Towards an externalist neuroeconomics

Here is a recent paper kindly brought to my attention by the author.

To achieve the aim of establishing the case for externalist neuroeconomics, I rely on other approaches to externalism in the cognitive sciences which focus on the role of external causal processes establishing mental phenomena in terms of interactions between neuronal states and external facts. These approaches are to be found in the growing literature on “distributed cognition” or the “extended mind” (e.g., Clark, 2011; Hutchins, 1995; Hutchins, 2005; Sterelny, 2004; Ross, Spurrett, Kincaid, & Stephens, 2007; for a critical view, see, e.g., Sprevak, 2009). In this literature, the operations of the human mind are seen as being fundamentally dependent on external facts, referring not only to the obvious role of devices which leverage cognitive skills, but more fundamentally to the externalization of all cognitive processes in the sense that cognitive performance essentially involves the external world and includes both physical entities and social interaction. Therefore, a straightforward sketch of an externalist approach that is different from the externalism of standard economics is possible. This would offer a fresh view on neuroeconomics (for a related argument, see Wilcox, 2008). In this view, if one continued to use the term “utility” in explaining human choice, “utility” would not correspond exclusively to a neuronal state in a neuro-reductionist approach, but to a causal conjunction between a neuronal state and an external fact.