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AISB event Bulletin Item

CALL FOR PAPERS: The Second AISB Symposium on Re-conceptualizing Mental "Illness": Enactive Philosophy and Cognitive Science - An Ongoing Dialogue, AISB-50, 1-4 April 2014, Goldsmiths, London, UK


This symposium carries on from the highly successful three-day symposium 
organized at last year's AISB convention in Plymouth.  Submissions for 
oral presentations are by full paper, for poster presentations by 
abstract.  For those who took part last year, the focus will be even 
more on the payoff that enactive philosophy and theoretical cognitive 
science working together can bring to mental health practice.

 In the late 20th and early 21st Century, the dominant trend in 
philosophy of psychiatry and mental health has been toward pathologizing 
a wide range of mental phenomena under the headings of "disease", 
"illness", "disorder", or "disability" and treating the ones labeled 
"disease" or "illness" on a par with physical disease/illness, to be 
treated primarily by drug-based interventions: the so-called 
bio-psychiatric model. The terms "disorder" and "disability" are broader 
but still tend to stigmatize in unhelpful ways and are woefully 

 Meanwhile, recent trends in cognitive science and philosophy of mind  
notably Andy Clark and Dave Chalmers' /extended-mind hypothesis/ and the 
enactive school associated with Evan Thompson, Francisco Varela, and 
others  have challenged the familiar equating of the boundaries of the 
physical body with those of the mind. While the various approaches 
differ at key points, all agree that, although the mind must be 
physically realized, it extends in substantive ways into the 
environment, its boundaries subject to constant negotiation and 

 As such extended-mind critics as Robert Rupert point out, 
re-conceptualizing the boundaries of mind and world in this way can only 
be justified if there is some empirical payoff. A small but increasingly 
vocal group within the extended-mind/enactive community believe that one 
of the best places to look for such payoff is in the field of mental 
health. They suggest moving away from a model based on physical illness 
towards one that emphasizes each person's history and embedding in a 
social context: such identified conditions as Asperger Syndrome and 
high-functioning autism are better understood as instances of cognitive 
diversity rather than impairment; while conditions such as schizophrenia 
or manic-depressive disorder must be understood, and treated, as 
problems of the patient's immediate community and not just the patient 

 Furthermore, they must be understood, and treated, in light of the 
patient's history of interactions with her environment and not just the 
presenting symptoms. The risk of much contemporary treatment is that, 
like aspirin, it treats the symptoms and does not address the underlying 

 As an emerging community and not just a scattered collection of "lone 
voices", the field is brand new, and it is cutting edge.  It touches on 
the nature of the mind and its relationship to environment, the 
possibilities for computer models of mind that draw on exciting new 
paradigms, and the breadth of cognitive science from theoretical 
explorations in philosophy of mind to concrete applications and new 
directions in treatment. The two-day symposium will look both at the 
movement towards re-conceptualizing mental health and at its ethical 
consequences, along with ways it might most fruitfully employ the new 
perspectives and computer modeling tools of the wider cognitive science 

 Call for Papers

 Submissions must be by full paper or, in the case of poster 
presentation, abstract, suitably prepared for blind review.  Papers 
should be kept to a maximum of 5,000 words and intended for presentation 
in a 25-minute format.  Abstracts should be approximately 500 words.  
Submission is via the EasyChair website.

 Topics may include but need not be limited to:

       * philosophy of psychiatry
       * computational models of mental health diversities and disorders
       * conceptual schemes and re-conceptualization as they relate to
         mental health
       * semiotic perspectives on mental health
       * extended-mind hypothesis and mental health
       * empirical philosophy and mental health
       * cognitive science and mental health
       * movement away from pathologizing mental health issues
       * the Solutions Focus approach
       * ethical and political consequences of an extended/enactive
         approach to mental health issues

 Important Dates

     *3 January* - deadline for submission of full papers.
     *3 February* - notification of acceptance.
     *24 February* - final versions of papers due for inclusion in the

 Program Committee

         Symposium Chairs:

 Joel Parthemore 
 Centre for Cognitive Semiotics
 Lund University, Sweden

 Blay Whitby 
 Centre for Research in Cognitive Science
 University of Sussex, Brighton, UK

           Program Committee:

 Fred Cummins 
 School of Computer Science and Informatics
 University College Dublin, Ireland

 Sanneke de Haan 
 Researcher in philosophy and psychiatry
 Academic Medical Center
 University of Amsterdam

 Dan Hutto 

 Professor of Philosophical Psychology
 University of Hertfordshire, Hatfield, UK

 Hanne De Jaegher 
 Department of Logic and Philosophy of Science
 University of the Basque Country, Spain

 Marek McGann 

 Lecturer, Mary Immaculate College
 University of Limerick, Ireland

 Mark McKergow 
 Centre for Solutions Focus at Work, London, UK

 Alexandra Perry 
 Assistant Professor, McDonough Leadership Program
 Marietta College, Marietta, Ohio, USA

 Gran Sonesson 
 Centre for Cognitive Semiotics
 Lund University, Sweden