Palermos (2016)

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Palermos, Spyridon Orestis. (2016) The dynamics of group cognition. Minds and Machines 26 (4), 409-440.

Title The dynamics of group cognition
Resource Type journal article
Author(s) Spyridon Orestis Palermos
Year 2016
DOI 10.1007/s11023-016-9402-5 DOI 10.1007/s11023-016-9402-5
Journal Minds and Machines
Volume 26
Number 4
Pages 409-440


The aim of this paper is to demonstrate that the postulation of irreducible, distributed cognitive systems (or group minds as they are also known in the literature) is necessary for the successful explanatory practice of cognitive science and sociology. Towards this end, and with an eye specifically on the phenomenon of distributed cognition, the debate over reductionism versus emergence is examined from the perspective of Dynamical Systems Theory (DST). The motivation for this novel approach is threefold. Firstly, DST is particularly popular amongst cognitive scientists who work on modelling collective behaviors. Secondly, DST can deliver two distinct arguments in support of the claim that the presence of mutual interactions between group members necessitates the postulation of the corresponding group entity. Thirdly, DST can also provide a succinct understanding of the way group entities exert downward causation on their individual members. The outcome is a naturalist account of the emergent, and thereby irreducible, nature of distributed cognitive systems that avoids the reductionists’ threat of epiphenomenalism, while being well in line with materialism