dale, University of
California (Merced)
Mike Wheeler, University of Stirling

Important dates

Submission deadline: July 15, 2012

Target publication date: December 15, 2012

How to submit

Prospective authors should register at:
to obtain a login and select Distributed cognition and memory research
as an article type. Manuscripts should be approximately 6,000 words.
Submissions should follow the author guidelines available on the
journal's website.

About the journal

The Review of Philosophy and Psychology (ISSN: 1878-5158; eISSN:
1878-5166) is a peer-reviewed journal published quarterly by Springer
and focusing on philosophical and foundational issues in cognitive
science. The aim of the journal is to provide a forum for discussion
on topics of mutual interest to philosophers and psychologists and to
foster interdisciplinary research at the crossroads of philosophy and
the sciences of the mind, including the neural, behavioural and social
sciences. The journal publishes theoretical works grounded in
empirical research as well as empirical articles on issues of
philosophical relevance. It includes thematic issues featuring invited
contributions from leading authors together with articles answering a
call for paper.

For any queries, please email the guest editors:,