Virtue ethics enjoys new-found attention in philosophy of technology and philosophical psychology. This attention informs the growing realization that virtue has an important role to play in the ethical evaluation of human–technology relations. But it remains unclear which cognitive processes ground such interactions in both their regular and virtuous forms. This paper proposes that an embodied, enactive cognition approach aptly captures the various ways persons and artefacts interact, while at the same time avoiding the explanatory problems its functionalist alternative faces. (...) Inspired by recent discussions in roboethics, the paper departs from the consideration of practical wisdom as a key idea to evaluating human–technology interaction. It then examines a prominent argument against the viability of practical wisdom that proposes a situationist alternative. The examination of this alternative reveals two tensions to be addressed. The first tension is resolved through developing an account of how persons can self-program their practical reasoning through the idea of distal intentions. The second tension is resolved by comparing extended functionalist and enactive accounts of the self, and arguing for the latter when framing our relations with technologies. In developing its proposal, this paper contributes to an enactive account of virtue and practical wisdom that should prove a fertile soil for future ethical debates on human–technology interaction. (shrink)
According to proponents of the extended mind, bio-external resources, such as a notebook or a smartphone, are candidate parts of the cognitive and mental machinery that realises cognitive states and processes. The present chapter discusses three areas of ethical concern associated with the extended mind, namely mental privacy, mental manipulation, and agency. We also examine the ethics of the extended mind from the standpoint of three general normative frameworks, namely, consequentialism, deontology, and virtue ethics.
The extended mind thesis maintains that the functional contributions of tools and artefacts can become so essential for our cognition that they can be constitutive parts of our minds. In other words, our tools can be on a par with our brains: our minds and cognitive processes can literally ‘extend’ into the tools. Several extended mind theorists have argued that this ‘extended’ view of the mind offers unique insights into how we understand, assess, and treat certain cognitive conditions. In this (...) chapter we suggest that using AI extenders, i.e., tightly coupled cognitive extenders that are imbued with machine learning and other ‘artificially intelligent’ tools, presents both new ethical challenges and opportunities for mental health. We focus on several mental health conditions that can develop differently by the use of AI extenders for people with cognitive disorders and then discuss some of the related opportunities and challenges. (shrink)
One goal of this paper is to argue that autobiographical memories are extended and distributed across embodied brains and environmental resources. This is important because such distributed memories play a constitutive role in our narrative identity. So, some of the building blocks of our narrative identity are not brain-bound but extended and distributed. Recognising the distributed nature of memory and narrative identity, invites us to find treatments and strategies focusing on the environment in which dementia patients are situated. A second (...) goal of this paper is to suggest various of such strategies, including lifelogging technologies such as SenseCams, life story books, multimedia biographies, memory boxes, ambient intelligence systems, and virtual reality applications. Such technologies allow dementia patients to remember their personal past in a way that wouldn’t be possible by merely relying on their biological memory, in that way aiding in preserving their narrative identity and positively contributing to their sense of well-being. (shrink)
The first part of this article makes the case that human cognition is an intergenerational project enabled by the inheritance and bequeathal of cognitive technology (Sects. 2–4). The final two sections of the article (Sects. 5 and 6) explore the normative significance of this claim. My case for the intergenerational claim draws results from multiple disciplines: philosophy (Sect. 2), cultural evolutionary approaches in cognitive science (Sect. 3), and developmental psychology and neuroscience (Sect. 4). In Sect. 5, I propose that cognitive (...) technology should be given to future generations in accordance with principles of pluralism and transparency. In the final main section of the article, Sect. 6, I apply these principles to topics such as the preservation of information, environmental offloading of cognition, and thinking itself. (shrink)
Many models of cognitive ability and disability rely on the idea of cognition as abstract reasoning processes implemented in the brain. Research in cognitive science, however, emphasizes the way that our cognitive skills are embodied in our more basic capacities for sensing and moving, and the way that tools in the external environment can extend the cognitive abilities of our brains. This chapter addresses the implications of research in embodied cognition and extended cognition for how we think about cognitive impairment (...) and rehabilitation, how cognitive reserve mitigates neural impairment, and the distinction between medical and social models of disability. (shrink)
Technological artefacts have, in recent years, invited increasingly intimate ways of interaction. But surprisingly little attention has been devoted to how such interactions, like with wearable devices or household robots, shape our minds, cognitive capacities, and moral character. In this thesis, I develop an embodied, enactive account of mind--technology interaction that takes the reciprocal influence of artefacts on minds seriously. First, I examine how recent developments in philosophy of technology can inform the phenomenology of mind--technology interaction as seen through an (...) enactivist lens. Second, I show how an enactive account of remembering can improve operationalizations of the memory palace mnemonic through virtual reality devices. Third, I draw on virtue ethics to argue that an enactivist approach allows us to better grasp the morally shaping aspects of artefacts by looking at social robots. Fourth, I fend off an underlying metaphysical concern about enactivism by arguing that an embodied, enactive account is compatible with the multiple realization of cognitive processes. This principle is often seen as a crucial test favouring accounts such as extended functionalism over enactivism and I argue that some forms of enactivism pass this test as well. Finally, I conclude by considering what the future relationship between enactivism and functionalism may have in store for the study of mind--technology interaction. (shrink)
Extended and distributed cognition theories argue that human cognitive systems sometimes include non-biological objects. On these views, the physical supervenience base of cognitive systems is thus not the biological brain or even the embodied organism, but an organism-plus-artifacts. In this paper, we provide a novel account of the implications of these views for learning, education, and assessment. We start by conceptualising how we learn to assemble extended cognitive systems by internalising cultural norms and practices. Having a better grip on how (...) extended cognitive systems are assembled, we focus on the question: If our cognition extends, how should we educate and assess such extended cognitive systems? We suggest various ways to minimize possible negative effects of extending one’s cognition and to efficiently find and organise (online) information by adopting a virtue epistemology approach. Educational and assessment implications are foregrounded, particularly in the case of Danish students’ use of the Internet during exams. (shrink)
We argue that the notion of "mental institutions"-discussed in recent debates about extended cognition-can help better understand the origin and character of social impairments in autism, and also help illuminate the extent to which some mechanisms of autistic dysfunction extend across both internal and external factors (i.e., they do not just reside within an individual's head). After providing some conceptual background, we discuss the connection between mental institutions and embodied habits of mind. We then discuss the significance of our view (...) for understanding autistic habits of mind and consider why these embodied habits are sometimes a poor fit with neurotypical mental institutions. We conclude by considering how these insights highlight the two-way, extended nature of social impairments in autism, and how this extended picture might assist in constructing more inclusive mental institutions and intervention strategies. (shrink)
Jan G. Michel klärt in seinem Artikel "Vom Transhumanismus zur These des erweiterten Geistes: Ethische Implikationen?" zunächst eine eindeutige These des Transhumanismus, den er als die Position versteht, dass menschliche Personen ihre gegenwärtigen physischen und mentalen Limitationen durch die von den Wissenschaften zur Verfügung gestellten Technologien erweitern können. Im Anschluss daran wendet er sich der in der Philosophie des Geistes und der Kognitionswissenschaft diskutierten sogenannten These des erweiterten Geistes zu und argumentiert, dass entgegen des ersten Eindrucks der für diese Debatte (...) zentrale Begriff nicht derjenige des menschlichen Geistes, sondern der Begriff der Kognition ist, die sich aus Sicht Michels durch externe, technologische Hilfsmittel erweitern lässt, ohne dass dadurch gravierende ethische Implikationen für den Personenstatus impliziert werden. Michel endet mit einer Analyse des für den Transhumanismus oft als zentral angenommenen Begriffs der erweiterten Person und fragt kritisch nach dem semantischen Gehalt dieses Begriffs. (shrink)
Your smartphone is much more than just a phone. It can tell a more intimate story about you than your best friend. No other piece of hardware in history, not even your brain, contains the quality or quantity of information held on your phone: it ‘knows’ whom you speak to, when you speak to them, what you said, where you have been, your purchases, photos, biometric data, even your notes to yourself – and all this dating back years. In this (...) piece I ask whether, given the role they play in our lives, our devices deserve the same legal protections as our brains and bodies? (shrink)
This paper brings together two erstwhile distinct strands of philosophical inquiry: the extended mind hypothesis and the situationist challenge to virtue theory. According to proponents of the extended mind hypothesis, the vehicles of at least some mental states (beliefs, desires, emotions) are not located solely within the confines of the nervous system (central or peripheral) or even the skin of the agent whose states they are. When external props, tools, and other systems are suitably integrated into the functional apparatus of (...) the agent, they are partial bearers of her cognitions, motivations, memories, and so on. According to proponents of the situationist challenge to virtue theory, dispositions located solely within the confines of the nervous system (central or peripheral) or even the skin of the agent to whom they are attributed typically do not meet the normative standards associated with either virtue or vice (moral, epistemic, or otherwise) because they are too susceptible to moderating external variables, such as mood modulators, ambient sensibilia, and social expectation signaling. We here draw on both of these literatures to formulate two novel views – the embedded and extended character hypotheses – according to which the vehicles of not just mental states but longer-lasting, wider-ranging, and normatively-evaluable agentic dispositions are sometimes located partially beyond the confines of the agent’s skin. (shrink)
This article connects philosophical debates about cognitive enhancement and situated cognition. It does so by focusing on moral aspects of enhancing our cognitive abilities with the aid of external artifacts. Such artifacts have important moral dimensions that are addressed neither by the cognitive enhancement debate nor situated cognition theory. In order to fill this gap in the literature, three moral aspects of cognitive artifacts are singled out: their consequences for brains, cognition, and culture; their moral status; and their relation to (...) personal identity. (shrink)
There are various philosophical approaches and theories describing the intimate relation people have to artifacts. In this paper, I explore the relation between two such theories, namely distributed cognition and distributed morality theory. I point out a number of similarities and differences in these views regarding the ontological status they attribute to artifacts and the larger systems they are part of. Having evaluated and compared these views, I continue by focussing on the way cognitive artifacts are used in moral practice. (...) I specifically conceptualise how such artifacts (a) scaffold and extend moral reasoning and decision-making processes, (b) have a certain moral status which is contingent on their cognitive status, and (c) whether responsibility can be attributed to distributed systems. This paper is primarily written for those interested in the intersection of cognitive and moral theory as it relates to artifacts, but also for those independently interested in philosophical debates in extended and distributed cognition and ethics of (cognitive) technology. (shrink)
Alongside existing research into the social, political and economic impacts of the Web, there is a need to study the Web from a cognitive and epistemic perspective. This is particularly so as new and emerging technologies alter the nature of our interactive engagements with the Web, transforming the extent to which our thoughts and actions are shaped by the online environment. Situated and ecological approaches to cognition are relevant to understanding the cognitive significance of the Web because of the emphasis (...) they place on forces and factors that reside at the level of agent–world interactions. In particular, by adopting a situated or ecological approach to cognition, we are able to assess the significance of the Web from the perspective of research into embodied, extended, embedded, social and collective cognition. The results of this analysis help to reshape the interdisciplinary configuration of Web Science, expanding its theoretical and empirical remit to include the disciplines of both cognitive science and the philosophy of mind. (shrink)
In his contribution, Mark Alfano lays out a new (to virtue theory) naturalistic way of determining what the virtues are, what it would take for them to be realized, and what it would take for them to be at least possible. This method is derived in large part from David Lewis’s development of Frank Ramsey’s method of implicit definition. The basic idea is to define a set of terms not individually but in tandem. This is accomplished by assembling all and (...) only the common sense platitudes that involve them (e.g., typically, people want to be virtuous), conjoining those platitudes, and replacing the terms in question by existentially quantified variables. If the resulting sentence is satisfied, then whatever satisfies are the virtues. If it isn’t satisfied, there are a couple of options. First, one could just admit defeat by saying that people can’t be virtuous. More plausibly, one could weaken the conjunction by dropping a small number of the platitudes from it (and potentially adding some others). Alfano suggests that the most attractive way to do this is by dropping the platitudes that deal with cross-situational consistency and replacing them with platitudes that involve social construction: basically, people are virtuous (when they are) at least in part because other people signal their expectations of virtuous conduct, which induces virtuous conduct, which in turn induces further signals of expected virtuous conduct, and so on. (shrink)
Neil Levy offers the most prominent moral principles that are specifically and exclusively designed to apply to neuroethics. His two closely related principles, labeled as versions of the ethical parity principle , are intended to resolve moral concerns about neurological modification and enhancement . Though EPP is appealing and potentially illuminating, we reject the first version and substantially modify the second. Since his first principle, called EPP , is dependent on the contention that the mind literally extends into external props (...) such as paper notebooks and electronic devices, we begin with an examination of the extended mind hypothesis and its use in Levy’s EPP . We argue against reliance on EMH as support for EPP . We turn to his second principle, EPP , which is not dependent on EMH but is tied to the acceptable claim that the mind is embedded in, because dependent on, external props. As a result of our critique of EPP , we develop a modified version of EPP , which we argue is more acceptable than Levy’s principle. Finally, we evaluate the applicability of our version of EPP. (shrink)
The hypothesis of extended cognition supposes that internal and external vehicles of cognition should be understood as being on a cognitive par; I propose that this requires that these vehicles should be treated as being on an ethical par. Further, I propose that the hypothesis entails extended personal identity, which enables us to make claims about the possibility of distributed and extended moral responsibility.
According to a standard view, the physical boundary of the person—the skin-and-skull boundary—matters morally because this boundary delineates between where the person begins and the world ends. On the basis of this view we make a distinction between invasive interventions that penetrate this boundary and non-invasive interventions that do not. The development of neuroprosthetics, however, raises questions about the significance of this boundary and the relationship between person and body. In particular it has been argued by appeal to the Extended (...) Mind thesis that mind and person can extend beyond the body, and hence the skin-and-skull boundary is of questionable significance. In this paper I argue that the Extended Mind thesis is consistent with the ethical relevance of the skin-and-skull barrier. Although it can be argued that cognitive processes and aspect of mind can extend beyond the skin-and-skull boundary as EM claims, it does not follow that the person is also extended beyond this boundary. The moral sense of person is closely related to the notion of person as a subject of experiences and this, in turn, is related to the sensory and somatosensory aspects of the body. The development of neuroprosthetics provides us with reason to see that persons can be variously embodied, but this is consistent with the functional and ethical significance of the skin-and-skull boundary. (shrink)
The Hypothesis of Extended Cognition (HEC)—that many cognitive processes are carried out by a hybrid coalition of neural, bodily and environmental factors—entails that the intentional states that are reasons for action might best be ascribed to wider entities of which individual persons are only parts. I look at different kinds of extended cognition and agency, exploring their consequences for concerns about the moral agency and personal responsibility of such extended entities. Can extended entities be moral agents and bear responsibility for (...) actions, in addition to or in place of the individuals typically held responsible? What does it mean to be autonomous when one’s cognition is influenced and supported by a milieu of environmental factors? To answer these questions, I explore strong parallels between HEC’s critique of individualism in cognition, and feminist critiques of individualist accounts of self, agency, and autonomy. This relational and social conception of autonomous agency, as scaffolded and supported (or undermined and impaired) by a milieu of social, relational, and normative factors, has important lessons for HEC. Drawing together these two visions of distributed and decentralized aspects of personhood highlights how cognition, action, and responsibility are inextricably linked. It also encourages a reconceptualization of all cognition and all concerns about responsibility for actions, not simply as sometimes extended around individuals, but as fundamentally communal, social, and normative, with individual cognition and individual moral responsibility being derivative special cases, not the paradigm examples. Individuals are merely one of many possible loci of cognition, action, and responsibility. (shrink)
The extended mind thesis is the claim that mental states extend beyond the skulls of the agents whose states they are. This seemingly obscure and bizarre claim has far-reaching implications for neuroethics, I argue. In the first half of this article, I sketch the extended mind thesis and defend it against criticisms. In the second half, I turn to its neuroethical implications. I argue that the extended mind thesis entails the falsity of the claim that interventions into the brain are (...) especially problematic just because they are internal interventions, but that many objections to such interventions rely, at least in part, on this claim. Further, I argue that the thesis alters the focus of neuroethics, away from the question of whether we ought to allow interventions into the mind, and toward the question of which interventions we ought to allow and under what conditions. The extended mind thesis dramatically expands the scope of neuroethics: because interventions into the environment of agents can count as interventions into their minds, decisions concerning such interventions become questions for neuroethics. (shrink)
This unpublished article was written around 2009 for a journal special issue of a journal which never materialized. In 2018, the article was rewritten and published in the Oxford Handbook of Philosophy and Disability. It can be found on PhilPapers as Drayson and Clark (2018), 'Cognitive Disability and the Embodied, Extended Mind'.