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I shall refer to this form of discrimination as smallism, discrimination
in favor of the small, and so, against the not-so-small. Small things and
their properties are seen to be ontologically prior to the larger things
that they constitute, and this metaphysics drives both explanatory ideal
and methodological perspective. The explanatory ideal is to discover the
basic causal powers of particular small things, and the methodological
perspective is that of some form of reductionism.15
Corpuscularianism is the view that matter is ultimately made up of
simple corpuscles or atoms, which themselves possess a relatively small
number of intrinsic properties. It is these corpuscles and their associated
The Individual in the Fragile Sciences 23

properties, the primary qualities, that explain all observable physical and
chemical phenomena. While corpuscularianism itself reached its height
at the end of the seventeenth century and is no longer taken seriously as a
hypothesis about the structure of the physical world, some of its features
have structured smallist views in the psychological, biological, and social
sciences. To see this, consider corpuscularianism itself.
This view was developed in seventeenth-century Europe chie¬‚y in the
works of Galileo Galilei, Pierre Gassendi, and Robert Boyle. The sort
of atomism that it promoted in metaphysics and science can be found
throughout the works of many thinkers of the period, including those
of Thomas Hobbes and John Locke. While the list of primary qualities
has varied across these authors, an aggregated list includes the follow-
ing properties: solidity, extension, ¬gure, mobility, motion or rest, num-
ber, bulk, texture, motion, size, and situation. Most relevant for my pur-
poses here are two features of corpuscularianism: The idea that primary
qualities are inherent in corpuscles, and the claim that all of an entity™s
properties could be explained in terms of corpuscles and their primary
Primary qualities are inherent in the sense that the things that have
them do so in and of themselves, without reference to any other thing
whatsoever. More generally and precisely, a quality Q is inherent to a
thing X just if X would have Q even if X were the only thing to exist
in the world at all. The idea that the real and ultimate properties that
a thing has are inherent in this sense plays an important role in the
compositional nature of corpuscularian metaphysics and explanation.
Corpuscles are (physical) parts of observable things, and parts of the parts
of observable things. It is properties of the parts of observable things, and
ultimately of the corpuscles themselves, that cause, and thus explain, the
observable properties of macroscopic objects. Given the inherentness of
primary qualities, this implies that the properties of the things that their
subjects constitute will be a function of these inherent properties, plus
the relations that hold between the things that have them.
It should be clear how this sort of corpuscularian metaphysics makes
individualism an inviting position to hold. If the ultimate properties that
are the causal movers and shakers in general are inherent in individuals,
then systematic explanations ought, in the long run, to make some sort
of appeal to those properties. We need, then, to constrain our higher-
level, fragile sciences in a way that will allow them to hook up with the
sciences that discover the primary qualities of the most basic material
things. Since these are inherent properties, the constraint should be one
Disciplining the Individual and the Mind

that limits the higher-level sciences to positing inherent properties. This
is just what the individualistic constraints that I have outlined in this
chapter attempt to do: An entity™s properties must supervene on that
entity™s intrinsic, physical properties, where the most signi¬cant entity is
a paradigmatic individual. So the fragile sciences should focus on what™s
inside individuals, not what lies beyond their boundaries. This is true
whether we focus just on our paradigmatic individuals human agents, or
whether we think of units both larger and smaller than our paradigms as
This emphasis on what is inside is the common point between indi-
vidualistic and nativist views across the fragile sciences. What™s inside is
construed as being rich in structure and ¬xed despite any variation in
organism-environment interactions. Individuals are not just concentra-
tions of especially important properties, but have those properties by
virtue of something about those individuals themselves: They have them
One general problem for smallism is shared by individualistic (and I
think nativist) views in the fragile sciences. Many of the kinds of things that
there are in the world “ modules, organisms, and species for example “
are relationally individuated. Thus, what they are cannot be understood
solely in terms of what they are constituted by. Moreover, regardless
of how the entities themselves are individuated, many of their most
salient properties “ their functionality, ¬tness, and adaptedness, for
example “ are relational properties. As such, since these properties do
not inhere in the entities that have them, they cannot be fully understood
by focusing exclusively on what falls inside the boundaries of those enti-
ties. This metaphysical point itself carries the methodological imperative
to look beyond the boundary of the individual in exploring the ways in
which individuals and their components function causally in the world.
The prima facie problem that relational properties and kinds pose for
smallist and individualist views requires further articulation, and it invites
some obvious responses. We will see several forms that this problem takes,
and explore some smallist responses, in Part Two.

9 a path through boundaries of the mind
This book has four parts. In the remainder of Part One, I aim to fur-
ther round out the start made in this chapter in articulating the idea of
the individual as a boundary for the mind. In the next chapter, I shall
introduce the idea that both the mind and its scienti¬c study, as well as
The Individual in the Fragile Sciences 25

individuals, have been “disciplined” in Michel Foucault™s sense. Neither
the mind nor its study are givens, but are, in some sense, constructed
through genealogical processes. Thus, in this chapter, I want to convey
some sense of psychology™s recent history (even if not of its “long past”),
and the conception of minds and individuals within it. In Chapter 3, I
shall return to put some ¬‚esh on the bones of my discussion of nativism.
Rather than using the two-dimensional view of nativism illustratively, as
I have in the current chapter, in Chapter 3 I will aim to defend the two-
dimensional view of nativism about the mind, and to explore some of the
claims about its signi¬cance left undeveloped here.
Parts Two and Three form the core of the book, and focus exclusively
on individualism and externalism about the mind. The three chapters
in Part Two are foundational, with Chapter 4 discussing individualism in
the philosophy of mind in detail, and Chapters 5 and 6 moving to discuss
the metaphysical notion of realization. The idea that mental states are
realized by physical states of the brain is commonplace in the philosophy
of mind. Although realization is a technical notion within philosophy, it
is linked to the concepts of mechanisms and dispositions, each prevalent
within the cognitive sciences themselves. One of the key ideas in these
chapters is that the standard way of thinking about realization in the
philosophy of mind carries with it a smallist bias, and that recognizing
this opens the way to an externalist view of the mind. Chapter 7 begins to
develop such a view with reference to computational cognitive science.
So, Part Two contributes to the increasingly elaborate debate between
individualists and externalists about the mind conducted within the phi-
losophy of mind and computational cognitive science. In Part Three,
the externalist view of the mind I defend is extended beyond these do-
mains to areas of psychology that typically are less explicitly computa-
tional (Chapter 8) and to consciousness (Chapter 9). Chapter 8 both
points to existing work on memory, cognitive development, and folk psy-
chology that can be viewed from an externalist point of view and suggests
how externalism may be extended further. Chapter 9 introduces what I
call the TESEE conception of consciousness: consciousness as temporally
extended, scaffolded, and e mbodied and embedded. In this pair of chap-
ters my aim is to continue with the articulation of externalism undertaken
in Chapter 7 by reference to existing empirical work on the mind.17
In the ¬nal chapter in Part Three, I return to more “purely philosoph-
ical” work in exploring the relationship between intentionality and phe-
nomenology. Much of the motivation for externalist views in the philoso-
phy of mind has derived from re¬‚ection on the nature of intentionality,
Disciplining the Individual and the Mind

and at least some of the resistance to externalism stems from views of con-
sciousness and phenomenology. Chapter 10, in part, addresses this resis-
tance through a critical examination of two recent proposals by philoso-
phers for thinking about the relationship between intentionality and
This chapter began with the idea that individuals and minds were
strongly connected in several ways. One of these connections manifests
itself in the innocent-sounding claim that individuals have minds, but that
groups, societies, and cultures do not. In the two chapters in Part Four, I
explore the claim, common enough a hundred years ago in the nascent
social sciences, that groups can be said to have minds. This group mind
hypothesis was important both at the interface of social psychology and
sociology, and in early systematic work on animal and plant communities,
including that on insect colonies as superorganisms. Chapter 11 discusses
these ideas in their historical context. It has, however, a philosophical
moral, one that, I shall argue in Chapter 12, is highly relevant to recent
revivals of the group mind hypothesis in both the biological and social
sciences. The biologist David Sloan Wilson has defended the group mind
hypothesis in the context of his broader defense of group selection in
evolutionary biology. The anthropologist Mary Douglas has suggested
that there is more to Ludwig Fleck™s notion of a Denkkollektiv or “thought
collective” than contemporary social scientists have recognized. As I shall
argue, there is something right about both of these claims “ just what is
the topic of Part Four.18

Individuals, Psychology, and the Mind

1 psychology amongst the fragile sciences
In Chapter 1, I identi¬ed psychology as one of the fragile sciences. It is
the science of the mind. Historically, psychology developed as the institu-
tional home for the scienti¬c study of the mind in a variety of dimensions,
including cognitive, biological, and social dimensions. Along with these
distinct aspects to the mind, psychology has also encompassed many dif-
ferent organizing theories or paradigms. Consider just those that have
structured research within the cognitive dimension to psychology. These
range from introspectionism, Gestalt psychology, and behaviorism in the
¬rst half of the recent history of psychology, to computationally based
paradigms, such as the “rules and representations” approach that began
the cognitive revolution in the 1950s, and connectionism and dynamic
systems theory that have challenged that approach more recently.
The contemporary discipline of psychology “ sprawling, heteroge-
neous, and perhaps unitary in only the most attenuated of senses “ is
the result of this ecumenical and paradigm-shifting history. Departments
of psychology in major research institutions are characteristically orga-
nized into divisions or sub¬elds whose descriptive adjectives “ such as
cognitive, developmental, social, perceptual, decision making, clinical,
quantitative, and personality “ correspond to clusters of research inter-
ests, publication venues, and professional organizations. These divisions
frequently carry with them distinct courses, degree requirements, hiring
procedures, graduate admissions policies, and laboratory and seminar
meetings. In moderate to large psychology departments, it is common
for researchers to work exclusively within their division, and even to have

Disciplining the Individual and the Mind

little or no professional contact with the majority of their departmental
colleagues in other divisions throughout their careers.
As well as being characterized as the science of the mind, “the science
of mental life,” as William James put it more than one hundred years
ago, psychology is also commonly viewed as being wedged between bi-
ology and the social sciences. This is so not only in representations of
hierarchies of sciences familiar from the logical positivist tradition within
the philosophy of science, but in characterizations of the methodologies
appropriate for the scienti¬c study of mental life, which are drawn from
both the biological and the social sciences.
There is something right about both of these common views of psychol-
ogy and the mind: The study of the mind is psychology™s prerogative, even
if psychology is a discipline sealed from neither the biological nor the so-
cial sciences. As our brief discussion of culture and nativism in Chapter 1
illustrated, the study of the mind can be directly relevant to, indeed, a
part of, the social sciences. Consider areas of the social sciences that are
concerned primarily with the operation of institutions or large-scale so-
cial changes rather than the minds of individuals. These operations and
changes are mediated by the actions of individuals. Accounts of them
typically propose or presuppose some principles governing the minds of
those individuals, whether this be rational choice theory (in economics)
or schema theory (in anthropology).
Aspects of the mind and mental life are also claimed by the biological
and medical sciences as their operational domain. Pathological develop-
ment of the mind, such as that leading to mental retardation or a variety
of syndromes typically named after a person instrumental in their iso-
lation and demarcation (for example, Williams, Asperger, and Down™s
syndromes), is often studied by geneticists and by medical doctors. In-
stitutionally, psychiatry is a specialization within medicine, rather than
a ¬eld of psychology. This is motivated in part by the idea that mental
disorder should be assimilated to bodily disease. Moreover, techniques
developed within the biological sciences, such as single-cell recording or
positron-emission tomography (PET), have found widespread use in the
last twenty years in studying distinctively mental abilities and traits.
Despite contemporary psychology being a house of many mansions,
at its core is a focus on distinctly mental processes of individuals, human
agents. Minds belong to individuals, and the processes that constitute
minds occur inside the boundary of those individuals. Core topics within
the study of cognition, such as memory, language, or learning, are con-
strued in this individualistic way. But such a view permeates psychology
Individuals, Psychology, and the Mind 29

Psychology interpersonal Social Sciences


Biological Sciences
¬gure 2.1. Psychology amongst the Fragile Sciences

more generally. How does what is inside an individual, particularly what
is inside her head, enable her to act on her environment, interact with
others, and dynamically adapt her behavior? Without distinctly mental
processes, we are in the realm of mere biology. And if we move on to en-
compass an exploration of the relationship between individuals, of pro-
cesses and actions that extend beyond the boundary of the individual,
we move from psychology to the social sciences. We might encapsulate
this idea by saying that psychology is both mind laden (rather than mind
free) and individual bound (rather than interpersonal) and depict the
place of psychology within the fragile sciences through Figure 2.1: Since
psychology leaks into the rest of the fragile sciences, we should properly
locate some of its sub- (or related) disciplines, such as neurophysiol-


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