University of Amsterdam
Department of Philosophy
PhD, 2008
Amsterdam, North Holland, Netherlands
  •  1734
    According to the traditional Western concept of freedom, the ability to exercise free will depends on the availability of options and the possibility to consciously decide which one to choose. Since neuroscientific research increasingly shows the limits of what we in fact consciously control, it seems that our belief in free will and hence in personal autonomy is in trouble. A closer look at the phenomenology of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) gives us reason to doubt the traditional concep…Read more
  •  975
    Social affordances in context: What is it that we are bodily responsive to
    with Sanneke de Haan and Damiaan Denys
    Behavioral and Brain Sciences 36 (4): 436-436. 2013.
    We propose to understand social affordances in the broader context of responsiveness to a field of relevant affordances in general. This perspective clarifies our everyday ability to unreflectively switch between social and other affordances. Moreover, based on our experience with Deep Brain Stimulation for treating obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) patients, we suggest that psychiatric disorders may affect skilled intentionality, including responsiveness to social affordances
  •  889
    There are important structural similarities in the way that animals and humans engage in unreflective activities, including unreflective social interactions in the case of higher animals. Firstly, it is a form of unreflective embodied intelligence that is ‘motivated’ by the situation. Secondly, both humans and non-human animals are responsive to ‘affordances’ (Gibson 1979); to possibilities for action offered by an environment. Thirdly, both humans and animals are selectively responsive to one a…Read more
  •  633
    On the nature of obsessions and compulsions
    with Sanneke de Haan and Damiaan Denys
    In David S. Baldwin & Brian E. Leonard (eds.), Modern trends in pharmacopsychiatry - Anxiety Disorders, Karger. pp. 1-15. 2013.
    In this chapter we give an overview of current and historical conceptions of the nature of obsessions and compulsions. We discuss some open questions pertaining to the primacy of the affective, volitional or affective nature of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Furthermore, we add some phenomenological suggestions of our own. In particular, we point to the patients’ need for absolute certainty and the lack of trust underlying this need. Building on insights from Wittgenstein, we argue that th…Read more
  •  584
    The paradox of spontaneity and design: Designing spontaneous interactions
    with Ronald Rietveld
    Oase 2011 (85): 33-41. 2011.
    This paper illustrates how affordance-based design can contribute to solutions for the grand challenges that society faces. The design methodology of ‘strategic interventions’ is explained.
  •  309
    In everyday life we often act adequately, yet without deliberation. For instance, we immediately obtain and maintain an appropriate distance from others in an elevator. The notion of normativity implied here is a very basic one, namely distinguishing adequate from inadequate, correct from incorrect, or better from worse in the context of a particular situation. In the first part of this paper I investigate such ‘situated normativity’ by focusing on unreflective expert action. More particularly, I …Read more
  •  305
    McDowell and Dreyfus on Unreflective Action
    Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 53 (2): 183-207. 2010.
    Within philosophy there is not yet an integrative account of unreflective skillful action. As a starting point, contributions would be required from philosophers from both the analytic and continental traditions. Starting from the McDowell-Dreyfus debate, shared Aristotelian-Wittgensteinian common ground is identified. McDowell and Dreyfus agree about the importance of embodied skills, situation-specific discernment and responsiveness to relevant affordances. This sheds light on the embodied and…Read more
  •  218
    Stimulating good practice - What an embodied cognition approach could mean for Deep Brain Stimulation practice
    with Sanneke de Haan and Damiaan Denys
    American Journal of Bioethics Neuroscience 5 (4). 2014.
    We whole-heartedly agree with Mecacci and Haselager(2014) on the need to investigate the psychosocial effects of deep brain stimulation (DBS), and particularly to find out how to prevent adverse psychosocial effects. We also agree with the authors on the value of an embodied, embedded, enactive approach (EEC) to the self and the mind–brain problem. However, we do not think this value primarily lies in dissolving a so-called “maladaptation” of patients to their DBS device. In this comment, we cha…Read more
  •  213
    Inviting complementary perspectives on situated normativity in everyday life
    with Pim Klaassen and Julien Topal
    Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 9 (1): 53-73. 2010.
    In everyday life, situations in which we act adequately yet entirely without deliberation are ubiquitous. We use the term “situated normativity” for the normative aspect of embodied cognition in skillful action. Wittgenstein’s notion of “directed discontent” refers to a context-sensitive reaction of appreciation in skillful action. Extending this notion from the domain of expertise to that of adequate everyday action, we examine phenomenologically the question of what happens when skilled indivi…Read more
  •  153
    Does DBS change a patient’s personality? This is one of the central questions in the debate on the ethics of treatment with Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS). At the moment, however, this important debate is hampered by the fact that there is relatively little data available concerning what patients actually experience following DBS treatment. There are a few qualitative studies with patients with Parkinson’s disease and Primary Dystonia and some case reports, but there has been no qualitative study …Read more
  •  132
    For Merleau-Ponty,consciousness in skillful coping is a matter of prereflective ‘I can’ and not explicit ‘I think that.’ The body unifies many domain-specific capacities. There exists a direct link between the perceived possibilities for action in the situation (‘affordances’) and the organism’s capacities. From Merleau-Ponty’s descriptions it is clear that in a flow of skillful actions, the leading ‘I can’ may change from moment to moment without explicit deliberation. How these transitions occ…Read more
  •  70
    Vacant NL, Where Architecture Meets Ideas: Curatorial Statement 12th Venice Architecture Biennale
    with Ronald Rietveld
    In Jurgen Bey, Joost Grootens, Erik Rietveld, Ronald Rietveld, Saskia Van Stein & Barbara Visser (eds.), Vacant NL, Where Architecture Meets Ideas, Nai. 2010.
    For the Venice Architecture Biennale 2010, curator Rietveld Landscape has been invited by the Netherlands Architecture Institute (NAI) to make a statement about the potential of landscape architecture to contribute to resolving the complex challenges that our society faces today. These challenges call for innovation; for a culture centred on design skills and cooperation between scientists and creative pioneers. The installation ‘Vacant NL, where architecture meets ideas’ calls upon the Dutch g…Read more
  •  54
    In this paper, we address the question of how an agent can guide its behavior with respect to aspects of the sociomaterial environment that are not sensorily present. A simple example is how an animal can relate to a food source while only sensing a pheromone, or how an agent can relate to beer, while only the refrigerator is directly sensorily present. Certain cases in which something is absent have been characterized by others as requiring ‘higher’ cognition. An example of this is how during t…Read more
  •  36
    In this paper, we set out to develop a theoretical and conceptual framework for the new field of Radical Embodied Cognitive Neuroscience. This framework should be able to integrate insights from several relevant disciplines: theory on embodied cognition, ecological psychology, phenomenology, dynamical systems theory, and neurodynamics. We suggest that the main task of Radical Embodied Cognitive Neuroscience is to investigate the phenomenon of skilled intentionality from the perspective of the se…Read more
  •  32
    Impulsive action: emotional impulses and their control
    with Nico H. Frijda and K. Richard Ridderinkhof
    Frontiers in Psychology 5. 2014.
  •  25
    A Call for Strategic Interventions
    with Ronald Rietveld
    In Ole Bouman, Anneke Abhelakh, Mieke Dings & Martine Zoeteman (eds.), Architecture of Consequence: Dutch Designs on the Future, Nai Publishers. 2009.
    Given the contemporary complexity of cities, landscape and society, urgent social tasks call for an integral, multidisciplinary approach. Rietveld Landscape’s strategic interventions focus and use the forces of existing developments and processes. This design method creates new opportunities for landscape, architecture, the public domain, ecology, recreation and economic activity.
  •  23
    Optimal grip on affordances in architectural design practices: an ethnography
    with Anne Ardina Brouwers
    Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 16 (3): 545-564. 2017.
    In this article we move beyond the problematic distinction between ‘higher’ and ‘lower’ cognition by accounting for so-called ‘higher’ cognitive capacities in terms of skillful activities in practices, and in terms of the affordances exploited in those practices. Through ethnographic research we aim to further develop the new notion of skilled intentionality by turning to the phenomenon of the tendency towards an optimal grip on a situation in real-life situations in the field of architecture. T…Read more
  •  20
    Hardcore Heritage: Imagination for Preservation
    with Ronald Rietveld
    Frontiers in Psychology 8. 2017.
  •  13
    Veissière and colleagues make a valiant attempt at reconciling an internalist account of implicit cultural learning with an externalist account that understands social behaviour in terms of its environment-involving dynamics. However, unfortunately the author's attempt to forge a middle way between internalism and externalism fails. We argue their failure stems from the overly individualistic understanding of the perception of cultural affordances they propose.
  •  12
    Scaling-up skilled intentionality to linguistic thought
    Synthese 198 (Suppl 1): 175-194. 2020.
    Cognition has traditionally been understood in terms of internal mental representations, and computational operations carried out on internal mental representations. Radical approaches propose to reconceive cognition in terms of agent-environment dynamics. An outstanding challenge for such a philosophical project is how to scale-up from perception and action to cases of what is typically called ‘higher-order’ cognition such as linguistic thought, the case we focus on in this paper. Perception an…Read more
  •  12
    Trusted strangers: social affordances for social cohesion
    with Ronald Rietveld and Janno Martens
    Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 18 (1): 299-316. 2019.
    How could the paradigm shift towards enactive embodied cognitive science have implications for society and politics? Translating insights form enactive embodied cognitive science into ways of dealing with real-life issues is an important challenge. This paper focuses of the urgent societal issue of social cohesion, which is crucial in our increasingly segregated and polarized Western societies. We use Rietveld’s philosophical Skilled Intentionality Framework and work by the multidisciplinary stu…Read more
  •  10
    Reflective Situated Normativity
    Philosophical Studies 1-19. forthcoming.
    Situated normativity is the ability of skilled individuals to distinguish better from worse, adequate from inadequate, appropriate from inappropriate, or correct from incorrect in the context of a particular situation. Situated normativity consists in a situated appreciation expressed in normative behaviour, and can be experienced as a bodily affective tension that motivates a skilled individual to act on particular possibilities for action offered by a concrete situation. The concept of situate…Read more
  •  10
    Could Closed-Loop DBS Enhance a Person's Feeling of Being Free?
    with Julian Kiverstein and Damiaan Denys
    American Journal of Bioethics Neuroscience 8 (2): 86-87. 2017.
  •  9
    Stimulating Good Practice: What an EEC Approach Could Actually Mean for DBS Practice
    with Sanneke de Haan and Damiaan Denys
    American Journal of Bioethics Neuroscience 5 (4): 46-48. 2014.
  •  5
  •  2
    ‘Deep brain stimulation is no ON/OFF-switch’: an ethnography of clinical expertise in psychiatric practice
    with Maarten van Westen, Annemarie van Hout, and Damiaan Denys
    Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 1-20. forthcoming.
    Despite technological innovations, clinical expertise remains the cornerstone of psychiatry. A clinical expert does not only have general textbook knowledge, but is sensitive to what is demanded for the individual patient in a particular situation. A method that can do justice to the subjective and situation-specific nature of clinical expertise is ethnography. Effective deep brain stimulation for obsessive-compulsive disorder involves an interpretive, evaluative process of optimizing stimulatio…Read more
  •  1
    Situated anticipation
    Synthese 198 (1): 349-371. 2018.
    In cognitive science, long-term anticipation, such as when planning to do something next year, is typically seen as a form of ‘higher’ cognition, requiring a different account than the more basic activities that can be understood in terms of responsiveness to ‘affordances,’ i.e. to possibilities for action. Starting from architects that anticipate the possibility to make an architectural installation over the course of many months, in this paper we develop a process-based account of affordances …Read more
  • Alledaags handelen zonder na te denken
    Algemeen Nederlands Tijdschrift voor Wijsbegeerte 102 (4). 2010.