The dynamics of group cognition

Spyridon Palermos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


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.
Original languageEnglish
JournalMinds and machines
Publication statusPublished - 17 Oct 2016


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  • Group Knowledge

    Palermos, S. O., Pritchard, D., Carter, J. A. & Kallestrup, J.

    1/02/14 → …

    Project: Other (Non-Funded/Miscellaneous)

  • Extended Knowledge

    Pritchard, D., Clark, A., Kallestrup, J., Carter, J. A. & Palermos, S. O.



    Project: Research

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