Trends in interdisciplinary studies

3rd Avant Conference 2017

Understanding Social Cognition

Within the social sciences, it is widely accepted that groups of people exhibit social properties and dynamics that emerge from, but cannot be reductively identified with the actions and properties of individual members. Nevertheless, psychology and cognitive science have only reluctantly embraced the idea that something similar might happen in the domain of mind and cognition.

Contemporary research on the distinctively social aspects of human cognition, which has become abundant over the past two decades, tends to fall somewhere along the following continuum. On the “conservative” side, the minds of individuals are currently being reconceived as socially situated, culturally scaffolded, and deeply transformed by our life-long immersion and participation in group contexts. According to more “liberal” multi-level approaches, the informational integration of functionally interdependent and socially distributed individual cognitive processes can enable the rise to emergent group-level cognitive phenomena. We invite participants to explore the full spectrum of social cognition, ranging from the elementary social-cognitive skills that allow people to think and act together, through embodied behavioral coupling and joint intentionality, mechanisms of mind reading and mutual understanding, all the way to group cognition.

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Abstracts submission July 31
Notification of acceptance* August 30
Registration fee September 30

*In case of early submissions (until the end of May) abstracts will be reviewed upon receiving them and the final decision will be delivered within three weeks since the date of the abstract submission.

Key speakers and Guests of Special Symposia

  • Daniel Dennett (Tufts University, USA, book promotion)
  • is an American naturalist philosopher, writer, and cognitive scientist. He is currently University Professor and Austin B. Fletcher Professor of Philosophy, and Co-Director of the Center for Cognitive Studies at Tufts University. His areas of professional interest are philosophy of mind, of science, and of biology, with special emphasis on their relation to cognitive science. Apart from his research within the above disciplines, he has become a prominent figure in the New Atheism movement, and continues to publish in this capacity as well. He is the author of numerous academic articles and a number of books, including such titles as Consciousness Explained (1992), Darwin's Dangerous Idea (1995), Neuroscience and Philosophy: Brain, Mind, and Language (2007, co-author), or From Bacteria to Bach and Back: The Evolution of Minds (2017). Laureate of many awards and fellowships, he continues to play a central role in contemporary philosophy and science.

  • Morana Alač (University of California San Diego, USA)
  • is an associate professor of communication and science studies at the University of California San Diego. She deals with distributed cognition, perception and sensation from the perspective of multimodal and multisensory interaction in everyday life.

  • Stephen Cowley (University of Southern Denmark)
  • is a member of the Department of Language and Communication at the University of Southern Denmark. In his professional investigations he focuses on the beginnings of language, cognition and communication. He developed a concept of distributed language defined as a constitutive part of action and perception. In his empirical work he address the question of how problem solving and coordination help to balance emotions and relationships.

    He co-edited numerous volumes: Biosemitic. Perspectives in Language and Linguistics (2015), Signifying Bodies (2010), Cognition Beyond the Brain (2013), Distributed Language (2009), and more. He is co-founder of Distributed Language Group which recently evolved into International Society for the Study of Interactivity, Language and Cognition.

  • Arkadiusz Gut (Catholic University of Lublin, Poland)
  • Robert Rupert (University of Colorado Boulder, USA)
  • is a professor of philosophy at the University of Boulder, Colorado. He focuses his works in the realm of philosophy of mind, the philosophical foundations of cognitive science, and in related areas of philosophy of science, metaphysics, epistemology, and philosophy of language. His research focuses particularly on mental representation, concept acquisition, mental causation, cognitive architecture, situated cognition, group cognition, natural laws, and properties. He has held visiting research positions at the University of Edinburgh, the Australian National University, and the Ruhr-Universität, Bochum. He is an associate editor of the “British Journal for the Philosophy of Mind” and author of Cognitive Systems and the Extended Mind (2009).

  • Judith Simon (University of Hamburg, Germany)
  • Judith Simon holds a PhD in philosophy and currently works as a Professor for Ethics in Information Technologies at the University of Hamburg. She used to hold positions at the University of Copenhagen, the University of Vienna, the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, the Institute Jean Nicod in Paris and the Jülich Research Centre. She conducts research on epistemological and ethical issues raised by information and computation technologies from the perspective of social epistemology, STS and feminist theory. She is a member of the editorial boards of "Philosophy & Technology", "Big Data & Society", "Open Library of Humanities" and the book series "Philosophy, Technology and Society". In 2013 she won the Herbert A. Simon Award, funded by the International Association for Computing and Philosophy (IACAP), for outstanding research on the intersection of philosophy and computing.

  • Deborah Tollefsen (University of Memphis, USA)
  • is a Professor of Philosophy at the Department of Philosophy and Associate Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Memphis. She specializes in epistemology (especially social and feminist), philosophy of mind, social ontology, group intentionality and group knowledge. She published in “Episteme”, “Review of Philosophy and Psychology”, “Midwest Studies in Philosophy”, “Philosophical Explorations”, and “Philosophy of the Social Sciences” and many more. She is the author of Groups as Agents (2015)

  • Robert Wilson (University of Alberta, Canada)
  • is a professor of philosophy at the University of Alberta, in Edmonton, Canada. His areas of professional interest are the philosophy of the mind, the foundations of cognitive science, and the philosophy of biology, in particular he has been focused on the issue of eugenics, the contemporary uses of biotechnology, disability, and the philosophy of psychiatry. He used to hold positions at Queen's University, Canada, and the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign,. He is the editor-in-chief (with Frank Keil) of The MIT Encyclopedia of the Cognitive Sciences (1999) and author of Boundaries of the Mind (2004).

Relevant topics include (but are not limited to):

  • Socially situated and scaffolded individual cognition
  • Social cognition from an evolutionary, cultural-historical, and ontogenetic perspective
  • Psychological underpinnings of social interaction (joint, multi-agent, collective)
  • Collective intentionality and social ontology
  • Technologically vs. socially extended cognition
  • Distributed cognition and group minds
  • Current debates on mindreading, empathy, social affordances, and the cognitive bases for intersubjectivity

Relevant disciplines: cognitive science, philosophy, psychology, sociology, linguistics, anthropology, political science, legal theory, economics, animal cognition