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Self vs Other? Social Cognition, Extended Minds, and Self-Rule

Andrew Sneddon


Humans are individuals qua objects, organisms and, putatively, minds. We are also social animals. We tend to value self-rule-i. e., the possession and exercise of the capacity or capacities that allow individuals to govern their lives. However, our sociality can call the possibility and value of such autonomy into question. The more we seem to be social animals, the less we seem to be capable of running our own lives. Empirical psychology has revealed surprising details about the extent to which our minds are subject to social influence. Such influence is sometimes taken as a threat to self-rule. The debate over the Extended Mind Hypothesis (EMH) might seem to exacerbate the social threat to selfrule. If minds are spread across individuals, perhaps it no longer makes sense to speak of individual selves who may or may not rule themselves. I argue that no general threat to self-rule stems from human sociality. Further, the adoption of EMH is consistent with extensive attribution of psychological states to individuals, thus vouchsafing individual selves and autonomy.

© 2021 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Munich/Boston