Friends at last? Distributed cognition and the cognitive/social divide

Philosophical Psychology 27 (1):1-14 (2014)
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Distributed cognition (d-cog) claims that many cognitive processes are distributed across groups and the surrounding material and cultural environment. Recently, Nancy Nersessian, Ronald Giere, and others have suggested that a d-cog approach might allow us to bring together cognitive and social theories of science. I explore this idea by focusing on the specific interpretation of d-cog found in Edwin Hutchins' canonical text Cognition in the wild. First, I examine the scope of a d-cog approach to science, showing that there are important disputes between cognitive and social theorists on which d-cog remains silent. Second, I suggest that, where social explanations can be recast in d-cog terms, this reformulation will not be acceptable to all social theorists. Finally, I ask how we should make sense of the claim that, on a d-cog analysis, social factors are cognitive factors
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