, Volume 12, Issue 1, pp 1-26

Making it mental: in search for the golden mean of the extended cognition controversy

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Abstract

This paper engages the extended cognition controversy by advancing a theory which fits nicely into an attractive and surprisingly unoccupied conceptual niche situated comfortably between traditional individualism and the radical externalism espoused by the majority of supporters of the extended mind hypothesis. I call this theory moderate active externalism, or MAE. In alliance with other externalist theories of cognition, MAE is committed to the view that certain cognitive processes extend across brain, body, and world—a conclusion which follows from a theory I develop in “Synergic Coordination: an argument for cognitive process externalism.” Yet, in contradistinction with radical externalism, and in agreement with the internalist orthodoxy, MAE defends the view that mental states are situated invariably inside our heads. This is done, inter alia, by developing a novel hypothesis regarding the vehicles of content (in “Extended cognition without externalized mental states”, and by criticizing arguments in support of mental states externalism (in “Reflections and objections”). The result, I believe, is a coherent theoretical alternative worthy of serious consideration.