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AISB event Bulletin Item

CALL FOR PAPERS: Re-conceptualizing Mental "Illness": Enactive Philosophy and Cognitive Science, An Ongoing Dialogue, AISB 50, 1st-4th April 2014, London, UK- EXTENDED DEADLINE

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 
underdefined. 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 re-negotiation. 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 herself. 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 issues. 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 community. 

Call for papers

Submissions should 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 at
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


Joel Parthemore
Centre for Cognitive Semiotics
Lund University, Lund, 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


There will be separate proceedings for each symposium, produced before the convention.  Details 
will follow as they become available. It is expected that selected papers from the symposium will 
be published in a special issue of a major journal.

Important dates:

13 January - deadline for submission of full papers - new extended deadline
3 February - notification of acceptance
24 February - final versions of papers due for inclusion in the proceedings