Jeroen de Ridder: Representations and Group Cognitive States

Dr Jeroen de Ridder (VU University Amsterdam) speaks at the Extended Knowledge conference, University of Edinburgh, 22-24 April 2015.

Abstract: One argument against the existence of robustly collective cognitive states such as group belief or group knowledge is that there are no collective representations, i.e., representations held by groups rather than individuals. Since belief requires representation, so the argument goes, there can be no collective belief. In this paper, I reply to this argument. First, I’ll scrutinize the assumption that belief requires representation and point out that it is in fact a substantive and controversial issue whether belief indeed requires representation and, if it does, how so. Secondly, I’ll argue that even if we grant the above assumption, the argument can be resisted, since there is a natural way to make sense of collective representations. By drawing on the ideas of the extended mind and distributed cognition, I’ll outline how we can conceive of collective representations and thereby undermine the argument against group cognitive states.