Macrocognition: A Theory of Distributed Minds and Collective Intentionality

Hardcover | January 7, 2014

byBryce Huebner

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We live in an age of scientific collaboration, popular uprisings, failing political parties, and increasing corporate power. Many of these kinds of collective action derive from the decisions of intelligent and powerful leaders, and many others emerge as a result of the aggregation ofindividual interests. But genuinely collective mentality remains a seductive possibility. This book develops a novel approach to distributed cognition and collective intentionality. It argues that genuine cognition requires the capacity to engage in flexible goal-directed behavior, and that this requires specialized representational systems that are integrated in a way that yields fluidand skillful coping with environmental contingencies. In line with this argument, the book claims that collective mentality should be posited where and only where specialized subroutines are integrated to yields goal-directed behavior that is sensitive to the concerns that are relevant to a group assuch. Unlike traditional claims about collective intentionality, this approach reveals that there are many kinds of collective minds: some groups have cognitive capacities that are more like those that we find in honeybees or cats than they are like those that we find in people. Indeed, groups areunlikely to be "believers" in the fullest sense of the term, and understanding why this is the case sheds new light on questions about collective intentionality and collective responsibility.

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We live in an age of scientific collaboration, popular uprisings, failing political parties, and increasing corporate power. Many of these kinds of collective action derive from the decisions of intelligent and powerful leaders, and many others emerge as a result of the aggregation ofindividual interests. But genuinely collective menta...

Bryce Huebner is an associate professor at Georgetown University. He completed a PhD at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and did postdoctoral research in psychology at Harvard University and in the Center for Cognitive Studies at Tufts University (working with Dan Dennett). He has published both theoretical and empirical ...
Format:HardcoverDimensions:336 pages, 9.25 × 6.12 × 0.98 inPublished:January 7, 2014Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199926271

ISBN - 13:9780199926275

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Table of Contents

Part I: Macrocognition: A new foundation for a theory of collective mentality1. Why bother with collective mentality?2. Missteps on the road to macrocognition3. One step closer on the road to macrocognition4. A Plausible foundation for macrocognitionPart II: Toward a more complete theory of collective mentality5. Is collective mentality intuitively implausible?6. The explanatory superfluity of collective mentality, Part I7. The explanatory superfluity of collective mentality, Part II8. Collective selves and collective personhood9. Different kinds of collective minds10. ConclusionReferencesIndex

Editorial Reviews

"In this book, Bryce Huebner articulates and defends the hypothesis of collective mentality, the claim that some collectives 'are minded' or have psychologies in the same sense as individuals. His approach is relentlessly and impressively naturalistic in setting a defense of this surprisinghypothesis within a detailed computational theory of individual cognition... [It] is the most sophisticated defense of collective mentality based in cognitive science yet offered." --John Sutton, Professor of Cognitive Science, Macquarie University