Robert Clowes, 21 March 2017, 10h

March 21, 2017

ArgLab Research Colloquium

Av. de Berna 26, I&D Building, First floor, room 1.05

The New Cognitive Ecology of Human Reasoning

Robert Clowes, Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Portugal


Human reasoning like, the broader class of human cognition, can only be fully understood when situated within a cognitive ecology (Hutchins, 2010). The notion of cognitive ecology holds that cognition is intimately dependent upon and is constrained and augmented by the environment. In particular, a wide range of human made artefacts and the cultural practices that structure their usage. However, within the remit of cognitive ecology, it is more typical to examine discrete human capacities such as memory, or certain types of problem solving. In recent work I have examined the new artefactual technology and culture of the internet, especially the mobile wireless internet and its implications for human cognition (Clowes, 2015; Smart, Heersmink, & Clowes, Forthcoming). This talk explores how we might apply this perspective to a wider range of human reasoning capabilities taking as its starting point Bratman´s (Bratman, 1987, 2000) investigation of “strong agency” and the structure of much advanced human reasoning. To this end, from the standpoint of cognitive ecology, I will examine the role of tools and artefacts as they relate to our planning and reflective capabilities in the context of the mobile internet. The aim is to begin to elucidate the broader structure of human reasoning as we find it in its new artefactual context.

Bratman, M. (1987). Intentions, Plans and Practical Reason. Harvard University Press.

Bratman, M. (2000). Reflection, planning, and temporally extended agency. The Philosophical Review, 109(1), 35-61. 

Clowes, R. W. (2015). Thinking in the cloud: The Cognitive Incorporation of Cloud-Based Technology. Philosophy and Technology, 28, Issue 2,(2), 261-296. 

Hutchins, E. (2010). Cognitive ecology. Topics in Cognitive Science, 2(4), 705-715. 

Smart, P. R., Heersmink, R., & Clowes, R. W. (Forthcoming). The Cognitive Ecology of the The Internet. In S. J. Cowley & F. Vallée-Tourangeau (Eds.), Cognition Beyond the Brain, 2nd Edition: Springer.

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Faculdade de Direito Universidade Nova de Lisboa