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The extended-mind thesis (EM) is the claim that mentality need not be situated just in the brain, or even within the boundaries of the skin. Some versions take “extended selves” be to relatively transitory couplings of biological organisms and external resources. First, I show how EM can be seen as an extension of traditional views of mind. Then, after voicing a couple of qualms about EM, I reject EM in favor of a more modest hypothesis that recognizes enduring subjects of experience and agents with integrated bodies. Nonetheless, my modest hypothesis allows subpersonal states to have nonbiological parts that play essential roles in cognitive processing. I present empirical warrant for this modest hypothesis and show how it leaves room for science and religion to coexist.

Keywords: EM; bionic; constitution view; enduring persons; evolution; extended minds; externalism; intentional agents; neural prostheses; parts; personal; quasi-naturalism; religion; science; subjects of experience; subpersonal; vehicle

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Distinguished Professor in the Department of Philosophy, 352 Bartlett Hall, University of Massachusetts, 130 Hicks Way, Amherst, MA 01003-9269;, Email:

Publication date: September 1, 2009

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