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The Cognitive Ecology of the Internet

In Stephen Cowley & Frederic Vallée-Tourangeau (eds.), Cognition Beyond the Brain: Computation, Interactivity and Human Artifice (2nd ed.). Cham, Switzerland: Springer. pp. 251-282 (2017)

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  1. Varieties of Artifacts: Embodied, Perceptual, Cognitive, and Affective.Richard Heersmink - 2021 - Topics in Cognitive Science:1-24.
    The primary goal of this essay is to provide a comprehensive overview and analysis of the various relations between material artifacts and the embodied mind. A secondary goal of this essay is to identify some of the trends in the design and use of artifacts. First, based on their functional properties, I identify four categories of artifacts co-opted by the embodied mind, namely (1) embodied artifacts, (2) perceptual artifacts, (3) cognitive artifacts, and (4) affective artifacts. These categories can overlap and (...)
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  • Neuroethics, Cognitive Technologies and the Extended Mind Perspective.Jan-Hendrik Heinrichs - 2021 - Neuroethics 14 (1):59-72.
    Current debates in neuroethics engage with extremely diverse technologies, for some of which it is a point of contention whether they should be a topic for neuroethics at all. In this article, I will evaluate extended mind theory’s claim of being able to define the scope of neuroethics’ domain as well as determining the extension of an individual’s mind via its so-called trust and glue criteria. I argue that a) extending the domain of neuroethics by this manoeuvre endangers the theoretical (...)
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  • The Internet, Cognitive Enhancement, and the Values of Cognition.Richard Heersmink - 2016 - Minds and Machines 26 (4):389-407.
    This paper has two distinct but related goals: (1) to identify some of the potential consequences of the Internet for our cognitive abilities and (2) to suggest an approach to evaluate these consequences. I begin by outlining the Google effect, which (allegedly) shows that when we know information is available online, we put less effort into storing that information in the brain. Some argue that this strategy is adaptive because it frees up internal resources which can then be used for (...)
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  • Varieties of the Extended Self.Richard Heersmink - 2020 - Consciousness and Cognition 85:103001.
    This article provides an overview and analysis of recent work on the extended self, demonstrating that the boundaries of selves are fluid, shifting across biological, artifactual, and sociocultural structures. First, it distinguishes the notions of minimal self, person, and narrative self. Second, it surveys how philosophers, psychologists, and cognitive scientists argue that embodiment, cognition, emotion, consciousness, and moral character traits can be extended and what that implies for the boundaries of selves. It also reviews and responds to various criticisms and (...)
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  • A Virtue Epistemology of the Internet: Search Engines, Intellectual Virtues and Education.Richard Heersmink - 2018 - Social Epistemology 32 (1):1-12.
    This paper applies a virtue epistemology approach to using the Internet, as to improve our information-seeking behaviours. Virtue epistemology focusses on the cognitive character of agents and is less concerned with the nature of truth and epistemic justification as compared to traditional analytic epistemology. Due to this focus on cognitive character and agency, it is a fruitful but underexplored approach to using the Internet in an epistemically desirable way. Thus, the central question in this paper is: How to use the (...)
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  • Engineering Affect: Emotion Regulation, the Internet, and the Techno-Social Niche.Joel Krueger & Lucy Osler - 2019 - Philosophical Topics 47 (2):205-231.
    Philosophical work exploring the relation between cognition and the Internet is now an active area of research. Some adopt an externalist framework, arguing that the Internet should be seen as environmental scaffolding that drives and shapes cognition. However, despite growing interest in this topic, little attention has been paid to how the Internet influences our affective life — our moods, emotions, and our ability to regulate these and other feeling states. We argue that the Internet scaffolds not only cognition but (...)
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  • The Internet as Cognitive Enhancement.Cristina Voinea, Constantin Vică, Emilian Mihailov & Julian Savulescu - 2020 - Science and Engineering Ethics 26 (4):2345-2362.
    The Internet has been identified in human enhancement scholarship as a powerful cognitive enhancement technology. It offers instant access to almost any type of information, along with the ability to share that information with others. The aim of this paper is to critically assess the enhancement potential of the Internet. We argue that unconditional access to information does not lead to cognitive enhancement. The Internet is not a simple, uniform technology, either in its composition, or in its use. We will (...)
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  • The Narrative Self, Distributed Memory, and Evocative Objects.Richard Heersmink - 2018 - Philosophical Studies 175 (8):1829-1849.
    In this article, I outline various ways in which artifacts are interwoven with autobiographical memory systems and conceptualize what this implies for the self. I first sketch the narrative approach to the self, arguing that who we are as persons is essentially our (unfolding) life story, which, in turn, determines our present beliefs and desires, but also directs our future goals and actions. I then argue that our autobiographical memory is partly anchored in our embodied interactions with an ecology of (...)
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  • Social Machines: A Philosophical Engineering.Spyridon Palermos - 2017 - Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 16 (5):953-978.
    In Weaving the Web, Berners-Lee defines Social Machines as biotechnologically hybrid Web-processes on the basis of which, “high-level activities, which have occurred just within one human’s brain, will occur among even larger more interconnected groups of people acting as if the shared a larger intuitive brain”. The analysis and design of Social Machines has already started attracting considerable attention both within the industry and academia. Web science, however, is still missing a clear definition of what a Social Machine is, which (...)
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  • Situating Machine Intelligence Within the Cognitive Ecology of the Internet.Paul Smart - 2017 - Minds and Machines 27 (2):357-380.
    The Internet is an important focus of attention for the philosophy of mind and cognitive science communities. This is partly because the Internet serves as an important part of the material environment in which a broad array of human cognitive and epistemic activities are situated. The Internet can thus be seen as an important part of the ‘cognitive ecology’ that helps to shape, support and realize aspects of human cognizing. Much of the previous philosophical work in this area has sought (...)
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  • Distributed Cognition and Distributed Morality: Agency, Artifacts and Systems.Richard Heersmink - 2017 - Science and Engineering Ethics 23 (2):431-448.
    There are various philosophical approaches and theories describing the intimate relation people have to artifacts. In this paper, I explore the relation between two such theories, namely distributed cognition and distributed morality theory. I point out a number of similarities and differences in these views regarding the ontological status they attribute to artifacts and the larger systems they are part of. Having evaluated and compared these views, I continue by focussing on the way cognitive artifacts are used in moral practice. (...)
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  • Distributed Selves: Personal Identity and Extended Memory Systems.Richard Heersmink - 2017 - Synthese 194 (8):3135–3151.
    This paper explores the implications of extended and distributed cognition theory for our notions of personal identity. On an extended and distributed approach to cognition, external information is under certain conditions constitutive of memory. On a narrative approach to personal identity, autobiographical memory is constitutive of our diachronic self. In this paper, I bring these two approaches together and argue that external information can be constitutive of one’s autobiographical memory and thus also of one’s diachronic self. To develop this claim, (...)
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  • Cognition and the Web: Extended, Transactive, or Scaffolded?Richard Heersmink & John Sutton - 2020 - Erkenntnis 85 (1):139-164.
    In the history of external information systems, the World Wide Web presents a significant change in terms of the accessibility and amount of available information. Constant access to various kinds of online information has consequences for the way we think, act and remember. Philosophers and cognitive scientists have recently started to examine the interactions between the human mind and the Web, mainly focussing on the way online information influences our biological memory systems. In this article, we use concepts from the (...)
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