CFP: Cosmos + Taxis


The interdisciplinary journal Cosmos + Taxis is issuing a call for papers for its second conference on spontaneous orders, to be held at the Rochester Institute of Technology from May 8 to May 9, 2015.

Both days will feature morning and afternoon sessions and informal lunches and dinners. The theme of the conference is “Spontaneous Order in Economic and Political Thought from Smith to Hayek and Beyond.”

We are looking for papers that explore spontaneous orders or complexity theory in the history of political and/or economic thought, including but not limited to work on thinkers such as Adam Smith, Edmund Burke, Herbert Simon, Michael Polanyi, and, of course, Friedrich Hayek. More contemporary work that builds on these traditions is also welcome.

Papers that are selected for presentation will be considered for inclusion in Cosmos + Taxis, an open-source peer-reviewed journal.

Participants will be provided with lodging and meals while in Rochester, NY and may apply for additional travel assistance, depending on funding availability and need. The deadline for abstract submission is October 1, 2015.

The abstract must be an extended one of between 500 and 600 words, not including an optional list of up to 10 key literature references. The abstracts will be reviewed by a multidisciplinary panel. Due to the interactive format of the conference, we will select between 12 and 14 of the proposed papers for inclusion in the final program. Final versions of accepted papers are due April 1, 2015. All accepted papers are allotted 45 minutes of program time.

Extended abstracts and papers should be submitted by email as a Word document to


Troy Camplin Reviews Napoleon in America

A terrific highly thoughtful review of Napoleon in America by the renaissance man that is Troy Camplin. Be sure to check out Troy’s eclectic blog and his book DiaphysicsMany will know that I’m a great fan of Troy’s work — he did a lovely chapter for me entitled “Getting to the Hayekian Network“. 



Swarm and Fuzzy

Stigmergy gets a bit of a mention in Newsweek.

Swarms often work by “stigmergy,” a term coined by French biologist Pierre-Paul Grassé in 1959 to describe termite behavior. He defined it as “the stimulation of workers by the performance they have achieved.” It has come to mean a mark left in the environment. Think of stigmergic marks as road signs: A termite makes a ball of mud laced with pheromones (chemicals that affect behavior through smell) and puts it down. The next mud-ball-making termite that happens along smells the first, makes its own ball and adds it to the pile. Millions of balls later, a hollow mud spire stands 8 feet tall, as outlandish as the towers of Turkey’s Cappadocia region—a magnificent termite-apartment complex.

Each individual in a swarm acts seemingly at random—scientists term this “stochastic”—yet as a group a swarm is amazingly focused, coherent and logical.

Translating nature to math can be staggeringly difficult.

Check out a preview of Francis Heylighen’s paper for Ted and my forthcoming Human Stigmergy: Theoretical Developments and New Applications, Studies in Applied Philosophy, Epistemology and Rational Ethics. Springer.



Critical neuroscience and socially extended minds

Another paper by Shaun this time coauthored with Jan Slaby (check out Jan’s website – lot’s of good stuff here). 

The concept of a socially extended mind suggests that our cognitive processes are extended not simply by the various tools and technologies we use, but by other minds in our intersubjective interactions, and more systematically by institutions that, like tools and technologies, enable and sometimes constitute our cognitive processes. In this paper we explore the potential of this concept to facilitate the development of a critical neuroscience. We first explicate the concept of cognitive institution and show how it builds on a more enactive version of the extended mind. We then turn to the idea that science itself is a good example of a cognitive institution that through various practices and rules shapes our cognitive activity so as to constitute a certain type of knowledge, packaged with relevant skills and techniques. Building on this idea, we focus on neuroscience, its cultural impact, and the various institutional entanglements that complicate its influence on reframing conceptions of self and subjectivity, and defining what questions count as important and what kind of answers will be valued. Our intent is to show that by understanding neuroscience as a cognitive institution – that is, as a set of practices that help us to think and solve problems within a specific domain – we gain a critical perspective on what neuroscience accomplishes.