TheJournal for the Philosophy of Language, Mind and the Arts is an online, biannual, periodical journal, published by Edizioni Ca’ Foscari Digital Publishing.The Journal is the expression of an active research group based at the Department of Philosophy and Cultural Heritage of Ca’ Foscari University, in Venice (Italy). The same group of scholars previously founded a research centre called CLAVeS, which currently gathers the scientific activities (seminars, conferences, meetings, etc.) that its members hold in Venice. The research topics this Journal investigates stand between Philosophy of Language, Philosophy of Mind, Aesthetics, and Philosophy of Art. Hence, the Journal is intended to offer a chance to develop a thorough and interdisciplinary research (in terms of both interrelations and exchanges within the international scientific community. Furthermore, the Journal is set to provide the opportunity to discuss several theoretical issues, which lie at the core of contemporary philosophical and scientific debate. No particular school or theoretical orientation as well as attitude is excluded a priori. Indeed, contributors are asked to hold an open perspective without any dogmatism, as well as due rigour of argumentation and thematic choices, in order to abide by the richness and variety of theoretical approaches and visions. The Journal is recognised as a scientific journal for areas 10 (Ancient, philological-literary and historical-artistic sciences) and 11 (Historical, philosophical, pedagogical and psychological sciences) by the National Agency for the Evaluation of the University System and Research.
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CALL FOR PAPERS (JOLMA 4 | 2 | 2022)
De-humanizing cognition, intelligence, and agency. A critical assessment between philosophy, ethics, and science.
Editor: Filippo Batisti
A trend that calls into question several fundamental views has been recently rising in several disciplines. The core idea is that a number of notions traditionally associated with humans in the philosophical and scientific tradition, such as “cognition”, “intelligence”, and “agency”, should not instead be limited in their application to us humans only. On this view, new recipients of said concepts should be entities including various non-human animals, plants, or even inorganic materials. This issue of JoLMA aims to critically shed light on the implications of such a philosophical move. To be clear, we want both risks and merits to be discussed, without prejudice.
One key difference between the received view and the new ones may lie in the direction of the movement one could make in reconsidering “cognition”, “intelligence”, and “agency” as broader notions. For instance, let’s consider the extended mind model (Clark, Chalmers 1998). In that case the inclusion of extracranial elements in the account of human cognition was indeed conceived in an outward direction from the body of the individual. In other words, the focal point remained the human person and her abilities, like cognition, which was studied in that it could function through elements in her surroundings other than her own body and mind. That is, they were extending what was human to elements of a different nature.
What we want to discuss, instead, is the idea that there are good reasons to reconceive from the beginning the scope and the application of the three notions mentioned before. Those were almost exclusively “human”, while it now seems that rather than humanizing non-human external tools, e.g. by extension of the cognitive, the idea is to de-humanize notions traditionally predicated prototypically or exclusively on humans.
Thus we call for contributions especially centered on the concepts of “cognition”, “intelligence”, and “agency” within that discussion. While JoLMA is a philosophy journal, given the features of the topic, we will welcome papers from colleagues with expertise in other disciplines as long as they bear clear and well-stated theoretical relevance.
The following are topical suggestions, not exclusive of other starting points for reflection.
PHILOSOPHY OF MIND AND ACTION
Many animal species are now recognized (at least by some) as having full-blown “minds”; plants and vegetal formations display recognizable patterns of agency and cognitive properties like memory (Trewavas 2016, Baluska, Mancuso 2020, Mancuso 2021, Calvo et al. 2020, Segundo-Ortin, Calvo 2021); materials, both natural and artificial, are said to be “intelligent” in that they can timely adapt to environmental conditions and events (Tripaldi 2022).
Where does all this leave the traditional notions of “mind”, “intelligence” and “agency”? Usually they were considered the distinctive mark of the human, at least in their respective highest forms. Should this change be framed in terms of a “deflation” of those definitions? May this be the beginning of an anti-anthropocentric trend in philosophy? How can humans redefine their distinctiveness – if any, in a strong sense – using arguments coming from the philosophy of mind and action?
Critical voices are not rare in this respect (Mallat et al. 2021, Robinson et al. 2020, or even Marconi 2005) – are they just being reasonable, rather than conservative? Could a less heated reflection coming from philosophy possibly help to foster the dialogue (Katthar et al. 2022, Colaço 2022)?
ETHICS AND POLITICS
One reason motivating the dehumanization of those notions is intrinsically ethical, may it be environmentalism, or animalism, or any other form of thinking that aims to stress the importance of the non-human components and agents of Earth (Haraway 1991, Viola 2020, Raffaetà 2023). As a consequence, on such views, more or less radical changes in human behavior and societal issues are advocated.
How exactly can this result be achieved through an argumentation developed in the philosophy of mind and action? How can one argue in favor of (or against) granting rights to plants and/or animals by arguing that they possess certain kinds of mind and/or agency? Or is it entirely misguided to portray plants as ‘similar to us’ animals in order to nobilitate them morally, since this entails some sort of “ontological violence” by bending them to a whole different lexicon (Hendlin 2022)?
EPISTEMOLOGY AND SCIENCE
Does the dehumanization of cognition, intelligence and agency put in danger the paradigms of orthodox science? For example, the notion of individual is being criticized both by biologists and anthropologists for being too limited and explanatorily insufficient (e.g., Gagliasso 2015, Remotti 2019).
Has contemporary empirical scientific practice embraced this trend yet? Or all of these arguments are bound to be confined in the philosophical debate – for better or for worse? What – if anything – are we trading off in loosening the boundaries of those central philosophical notions? Granted that it is true that science needs some operational simplifications in order to function and make predictions, can one say that thinking of, insisting on or even fetishizing the idea of “complexity” is a risk for the progress of science?
Baluska, F.; Mancuso, S. (2020). “Plants, climate and humans: Plant intelligence changes everything”. EMBO REPORTS, 21, e50109.
Calvo, P., Gagliano M., Souza G., Trewavas A. (2020). “Plants are intelligent, here’s how”. Annals of Botany, 125, 1, 11–28.
Clark, A., Chalmers D. (1998). “The Extended Mind”. Analysis, 58(1), 7-19.
Colaço, D. (2022). “Why studying plant cognition is valuable, even if plants aren’t cognitive”. Synthese, 200, 453.
Gagliasso, E. (2015). “Individuals as Ecosystems: An Essential Tension”. Paradigmi. Rivista di critica filosofica, XXXIII, 2, 85-102.
Haraway, D. (1991). “A Cyborg Manifesto: Science, Technology, and Socialist-Feminism in the Late Twentieth Century”. Simians, Cyborgs and Women: The Reinvention of Nature, 149-81. London: Routledge.
Keijzer, F. (2021). “Demarcating cognition: the cognitive life sciences”. Synthese 198 (Suppl. 1), S137–S157.
Khattar, J. et al. (2022). “Understanding interdisciplinary perspectives of plant intelligence: Is it a matter of science, language, or subjectivity?”. Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine 18-41.
Hendlin, Y. H. (2022). “Plant Philosophy and Interpretation: Making Sense of Contemporary Plant Intelligence Debates”. Environmental Values, 31(3), 253-76.
Mallatt, J., Blatt, M.R., Draguhn, A. et al. (2021). “Debunking a myth: plant consciousness”. Protoplasma 258, 459-76.
Mancuso, S. (2021). The Nation of Plants. London: Profile Books.
Marconi, D. (2005). “Contro la mente estesa”. Sistemi intelligenti, 17(3), 389-98.
Raffaetà, R. (2023). Metagenomics Futures. How Microbiome Research Is Reconfiguring Health And What It Means To Be Human. Londra: Routledge.
Remotti, F. (2019). Somiglianze. Una via per la convivenza. Bari: Laterza.
Robinson, D.G., Draguhn A., Taiz L. (2020). “Plant “intelligence” changes nothing”. EMBO REPORTS, 21 e50395.
Trewavas, A. (2016). “Intelligence, Cognition, and Language of Green Plants”. Frontiers in Psychology, 7(588).
Tripaldi, L. (2022). Parallel Minds. Discovering the intelligence of materials. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Viola, A. (2020). Flower power. Le piante e i loro diritti. Torino: Einaudi.
Submission deadline: September 30th, 2023
Notification of acceptance: November 15th, 2023
Articles must be written in English and should not exceed 6,500 words. The instructions for authors can be consulted in the journal’s website: ‘Editorial Guidelines’.
Submissions must be suitable for blind review. Each submission should also include a brief abstract of no more than 650 words and five keywords for indexing purposes. Notification of intent to submit, including both a title and a brief summary of the content, will be greatly appreciated, as it will assist with the coordination and planning of the issue.
For any question, please use the following address: Filippo Batisti (email@example.com) or the journal (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Please submit your proposals to the email email@example.com or using the section ‘Submit’ of the journal’s website.
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Ethical Code of The Journal for the Philosophy of Language, Mind and the Arts
The Journal for the Philosophy of Language, Mind and the Arts is a peer-reviewed scientific journal whose policy is inspired by the COPE (Committee on Publication Ethics) Ethical Code. See the Best Practice Guidelines for Journal Editors.
The Publisher must provide the Journal with adequate resources and the guidance of experts, in order to carry out its role in the most professional way, aiming at the highest quality standard.
The Publisher must have a written agreement that defines the relationship with the owner of the Journal and/or the Editor-in-Chief. The agreement must comply with the Code of Behavior for Publishers of Scientific Journals, as established by COPE.
The relationship among the Editor-in-Chief, the Advisory Board and the Publisher is based on the principle of publishing independence.
The Editor-in-Chief and the Advisory Board of The Journal for the Philosophy of Language, Mind and the Arts alone are responsible for the decision to publish the articles submitted.
Submitted articles, after having been checked for plagiarism by means of the anti-plagiarism software Compilatio that is used by the University and is made available to us, will be sent to at least two reviewers. Final acceptance presumes the implementation of possible amendments, as required by the reviewers and under the supervision of The Journal for the Philosophy of Language, Mind and the Arts Editor-in-Chief.
The Journal for the Philosophy of Language, Mind and the Arts Editor-in-Chief and Advisory Board must evaluate each submitted paper in compliance with the Journalʼs policy, i.e. exclusively on the basis of its scientific content, without discrimination of race, sex, gender, creed, ethnic origin, citizenship, or the scientific, academic and political position of the Authors.
Allegations of misconduct
If The Journal for the Philosophy of Language, Mind and the Arts Editor-in-Chief and Advisory Board notice (or receive notifications of) mistakes or inaccuracies, conflict of interest or plagiarism in a published article, they will immediately warn the Author and the Publisher and will undertake the necessary actions to resolve the issue. They will do their best to correct the published content whenever they are informed that it contains scientific errors or that the authors have committed unethical or illegal acts in connection with their published work. If necessary, they will withdraw the article or publish a recantation.
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Authors must explicitly state that their work is original in all its parts and that the submitted paper has not been previously published, nor submitted to other journals, until the entire evaluation process is completed. Since no paper gets published without significant revision, earlier dissemination in conference proceedings or working papers does not preclude consideration for publication, but Authors are expected to fully disclose publication/dissemination of the material in other closely related publications, so that the overlap can be evaluated by The Journal for the Philosophy of Language, Mind and the Arts Editor-in-Chief.
Authors are strongly encouraged to use their ORCID iD when submitting a manuscript. This will ensure the authors’ visibility and correct citation of their work.
Authorship must be correctly attributed; all those who have given a substantial contribution to the design, organisation and accomplishment of the research the article is based on, must be indicated as Co-Authors. Please ensure that: the order of the author names is correct; the names of all authors are present and correctly spelled, and that affiliations are up-to-date.
The respective roles of each co-author should be described in a footnote. The statement that all authors have approved the final version should be included in the disclosure.
Conflicts of interest and financing
Authors, under their own responsibility, must avoid any conflict of interest affecting the results obtained or the interpretations suggested. The Journal for the Philosophy of Language, Mind and the Arts Editor-in-Chief will give serious and careful consideration to suggestions of cases in which, due to possible conflict of interest, an Author’s work should not be reviewed by a specific scholar. Authors should indicate any financing agency or the project the article stems from.
Authors must see to it that all works consulted be properly quoted. If works or words of others are used, they have to be properly paraphrased or duly quoted. Quotations between “double quotes” (or «angled quotation marks» if the text is written in a language other than English) must reproduce the exact wording of the source; under their own responsibility, Authors should carefully refrain from disguising a restyling of the source’s wording, as though it was the original formulation.
Any form of excessive, inappropriate or unnecessary self-citation, as well as any other form of citation manipulation, are strongly discouraged.
Whenever required, the research protocols must be authorised in advance by the Ethical Committee of Ca’ Foscari University of Venice.
When Authors find a mistake or an inaccuracy in their own article, they must immediately warn The Journal for the Philosophy of Language, Mind and the Arts Editor-in-Chief, providing all the information needed to make the due adjustments.
By means of the peer-review procedure, reviewers assist The Journal for the Philosophy of Language, Mind and the Arts Editor-in-Chief and Advisory Board in taking decisions on the articles submitted. They are expected to offer the Authors suggestions as to possible adjustments aimed at improving their contribution submission.
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If a reviewer does not feel up to the task of doing a given review, or if she/he is unable to read the work within the agreed schedule, she/he should notify The Journal for the Philosophy of Language, Mind and the Arts Editor-in-Chief. Reviewers must not accept articles for which there is a conflict of interest due to previous contributions or to a competition with a disclosed author (or with an author they believe to have identified).
The content of the reviewed work must be considered confidential and must not be used without explicit authorisation by the Author, who is to be contacted via the editor-in-chief. Any confidential information obtained during the peer review process should not be used for other purposes.
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Reviewers should report any similarity or overlapping of the work under analysis with other works known to them.