Integrative biophilosophy

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Philosophy of Situated Cognition

Project Management: Dr. Mark-Oliver Casper

Collaborators: Giuseppe Flavio Artese, M.Sc.

Funding: Central Research Funding ZFF of the University of Kassel

Duration: September 2019 - anticipated. August 2023

Project description

The philosophy of situated cognition (PSC) deals with the 4E theories. These approaches, also known as extended mind, enactivism, embedded mind, and embodiment theory, have been developed in an interdisciplinary way with significant participation of philosophy in order to explain cognitive phenomena (such as motor control or spatial navigation). With the different theoretical approaches that the 4E spectrum allows, there is also a variance of applied methods as well as different demands on possible explanations of phenomena in question.

The main task of the PSC is the systematic collection as well as the philosophical evaluation of the methods applied in the 4E theories. The aim of the project is to design a comprehensive methodology of the 4E theories that analyzes on which philosophical foundations, with which types of explanations, in which methodological context, and with which methodological means research on the topic of "situated cognition" can be both best realized and interdisciplinarily coordinated. In this regard, the PSC contains descriptive parts, describing what researchers on the topic of 4E are doing de facto, and normative parts, describing what these researchers should change or do to improve their research.

Like integrative biophilosophy, which is devoted to, among other things, the methodological analysis of biological research programs (as, for example, in the analysis of behavioral research), PSC pursues such an analysis for situated cognition research. The PSC draws in part on prior biophilosophical work for this analysis for two reasons. (i) Integrative biophilosophy has developed a philosophy of science concept that can be used to examine research practices (namely, the development of "methodological signatures of research programs"). This concept can be systematically extended to cognitive science topics in the context of PSC. (ii) A central proposition of 4E theories is that cognitive phenomena emerge through the competent interaction of a living being with its environment. Because biological behavioral research is devoted to complex animal-environment relationships, a PSC guided by the critical analysis of behavioral research procedures can help structure cognitive science research dedicated to that central proposition; the PSC can help understand how animal-environment studies can be exploited in cognitive science.

Selected publications

  • Casper, M.-O.. (2019). Social Enactivism. On Situating High-Level Cognitive States and Processes., Berlin/New York: De Gruyter. 
  • Casper, M. -O., Nyakatura, J. A., Pawel, A., Reimer, Ch., Schubert, T., & Lauschke, M.. (2018). The Movement-Image Compatibility Effect: Embodiment Theory Interpretations of Motor Resonance with Digitized Photographs, Drawings, and Paintings, Frontiers in Psychology - Perception Science, Vol. 9, Article 991
  • Casper, M. -O.. (2017). Long Term Epistemic Actions, AVANT. Trends in Interdisciplinary Studies, Vol. VIII (1): 119­-130.

Selected lectures

  • Aug. 16, 2018: Casper, M.-O.: "What are beliefs? On an Enactivist Problem." Invited talk at the Institute for Philosophy, Technical University Berlin.
  • Feb. 22, 2018: Casper, M.-O.: "Putting Neo-Pragmatist Flesh to the Bones of Enactivism. How Enactivists Can Answer the Scaling-Up Problem." Invited talk at the conference "Naturally Evolving Minds: Controversies, Developments, Interventions," University of Wollongong (Australia).
  • Sep 25, 2017: Casper, M.-O.: "What Is Social Enactivism?" Talk at the COSTECH Laboratory for the "CRED" (Cognition Research and Enaction Design) research group, Sorbonne Universités/Université de Technologie de Compiègne (France).