Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa

Minding One's Cognitive Systems: When Does a Group of Minds Constitute a Single Cognitive Unit?


The possibility of group minds or group mental states has been considered by a number of authors addressing issues in social epistemology and related areas (Goldman 2004, Pettit 2003, Gilbert 2004, Hutchins 1995). An appeal to group minds might, in the end, do indispensable explanatory work in the social or cognitive sciences. I am skeptical, though, and this essay lays out some of the reasons for my skepticism. The concerns raised herein constitute challenges to the advocates of group minds (or group mental states), challenges that might be overcome as theoretical and empirical work proceeds. Nevertheless, these hurdles are, I think, genuine and substantive, so much so that my tentative conclusion will not be optimistic. If a group mind is supposed to be a single mental system having two or more minds as proper parts, the prospects for group minds seem dim–or so I will argue.

Hide All
F. Adams & K. Aizawa (2001). “The Bounds of Cognition.” Philosophical Psychology 14: 4364.

Ned Block (1986). “Advertisement for a Semantics for Psychology.” In P. French T. Uehling , and H. Wettstein (eds.), Midwest Studies in Philosophy, Vol. 10: Studies in the Philosophy of Mind (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press), pp. 615–78.

M. Gilbert (2004). “Collective Epistemology.” EPISTEME 1: 0-17 (pagination refers to typescript).

A. Goldman (2004). “Group Knowledge Versus Group Rationality: Two Approaches to Social Epistemology,” EPISTEME 1: 1122.

R. Grush (1997) “The Architecture of Representation.” Philosophical Psychology 10: 523.

J. C. Maloney (1994). “Content: Covariation, Control, and Contingency.” Synthese 100: 241–90.

R. Rupert (1998). “On the Relationship between Naturalistic Semantics and Individuation Criteria for Terms in a Language of Thought.” Synthese 117: 95131.

R. Rupert (1999). “The Best Test Theory of Extension: First Principle(s).” Mind and Language 14 (1999): 321355.

R. Rupert (2001). “Coining Terms in the Language of Thought: Innateness, Emergence, and the Lot of Cummins's Argument against the Causal Theory of Mental Content.” The Journal nof Philosophy 98: 499530.

G. Schlosser (1998) “Self-reproduction and Functionality: A Systems-Theoretical Approach to Teleological Explanation.” Synthese 116: 303354.

C. Slater (1994). “Discrimination without Indication: Why Dretske Can't Lean on Learning.” Mind and Language 9: 163–80.

J. D. Velleman (1997) “How to Share an Intention,” Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 57: 2950.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

  • ISSN: 1742-3600
  • EISSN: 1750-0117
  • URL: /core/journals/episteme
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 22 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 169 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 19th October 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.