where is my face? Bryce Huebner

Department of Philosophy
234 New North
Georgetown University
37th and O ST NW
Washington, DC 20057

Email: l b h 2 4 A T
g e o r g e t o w n D O T e d u

Principle Areas of Research: Philosophy of psychology; Philosophy of cognitive science; Philosophy of mind; Empirical moral psychology; Metaphysics

Brief Biography: I grew up in one of the suburbs of Salt Lake City, Utah. My mother worked as a piecemeal seamstress, my father worked driving locomotive and painting military camouflage (yes, that's two 40hr weeks, plus overtime). I read a lot of books, tossed a lot of boxes out of trailers, and even spent a bit of time building railroad. After college, I bounced around the US for a number of years; and then, in the spring of 2008, I completed my Ph.D in the department of philosophy at UNC - Chapel Hill. I spent two years working as a visiting researcher and postdoctoral fellow in the Cognitive Evolution Laboratory at Harvard University; I also spent a concurrent year as a postdoctoral Research Associate in the Center for Cognitive Studies at Tufts University (working with one of my greatest philosophical influences, Dan Dennett). In the fall of 2009, I began working as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Philosophy at Georgetown University.

My research is highly interdisciplinary (perhaps to the extreme) and I tend to publish my research in both philosophical and psychological venues. Methodologically, I hold that in answering philosophical questions, it is necessary to employ a variety of tools and techniques that cross-cut philosophical, scientific, and commonsense domains of discourse. This has led me to develop three interrelated research projects:
  • The bulk of my current research is dedicated to developing a more complete understanding of the ways in which cognitive mechanisms must be coordinated and integrated if something is to count as a genuinely cognitive system. On the basis of this research, I advocate the claim that there are some genuinely collective mental states (see "Do you see what we see", "Genuinely collective emotions", and "Minimal minds"). I am have recently finished a draft of a book manuscript in which I develop a more complete argument for the claim that some groups, as such, have the capacity to be in cognitive states in precisely the same sense that individuals do (If you are interested in seeing this manuscript, please feel free to contact me).
  • My research on the possibility of collective mental states has also led me to investigate the ways in which a distributed computational achictecture allows minds like ours to solve complex representational tasks in an ever changing world (see "Troubles with stereotypes for our Spinozan psychologies" and "Banishing 'I' and 'we' from accounts of metacognition"). I think that the (ruthlessly naturalized) metaphysics of mind that I develop in my work on collective mentality offers a promising strrategy for developing a radically anti-Cartesian account of individual mentality, and in future research I intend to develop these implications.
  • Finally, I am interested in the role of thought experiments and intuitions in philosophy and cognitive science. Specifically, I am interested in the ways in which thought experiments can be used as part of a scientific methodology as well as the ways in which results of experiments in social psychology, cognitive anthropology, and moral psychology can function as evidence for philosophical positions. On the basis of these interests, I have carried out a number of survey-based experiments in which I have examined the commonsense understanding of mental states (see "Commonsense concepts of phenomenal consciosuness" and "What does the Nation of China think about phenomenal states") and the patterns in commonsense moral judgments. I have recently come to be more and more skeptical of survey methods, and in future theoretical papers I plan to address a set of methodological worries about these methods.