‘Extended Cognition, Endorsement and Circularity’, by Adam Carter and Jesper Kallestrup

Abstract. The hypothesis of extended cognition (e.g. Clark & Chalmers 1998) has been famously motivated by Clark & Chalmers’ classic ‘extended memory’ case, where the notebook of an Alzheimer’s patient (Otto) is claimed to play the functional role of biologcial memory storage, and accordingly, to be a part of Otto’s extended memorial process. In so far as the hypothesis of extended cognition is to hold water in epistemology, Otto must count as enjoying memory knowledge no less than his counterpart who relies exclusively on a biological brain. It is shown however that it will be difficult to vindicate Otto’s attainment of memory knowledge unless a certain requirement is satisfied: that Otto positively endorse his extended process as reliable. But in light of this requirement, a novel and seemingly malignant variety of epistemic circularity materialises. We consider a range of replies to this kind of ‘extended’ epistemic circularity that infects the classic case of extended cognition.

‘Deferring to Others: How Information is Transmitted Between Individual and Within Group Agents’, by Orestis Palermos

Abstract: The question of how easy it is to differ to another person’s report is an interesting question both from the point of view of mainstream individualistic epistemology and social epistemology. And even though it may admit of an easy response—that the more relevant concepts and knowledge we share with someone the easier it is to defer to their report—following this line of thought to the extremes can have surprising consequences.  Specifically, it predicts that there should be cases where we share enough relevant knowledge with someone such that we can unhesitatingly defer to their view as if it were already our own—cases whereby two or more agents participate in an overall system, in which knowledge between the contributing members flows and transmits freely as if those individuals were parts of a single cognitive system or a group agent.  Pursuing this interesting possibility in terms of the standard debate between reductionism and non-reductionism about testimonial justification and with reference to the so-called ‘transmission thesis’ provides interesting insights about the different functions of testimony and the limits of what we may call testimonial knowledge.

‘Semantic Inferentialism as Active Externalism’,  by Adam Carter, James Collin and Orestis Palermos

Abstract: It is widely taken for granted in the literature on externalism that externalist accounts of meaning and mental content are, in principle, orthogonal to the matter of whether cognition itself is bound within the biological brain or whether it can include parts of the world. Accordingly, Clark and Chalmers (1998) distinguish these varieties of externalism as ‘passive’ and ‘active’ respectively. The aim here is to suggest that we should resist the received way of thinking about these dividing lines; with reference to Brandom (1994) broad semantic inferentialism, we show a theory of meaning can be at the same time a variety of active externalism. While we grant, of course, that content externalists can deny active externalism, we contend that they can’t do so by relying on the received reasoning that theories of meaning are, as such, ‘passive’ in the sense widely assumed.

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