Seminar: Professor Tom Buller, "Enhancement and the Extended Mind"

Past Event

14 October 2009, 4:45pm - 6:45pm

Lecture Theatre, Oxford Martin School
34 Broad Street (corner of Holywell and Catte Streets), Oxford, OX1 3BD

Professor Tom Buller, Department of Philosophy, University of Alaska Anchorage

Abstract: In the context of the debate over cognitive enhancement, it has been customary to regard the skin-and-skull barrier as ethically significant. Direct interventions – interventions within this barrier – are regarded as more invasive than indirect interventions – interventions beyond the barrier, and direct interventions alone appear to raise questions of authenticity in regard to the resultant enhancement. This position has been questioned on the basis of the Extended Mind (EM) thesis, the thesis that the mind and mental states extend beyond the brain. In particular, it has been argued that the thesis challenges the underlying assumptions that the person is coincidental with body, and that interventions into the brain are uniquely and distinctively interventions into our mental states. In this paper I consider the implications that the EM thesis has for questions of cognitive enhancement, and, in particular, whether the thesis warrants a revision in the legitimacy of the distinction between direct and indirect interventions. The position I wish to defend is that concerns regarding the invasiveness and authenticity of direct interventions remain even if the EM thesis is adopted.