27 - 28 June 2018

Normativity in Situated
and Embodied Cognition

International Workshop in Cognitive Sciences

This annual workshop aims to bring together participants from different scientific disciplines and foster an interdisciplinary discussion about embodied and situated approaches to cognition in the broad sense of the term, including action and perception. This year, we will discuss the issue of normativity lying at the core of any situated and embodied definition of cognition.

It has long been recognized in cognitive science that agents - artificial ones as well as living organisms - cannot be understood outside of their embodied and situated nature, and that they should be studied as some philosophers have referred to as ‘being in the world’. Despite differing views, many contemporary approaches to cognition and perception (such as ecological psychology, sensorimotor theory, enactivism and extended mind) agree on this matter. Yet with this joint agreement come other subjects to dispute, with among others the issue of normativity, i.e. the origin, diversity and distribution of the norms regulating the interactions between agents and their environments.

Through approaching normativity, we wish to go further than the idea of an agent being always related to its environment and vice versa; we aim to generate in-depth discussions on how to measure, observe and model concretely the co-constitutive spatio-temporalities of these norms, from attentional saliences to biosocial forces that continuously inform and shape both agents and their surroundings. To this end we hence seek to raise fundamental questions methodologically and theoretically.

For instance, in what ways do agents constitute their own world? To what extent is it constituted by others? How does it show through within the study of cognition in laboratory and in ‘the wild’? What are the cognitive, perceptual and behavioural conditions that guarantee the relative unity of ‘a world’? Should we think of the environment primarily as a set of features, a system of processes or a semi-closed network of activities? In which circumstances should we think of autonomy as the ability to adapt to environmental changes or as the ability to produce them? Is meaning derived solely from the satisfaction of an agent’s internal constraints? What makes a norm overarches an agent’s behaviour or a whole situation? In which conditions can normative pluralism lead to cognitive dissonance? Is normative pluralism compatible with a monist definition of norms or should multiple kinds of norms be analytically distinguished (biological, psychological, social or cultural, etc.)?

These are some of the topics we will address and discuss during TRACE. This workshop has always been an interdisciplinary event and this fifth edition intends to be in line with this position. We thus welcome contributions from philosophy, psychology, neuropsychology, AI and robotics, as well as anthropology, linguistics, ethology, archaeology, and more broadly from any discipline as long as there is a pronounced interest for the rigorous study of cognition, action and perception, whether through experiment, design or observation. We especially encourage young researchers (Post-doctoral, PhD and Master students) to submit a proposal (see modalities below).


The entrance to the workshop is free.


The event will be hosted in Brussels, Belgium, at the Université Libre de Bruxelles:

44 avenue Jeanne, 1050 Brussels
ULB - Institut de Sociologie
2th floor - Salle du Conseil

As part of the workshop, a walking dinner will be hosted at Aa café (36, Rue Van Aa) on June 27. This dinner has become a trademark of the workshop TRACE, where participants can carry on discussions or relax in a casual atmosphere.


Belgium’s capital is a relatively affordable city. If you have trouble finding a place, please do not hesitate to contact us for assistance.

We are looking forward to meeting you in Brussels!