Simmel as a Theorist of Habit

The Journal of Classical Sociology has recently made available online a new translation, by John D. Boy, of Simmel’s classic essay on “The Metropolis and the Life of the Spirit” (better known to sociologists and urban studies people in previous translations as “The Metropolis and Mental Life”). Boy has an …

Habit versus Skill

Habit versus Skill Ascriptions Habit and skill tend to be run together in social theory and the philosophy of action (Dalton, 2004). However, there are good conceptual and empirical reasons to keep them distinct (Douskos, 2017b). Notably, the ascription of skill and habits entail different things about action, and only …

What Is Predictive Processing?

In previous posts (see here and here), we have made reference to “predictive processing” (hereafter PP) or the “predictive coding” approach to cognition and action. While predictive processing or the “predictive turn” now comprises a sprawling literature ranging across several disciplines and disciplinary interfields (see Hohwy, 2020). The broad range …

Habit as Prediction

In a previous post, Mike Strand points to the significant rise of the “predictive turn” in the sciences of action and cognition under the banner of “predictive processing” (Clark, 2015; Wiese & Metzinger, 2017). This turn is consequential, according to Mike, because it takes prediction and turns it from something …

Ontic Monism versus Pluralism in Cultural Theory

As discussed in a previous post, bundling ontic claims about culture have been used to argue that culture is a single kind of thing and demarcate the boundaries of cultural kinds. This can be referred to as ontic monism about cultural kinds. Thus, a theorist might say, following Kroeber (1917), …

Explaining social phenomena by multilevel mechanisms

Four questions about multilevel mechanisms In our previous post, we discussed mechanistic philosophy of science and its contribution to the cognitive social sciences. In this blog post, we will discuss three case studies of research programs at the interface of the cognitive sciences and the social sciences. In our cases, …

Causal mechanisms in the cognitive social sciences

The social sciences and the cognitive sciences have grown closer together during recent decades. This is manifested in the emergence and expansion of new research fields, such as social cognitive neuroscience (Cacioppo et al. 2012; Lieberman 2017), cognitive sociology (Brekhus & Ignatow 2019), behavioral economics (Dhami 2016), and new approaches …

Did John Dewey Put Prediction into Action?

Prediction does not appear, at first, to be something that a sociologist, or really any analyst of anything, can safely ascribe to those (or that) which they are studying without running afoul of about a thousand different stringent rules that define how probability can be used for the purposes of …

Cultural Kinds, Natural Kinds, and the Muggle Constraint

Cultural Kinds as Natural Kinds A key implication of our previous discussion on cultural kinds (see here, here, here, and here). Is that cultural kinds should be thought of as being in the same ontic register as the other kinds studied in the physical and special sciences. These include biological, …

Culture “Concepts” as Combination of Ontic Claims

Throughout the history of cultural theory, a number of “culture concepts” have been proposed. The standard way of thinking about these is as competing notions bound to forever stand in conflict. But it is possible to see the various proposals as more than purely “conceptual” or “definitional.” Instead, using the …