Friends at last? Distributed cognition and the cognitive/social divide
Taylor and Francis
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.
Vol. 27, No. 1, pp. 112-125