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Beyond the Brain Conference

Beyond the Brain Conference

Academic Conference at the University of Edinburgh on Reconceptualizing Mental Disorders

Abstracts: Joel Krueger

Mental Institutions, Habits of Mind, and an Extended Approach to Autism


Our lifeworlds are full of “mental institutions”: rich networks of norm-governed practices, artifacts, and traditions that shape how we attend to and interact with the world and others. Philosophical discussions of mental institutions have recently arisen in the context of debates about “extended cognition”: the idea that cognition may, at times, physically extend into the environment via the artifacts, practices, and institutions that support our intelligent behavior. But this idea has not received much attention in philosophical psychiatry. In this talk, I argue that the notion of mental institutions can help better understand the origin and character of social impairments in autism, and also help illuminate the extent to which some mechanisms of autistic dysfunction may extend across both internal and external factors (i.e., they do not just reside within an individual’s head). I also discuss how this extended picture might assist in constructing more inclusive mental institutions for both neurotypicals and people with autism alike.


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