Extended Social Cognition and Theories of Mind

1. Part (Lyre):

The thesis of Cognitive Extension (TCE) has been widely discussed within recent years in the philosophy of mind community and in the foundations of cognitive neuroscience. Roughly put it is the claim that "the mind doesn't stop at the boundaries of skin and scull" (Andy Clark), but rather extends into the world. TCE gains plausibility from movements like dynamicism, embodiment and situated cognition. What has seldom been considered, however, is the fact that we must distinguish between various levels of extension. This in particular means that we must distinguish between heterogeneous conditions under which extended cognitive coupling can be maintained. The various levels of extension span from dynamical bodily couplings, usage of technological cognitive tools (e.g. written documents, smart phones or Internet) up to social couplings by means of joint attention, shared intentionality and language use in various forms. The talk will focus on the ways in which social cognition skills can be understood as forms of extended cognition.

2. Part (Bukow):

Theory of Mind (ToM) is the capability to generate (to explain and predict) the "right" image of other intentional agents' behavior, thoughts and feelings; further, given the additional capability for metacognition, to reflect oneself as an intentional agent. Traditionally, ToM is considered as a typical human and human-only issue, and it is related to the belief-desire-intentionality picture of agency. However, in the last years several debates have emerged: How is ToM realized? Can there be a ToM-realization in other animals, or a technical ToM-implementation in robots? Are there other structures of agency, e.g. "minimal" ones for small-scale agents; and are these agents capable of serious but limited "minimal" ToM-realizations? This may be interesting in the case of Human-Computer-Interaction (HCI) that relies on the problem to give the user the "right" picture of the machine, and vice versa. The theoretical backgrounds of ToM and its potential for HCI are introduced in the talk - some issues we will explore in the DFG-funded project "Technical Agency - A minimal Theory of Mind".



Prof. Dr. Holger Lyre und Gerhard Chr. Bukow
Institut für Philosophie
Otto-von-Guericke Universität Magdeburg


Montag, 17. Januar, 16h


Otto-von-Guericke-Universität Magdeburg