Ethics in Enactivism: a Pragmatic Approach. 01/10/2021 - 30/09/2025


In contemporary philosophy of mind, it now the rule rather than the exception to assert that cognition is not 'all in the head'. Although endorsed by many, the exact nature of the claim that cognitive processes — perceiving, imagining, remembering — are related to our bodies and world remains the topic of fierce debate. The interdisciplinary research tradition of enactivism takes perhaps the most radical line on this issue. According to enactivists, there is no real way to separate our thoughts, perceptions and actions from the places we are in. Cognition is not a process taking place inside an agent, bearing a relation to something outside of the agent, but an activity arising out of agent-world interactions. Brain, body and environment are said to play equal parts in structuring our experience; they form a 'coupled system' that is constantly updating itself via interactive adaptations, thus giving rise to how we act. Enactivism has proven popular among philosophers and cognitive scientists alike. But as of yet, it has said very little about the moral dimension of cognition. This research project aims to fill that gap. By drawing upon the tradition of American pragmatism, it attempts a systematic inquiry into the nature of moral agency in the enactivist framework. It specifically attempts to answer the question how moral action and knowledge should be seen if we accept that agency and the world in which we act are deeply interconnected.


Research team(s)

Project type(s)

  • Research Project