Autonomy and Sense-Making: Clarifying the Individual in Social Cognition

Presentation author(s)

Eli McGraw ’20, Berryville, Virginia

Major: Cognitive Science
Minor: Philosophy


This paper examines the overarching trajectory of the social cognition conversation with particular focus placed upon the use and role of the individual throughout. Traditional theories posit that individuals apply knowledge about their own internal states to something or someone else in order to infer what that person or thing is experiencing. Embodied and enactive approaches pay closer attention to the individual’s bodily experience, as well as interaction processes themselves. As more research is done in regards to both traditional (Theory of Mind Theory, Simulation Theory) and contemporary theories (Interaction Theory, Participatory Sense-Making), the role and use of the individual becomes increasingly convoluted. By calling attention to relevant points of agreement, problematic concessions and obvious inconsistencies, this paper aims to shift the conversation towards a more homogeneous use of the individual throughout social cognition. Inconsistent use has led to inconsistent research. With a better defined individual, contemporary theories like Participatory Sense-Making can effectively move beyond the shortcomings of the ongoing discussion.


Robin Zebrowski

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