Professor Michael Wheeler

Professor

Philosophy University of Stirling, Stirling, FK9 4LA

Professor Michael Wheeler

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About me

About me

I am a member of the Stirling Philosophy unit's research cluster in Mind and Knowledge, My primary research interests are in philosophy of science (especially cognitive science, psychology, artificial intelligence and biology) and philosophy of mind.

Prior to (re-)joining the Stirling Philosophy unit in 2004, I held teaching and research posts at the Universities of Dundee, Oxford, and Stirling (a previous appointment). My doctoral work was carried out at the University of Sussex.

I have given invited research papers at symposia and conferences all over the UK, and in Austria, Belgium, Canada, Croatia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, South Africa, Spain and the USA. I was an invited lecturer at the 2013 Philosophy Summer School in China, held in Qinhuangdao.

Symposia specifically on my work have been organised by philosophy departments at the Goethe University of Frankfurt, the Free University of Amsterdam, and Tilburg University. In 2016 I was the Brackenridge Distinguished Visiting Professor, at the University of Texas at San Antonio.

My research has an established interdisciplinary dimension and many of the invited talks I have given have been at conferences in disciplines other than philosophy, ranging from artificial intelligence to literary studies, from media studies to archaeology, from psychology to art and design. I have successfully collaborated on publications and externally funded research projects with colleagues in many other disciplines, in the sciences and the humanities.

I have an established public engagement profile, with a track record of:

  • collaborations with, and invited presentations at events organised by, international stakeholders in research such as Science Europe, the European Forum Alpbach and the Ontario legislature;
  • public-facing lectures or panel contributions at major venues and festivals, including theEdinburgh Science Festival;
  • talks to internal audiences at, for example, the Scottish Government, Microsoft Research and the Institute of Chartered Bankers;
  • media interventions as writer, interviewee and adviser;
  • organising and contributing to workshops for societal stakeholders such as primary school children (at the National Museum of Scotland) and maximum security prisoners (at HMP Shotts, in collaboration with the Talbot Rice Gallery).

The workshop just mentioned was part of a recent AHRC-funded project on which I was Co-Investigator: the Art of Distributed Cognition. This project resulted in an international exhibition – The Extended Mind – at the Talbot Rice Gallery in Edinburgh, one of Scotland’s principal art galleries (exhibition website: https://www.trg.ed.ac.uk/exhibition/extended-mind). Featuring 12 international artists and attracting 3500 visitors, the exhibition demonstrated how distributed cognition provides novel ways to understand the creation and experience of artworks. Principal Investigator Miranda Anderson (Anniversary Fellow in Philosophy and Literature, University of Stirling) and I co-authored the exhibition catalogue with the gallery curator James Clegg.

The forerunner of The Art Of Distributed Cognition was The History of Distributed Cognition', a multi-institutional and multi-disciplinary AHRC-funded project spanning Edinburgh, Durham, Oxford and Stirling, and Classics, English, History and Philosophy, on which I was a Co-Investigator. Our project partner was the National Museums of Scotland. 

I was scientific consultant on the John Templeton Foundation funded project ‘Knowledge Beyond Natural Science' (Principal Investigator Crispin Wright, Stirling). I held previous AHRC awards for individual research leave and for a series of interdisciplinary seminars on ‘The Interactive Mind' as part of the Council's programme of strategic initiatives. I was also a steering committee member of ‘Cognitive Futures in the Humanities', an AHRC funded network with the goal of bringing cognitive science and the humanities into productive interaction.

Research (4)

My primary research interests are in philosophy of science (especially cognitive science, psychology, artificial intelligence and biology) and philosophy of mind. I am also interested in developing philosophical ideas at the interface between the analytic and the continental traditions in philosophy. My current research is focussed on four areas:

  1. The nature of, and the prospects for, so-called 4E (embodied-embedded-extended-enactive) approaches to cognition, with a particular interest in the subtle and complex ways in which human beings intimately couple with technology to transform, enhance, and sometimes impede, cognitive performance.
  2. Philosophical issues in artificial intelligence, especially the implications of recent advances in autonomous AI and machine learning.
  3. Philosophical issues in the cognitive humanities, especially as these engage ideas from 4E cognition. ‘The cognitive humanities’ is the name for a fast-developing, interdisciplinary field which aims to bring cognitive science and the humanities into productive interaction.
  4. The apparent tension between naturalism and transcendentalism, as that tension affects attempts to bring phenomenological thought into productive contact with cognitive science.

I have co-authored research publications with colleagues in philosophy, psychology, artificial intelligence, artificial life, linguistics and English. I have been a member of collaborative research projects involving disciplines other than my own (including archaeology, architecture, art and design, artificial intelligence, artificial life, classics, computer science, English, history, music and psychology). Some of these projects have involved contributions from non-academic stakeholders in research (including the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario, the National Museums of Scotland, the Talbot-Rice art gallery in Edinburgh, and representatives from the computer and Web industries). I was also involved in a collaborative project in which artificial life simulation techniques were used to investigate the evolution of honesty in animal communication systems.

Projects

Collaborative Embodied Skill in Space and Memory
PI: Professor Michael Wheeler
Funded by: The Leverhulme Trust

The Art of Distributed Cognition
PI:
Funded by: Arts and Humanities Research Council

A History of Distributed Cognition
PI: Professor Michael Wheeler
Funded by: Arts and Humanities Research Council

CRF/RSE European Visiting Research Fellowship - Massimiliano Cappuccio
PI: Professor Michael Wheeler
Funded by: The Royal Society of Edinburgh

Outputs (60)

Outputs

Book Chapter

Wheeler M (2020) Autonomy. In: Dubber MD, Pasquale F & Das S (eds.) Oxford Handbook of Ethics of AI. Oxford Handbooks. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 343-358. https://global.oup.com/academic/product/the-oxford-handbook-of-ethics-of-ai-9780190067397?cc=gb&lang=en&

Edited Book

Anderson M, Rousseau G & Wheeler M (eds.) (2019) Distributed Cognition in Enlightenment and Romantic Culture. The Edinburgh History of Distributed Cognition Series. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. https://edinburghuniversitypress.com/book-distributed-cognition-in-enlightenment-and-romantic-culture.html

Edited Book

Anderson M & Wheeler M (eds.) (2019) Distributed Cognition in Medieval and Renaissance Culture. The Edinburgh History of Distributed Cognition Series. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. https://edinburghuniversitypress.com/book-distributed-cognition-in-medieval-and-renaissance-culture.html

Book Chapter

Anderson M, Wheeler M & Sprevak M (2018) Distributed cognition and the humanities. In: Anderson M, Cairns D & Sprevak M (eds.) Distributed Cognition in Classical Antiquity. The Edinburgh History of Distributed Cognition Series. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, pp. 1-17. https://edinburghuniversitypress.com/book-distributed-cognition-in-classical-antiquity.html

Website Content

Wheeler M (2017) The Being of Replicants. The Institute of Art and Ideas website, news section, Philosophy for, 24.10.2017. https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/the-being- of-replicants-auid-911.

Book Chapter

Wheeler M (2015) A Tale of Two Dilemmas: Cognitive Kinds and the Extended Mind. In: Kendig C (ed.) Natural Kinds and Classification in Scientific Practice. History and Philosophy of Biology. London: Routledge, pp. 175-185. https://www.routledge.com/Natural-Kinds-and-Classification-in-Scientific-Practice/Kendig/p/book/9781848935402

Book Chapter

Wheeler M (2013) Science Friction: Phenomenology, Naturalism and Cognitive Science. In: Carel H & Meacham D (eds.) Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement, Vol.72: Phenomenology and Naturalism. Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement, vol. 72. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 135-167. http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S1358246113000076

Edited Book

Kiverstein J & Wheeler M (eds.) (2012) Heidegger and Cognitive Science. New Directions in Philosophy and Cognitive Science. Basingstoke: Palgrave-Macmillan. http://www.palgrave.com/products/title.aspx?pid=297771

Book Chapter

Wheeler M (2012) Naturalizing Dasein and other (Alleged) Heresies. In: Kiverstein J & Wheeler M (eds.) Heidegger and Cognitive Science. New Directions in Philosophy and Cognitive Science. Basingstoke: Palgrave-Macmillan, pp. 176-212. http://www.palgrave.com/products/title.aspx?pid=297771

Book Chapter

Wheeler M (2011) Embodied Cognition and the Extended Mind. In: Garvey J (ed.) The Continuum Companion to Philosophy of Mind. Bloomsbury Companions. London: Continuum, pp. 220-238. http://www.bloomsbury.com/us/the-continuum-companion-to-philosophy-of-mind-9780826431882/

Book Chapter

Wheeler M & Di Paolo E (2011) Existentialism and Cognitive Science. In: Joseph F, Reynolds J & Woodward A (eds.) The Continuum Companion to Existentialism. Bloomsbury Companions. London: Continuum, pp. 241-259. http://www.bloomsbury.com/us/the-continuum-companion-to-existentialism-9780826438454/

Book Chapter

Wheeler M (2011) Martin Heidegger. In: Zalta E (ed.) Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Spring 2013 ed. Stanford, CA, USA: The Metaphysics Research Lab. http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/spr2013/entries/heidegger/

Book Chapter

Wheeler M (2010) The Problem of Representation. In: Gallagher S & Schmicking D (eds.) Handbook of Phenomenology and Cognitive Science. Berlin: Springer, pp. 318-336. http://link.springer.com/book/10.1007/978-90-481-2646-0/page/1

Book Chapter

Wheeler M (2010) In Defense of Extended Functionalism. In: Menary R (ed.) The Extended Mind. Life and Mind series: Philosophical Issues in Biology and Psychology. Cambridge, MA, USA: MIT Press, pp. 245-270. http://mitpress.mit.edu/books/extended-mind

Book Chapter

Wheeler M (2010) Minds, Things and Materiality. In: Malafouris L & Renfrew C (eds.) The Cognitive Life of Things: Recasting the Boundaries of the Mind. McDonald Institute monographs. Cambridge: McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research Publications, pp. 29-37. http://www.oxbowbooks.com/oxbow/cognitive-life-of-things.html

Book Chapter

Cappuccio M & Wheeler M (2010) When the Twain Meet: Could the Study of Mind be a Meeting of Minds?. In: Reynolds J, Chase J, Williams J & Mares E (eds.) Postanalytic and Metacontinental: Crossing Philosophical Divides. Continuum Studies in Philosophy. London: Continuum, pp. 125-144. http://www.bloomsbury.com/us/postanalytic-and-metacontinental-9780826424419/

Book Chapter

Wheeler M (2009) Evolutionary Models in Psychology. In: Symons J & Calvo P (eds.) The Routledge Companion to Philosophy of Psychology. Routledge Philosophy Companions. Abingdon: Taylor & Francis (Routledge), pp. 416-429. http://www.routledge.com/books/details/9780415396325/

Edited Book

Husbands P, Holland O & Wheeler M (eds.) (2008) The Mechanical Mind in History. Cambridge, MA, USA: MIT Press. http://mitpress.mit.edu/books/mechanical-mind-history

Book Chapter

Wheeler M (2008) God’s Machines: Descartes on the Mechanization of Mind. In: Husbands P, Holland O & Wheeler M (eds.) The Mechanical Mind in History. Bradford Books. Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press, pp. 307-330. http://mitpress.mit.edu/9780262083775/

Book Chapter

Wheeler M (2007) Is Language the Ultimate Artefact?. In: Wallace B, Ross A, Davies JB & Anderson T (eds.) The Mind, the Body and the World: Psychology After Cognitivism?. Exeter: Imprint Academic, pp. 269-308. http://www.booksonix.com/imprint/bookshop/

Book Chapter

Wheeler M (2007) Traits, Genes, and Coding. In: Matthen M, Stephens C, Gabbay DM, Thagard P & Woods J (eds.) Philosophy of Biology. Handbook of the Philosophy of Science. Amsterdam: Elsevier, pp. 369-399. http://www.elsevierdirect.com/product.jsp?isbn=9780444515438; https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-044451543-8/50019-8