Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences

, Volume 14, Issue 3, pp 577–598 | Cite as

Dimensions of integration in embedded and extended cognitive systems

  • Richard HeersminkEmail author


The complementary properties and functions of cognitive artifacts and other external resources are integrated into the human cognitive system to varying degrees. The goal of this paper is to develop some of the tools to conceptualize this complementary integration between agents and artifacts. It does so by proposing a multidimensional framework, including the dimensions of information flow, reliability, durability, trust, procedural transparency, informational transparency, individualization, and transformation. The proposed dimensions are all matters of degree and jointly they constitute a multidimensional space in which situated cognitive systems can be located and have certain dimensional configurations. These dimensions provide a new perspective on the conditions for cognitive extension. They are, however, not meant to provide a set of necessary and sufficient conditions, but to provide a toolbox for investigating the degree and nature of the integration of agent and artifact into “new systemic wholes”. The higher a situated system scores on the proposed dimensions, the more functional integration occurs, and the more tightly coupled the system is.


Situated cognition Distributed cognition Extended mind Complementarity principle Second-wave extended mind theory Cognitive integration Cognitive artifacts Information Function 



I would like to express my gratitude to John Sutton and Richard Menary for helpful comments on earlier versions of this paper. I would also like to thank the audiences at the Distributed Cognition and Distributed Agency Workshop (Sydney, 2012) and the AISB/IACAP World Congress (Birmingham, 2012) for useful feedback.


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.ARC Centre of Excellence in Cognition and Its DisordersMacquarie UniversitySydneyAustralia

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