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Boundary objects, trading zones, and stigmergy: the social and the cognitive in science

Sims, Ric (2023) Boundary objects, trading zones, and stigmergy: the social and the cognitive in science. [Preprint]

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Abstract

The main proposal of this paper is that boundary objects and the trading zones in which they occur are the analogue of pheromone trails in the foraging of a termite colony. The colony can be construed as a stigmergic system where the traces of the actions of individual termites coordinate their further actions without the existence of any central control or planning structures. The coordinated systems approach proposed by this paper lends support to the idea that such a system is minimally cognitive in the sense that it is responsible for goal-directed behaviour. Boundary objects and trading zones in scientific practice play a similar functional role to pheromone traces because they are responsible for the same kind of coordination. This approach therefore provides a cognitive account of the social notions of boundary object and trading zone without making representationalist or computationalist assumptions. Moreover, it is scale-invariant – the same analytical technique can be applied at multiple scales simultaneously. It therefore provides a framework for an understanding of the complementarity of cognitive and social approaches to scientific investigation and points to areas for further ethnographic research.


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Item Type: Preprint
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Sims, Ricsharpcomposer@hotmail.com0000-0001-6524-7248
Additional Information: accepted in Synthese
Keywords: Trading zones, boundary objects, cybernetic enactivism, distributed cognition, coordinated systems approach
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Cognitive Science
General Issues > History of Philosophy of Science
General Issues > Social Epistemology of Science
Depositing User: Dr Ric Sims
Date Deposited: 06 Sep 2023 16:54
Last Modified: 06 Sep 2023 16:54
Item ID: 22506
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Cognitive Science
General Issues > History of Philosophy of Science
General Issues > Social Epistemology of Science
Date: 5 September 2023
URI: https://philsci-archive-dev.library.pitt.edu/id/eprint/22506

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