Review of Philosophy and Psychology

, Volume 7, Issue 1, pp 17–33 | Cite as

Active Content Externalism

  • Holger Lyre


The aim of this paper is to scrutinize active externalism and its repercussions for externalism about mental content. I start from the claim that active externalism is a version of content externalism that follows from the extended cognition thesis as a thesis about cognitive vehicles. Various features of active content externalism are explored by comparison with the known forms of passive externalism – in particular with respect to the multiple realizability of the relevant external content-determining components and with respect to mental causation. A crucial result is that social externalism is already a version of active externalism. I conclude with a first sketch of a general account of meaning inspired by extended cognition: a use theory supplemented by a functional-role account.


Cognitive System Natural Kind Active Externalism Mental Causation External Component 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The present version of the paper owes much to the kind suggestions of Kristina Musholt, Michael Pohl and an anonymous referee of this journal.


  1. Adams, F. R., and K. Aizawa. 2010. Defending the Bounds of Cognition. In Menary (2010), 67–80.Google Scholar
  2. Block, N. 1998. Semantics, conceptual role. In The routledge encylopedia of philosophy, ed. E. Craig. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  3. Blomberg, O. 2011. Socially extended intentions-in-action. Review of Philosophy and Psychology 2(2): 335–353.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Burge, T. 1979. Individualism and the mental. Midwest Studies in Philosophy 4: 73–121.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Chalmers, D. (ed.). 2002. Philosophy of mind: classical and contemporary readings. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  6. Chalmers, D. 2008. Foreword. In Clark (2008).Google Scholar
  7. Child, W. 2006. Wittgenstein’s externalism: context, self-knowledge and the past. In What determines content? The internalism/externalism dispute, ed. T. Marvan. Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Press.Google Scholar
  8. Clark, A. 2005. Intrinsic content, active memory and the extended mind. Analysis 65(285): 1–11.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Clark, A. 2008. Supersizing the mind: embodiment, action, and cognitive extension. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Clark, A., and D. Chalmers. 1998. The extended mind. Analysis 58(1): 7–19.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Cummins, R.C. 1989. Meaning and mental representation. Cambridge: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  12. Hurley, S. 1998. Vehicles, contents, conceptual structure, and externalism. Analysis 58(1): 1–6.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Hurley, S. 2010. Varieties of Externalism. In The Extended Mind, ed. R. Menary, 101–153. Cambridge: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  14. Jacob, P. 1993. Externalism and the explanatory relevance of broad content. Mind and Language 8(1): 131–156.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Keijzer, F., and M. Schouten. 2007. Embedded cognition and mental causation: Setting empirical bounds on metaphysics. Synthese 158: 109–125.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Kirsh, D., and P. Maglio. 1994. On distinguishing epistemic from pragmatic action. Cognitive Science 18: 513–549.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Kosslyn, S.M. 2006. On the Evolution of Human Motivation: The Role of Social Prosthetic Systems. In Evolutionary Cognitive Neuroscience, ed. S.M. Platek, T.K. Shackelford, and J.P. Keenan, 541–554. Cambridge: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  18. Krueger, J. 2011. Extended cognition and the space of social interaction. Consciousness and Cognition 20(3): 643–657.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Lyre, H. 2009. The “Multirealization” of Multiple Realizability. In Reduction - Abstraction - Analysis, ed. A. Hieke and H. Leitgeb, 79–94. Ontos: Frankfurt.Google Scholar
  20. Lyre, H. 2010. Erweiterte Kognition und mentaler Externalismus. Zeitschrift für Philosophische Forschung 64(2): 190–215.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Robbins, P., and M. Aydede (eds.). 2008. The Cambridge Handbook of Situated Cognition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  22. Rowlands, M. 2003. Externalism: Putting Mind and World Back Together Again. Chesham: Acumen.Google Scholar
  23. Whiting, D. 2010. Conceptual role semantics. Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.Google Scholar
  24. Wilson, R. A. 2010. Meaning making and the mind of the externalist. In Menary (2010), 167–187.Google Scholar
  25. Wittgenstein, L. 1953. Philosophical investigations. Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Philosophy Department & Center for Behavioral Brain Sciences (CBBS)University of MagdeburgMagdeburgGermany

Personalised recommendations