Meshed Cognition: a novel approach to agency and self-control. 01/07/2023 - 30/06/2027


When can we speak of an action? And when is it rather that something happens to you? In philosophy, there has long been the distinction between mere bodily movement and intentional action. This distinction is important for, among other things, the way we think about autonomy and responsibility. It is also strongly linked to the idea of reason-responsiveness, whether an agent adequately responds to reasons for or against certain decisions. Habits and skills can be placed, on the one hand, in the category of action, but also in the category of merely bodily movement. This is because they can be categorized as both purposeful and automatic. In response, an intermediate category has been proposed, allowing us to distinguish between mere bodily movements; activities (or doings); and intentional actions. However, this solution runs into quite a few problems. The goal of this project is to better understand this intermediate category and its relationship to the other categories. This is done through a deep study of habits and skills. For this we will use pragmatism and situated philosophical of mind. In addition, cognitive science is examined. This includes a focus on the different forms of control as well as metacognitive processes. Both of these components are integrated into a model of highly meshed cognition (cognition as non-hierarchically organized and highly integrated). Through this study, a new model of action is proposed that is more in line with current findings in the cognitive sciences. This will give us new tools to think about autonomy and responsibility, for example within the discussion of implicit cognition and implicit biases.


Research team(s)

Project type(s)

  • Research Project