Group minds as extended minds

Philosophical Explorations 23 (3):1-17 (2020)

Abstract

Despite clear overlap between the study of extended minds and the study of group minds, these research programs have largely been carried out independently. Moreover, whereas proponents of the extended mind thesis straightforwardly advocate the view that there are, literally, extended mental states, proponents of the group mind thesis tend to be more circumspect. Even those who advocate for some version of the thesis that groups are the subjects of mental states often concede that this thesis is true only in some loose or metaphorical sense. I argue that this imbalance is a mistake. A literal interpretation of the group mind thesis is no less plausible than the extended mind thesis, because group minds are particularly defensible instances of extended minds. However, the extended mind thesis, and the view that group minds are extended minds, are defensible only following a revision of the extended mind thesis.

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Keith Raymond Harris
Ruhr-Universität Bochum

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