Fragmentation of Cognition: the trouble with interdisciplinary explanations

October 24, 2019 - October 26, 2019
Mind, Language and Action Group / Institute of Philosophy / Faculty of Arts and Humanities, University of Porto

Via Panorâmica s/n (TORRE B)
Porto 4150-564

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University of Twente
University of Exeter
Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona
University of Helsinki
University of California, Santa Cruz
University of Waterloo
King's College London


Universidade do Porto
Maria Curie-Sklodowska University

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2019 Special focus: "Fragmentation of Cognition: the trouble with interdisciplinary explanations"

 This year’s conference is devoted to the increasingly interdisciplinary nature of research on cognition, but also within science in general, and invites reflections on the phenomenon of interdisciplinarity as such. Indeed, the term “interdisciplinarity” has become a buzzword and stands in serious danger of being overused, and thus of losing its explanatory power. In part, this is because it is frequently assumed that interdisciplinary research is inherently “more valuable” than traditional, purely disciplinary research; hence the term is strategically used to garner the attention of researchers, students, and grant agencies. To counter such almost reflex-like endorsement, we seek a renewed understanding of what the “added value” of interdisciplinarity might be, in particular with respect to research in the cognitive sciences, what obstacles and difficulties it faces, and how those might be overcome (both in theory and practice). Importantly, we are interested in understanding whether interdisciplinary approaches increase or decrease the current fragmentation of cognitive sciences. The questions we hope to tackle include (but are not limited to):

 (1) What kind of interdisciplinarity (e.g., theoretical, methodological, or institutional) is at stake in a given domain of inquiry, and what difficulties does it face?

(2) What are the specific challenges and difficulties for developing successful explanatory practices in interdisciplinary research?

(3) Is integration (e.g., theoretical, explanatory, methodological, or institutional) a desirable goal or outcome of interdisciplinary research? To what extent should good interdisciplinary research have a disruptive or destabilizing effect on existing disciplinary boundaries and traditions?

(4) Should interdisciplinary research be pluralistic, and if so, to what extent (if any) is it different from multi- or transdisciplinary research?

(5) What is the role of participants from fields other than science (e.g., artists, industry, and corporate entities, public-private partnerships), and how do they impact the conduct of interdisciplinary research?

(6) Why are current interdisciplinary scientific practices and methods mostly fragmented?

(7) What kinds of problems does the interdisciplinary individuation (and stabilization) of objects of interest face or phenomena?

(8) What are the interdisciplinary consequences of discipline-specific data production, curation, and sharing?

(9) What kind of interdisciplinary character does current research on cognition have?

(10) To what extent are the specific problems faced by research in cognitive sciences typical of interdisciplinary research in general?

The promises and perils of interdisciplinary research have been vigorously discussed within the philosophy, history, and sociology of science. Our goal is to reignite, expand, and refine these debates, with a clear sense of how they reflect – but also have the potential to transform – the complex entanglements between science, society, and public policy-making. We encourage participants to take up these issues (as well as topics of previous editions of our conference - see) in the form of thematic panels, special symposia, individual talks, or posters.

 Keywords: interdisciplinarity; multidisciplinarity; transdisciplinarity; philosophy of science; social studies of science; science policy; science communication; rhetoric of science; cognitive sciences; neuroscience; psychology; sociology; linguistics; anthropology; cognitive ecology; STS; ethics; feminist perspectives on science; science and aesthetics; theories of scientific explanation; the use of models in interdisciplinary science; research methods and practices; human-technology interaction.

 Special events:

"Feminist Theory and Science: The Inspiring and Tangled Relationship." Special Session on Feminisms in Science

"The Explanatory Power of Predictive Processing and Its Limits." Special Session on Predictive Processing

"Representationalism and psychopathology." Special Session on Philosophy of Psychiatry

"Laboratory of dance." Special Session on Research on Dance


Mind, Language and Action Group / Institute of Philosophy / Faculty of Arts and Humanities of University of Porto (Local organizer)

The Institute of Philosophy and Sociology / Polish Academy of Sciences (Co-organizer)

Institute of Philosophy / Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński University (Co-organizer)

Avant Project / Centre for Philosophical Research (Main organizer of the conference series)

Organizing Committee:

Sofia Miguens (University of Porto) – Chair of the Organizing Committee, Marcin Miłkowski (Polish Academy of Sciences) – Chair of the Organizing Committee of the Conference Series, Krystyna Bielecka (University of Warsaw), Anna Ciaunica (University of Porto), Luca Corti (University of Porto), Aleksandra Derra (Nicolaus Copernicus University), Klara Łucznik (University of Plymouth), Przemysław Nowakowski (Polish Academy of Sciences), Michał Piekarski (Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński University), Filip Stawski (Avant Project), Manela Teles (University of Porto), Georg Theiner (Villanova University) , Marcin Trybulec (Maria Curie-Sklodowska University), Witold Wachowski (Polish Academy of Sciences) – Conference Coordinator


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May 31, 2019, 5:00am +01:00

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