Keeping track with things

Richard Menary*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

3 Citations (Scopus)


The chapter begins with an evolutionary account of tracking systems, from simple detection systems to complex decoupled and highly flexible tracking systems. The important mediator is the role of the environment in providing the complexity, translucency, and hostility that produces the evolutionary pressures that result in more complex tracking systems. An evolutionary platform is provided for how modern humans could have come to innovate epistemic tracking tools (ETTs) for keeping track of salient features of the environment. Three examples of ETTs in action are given, ranging from highly iconic and contextual learning tools–such as the Mattang–to highly abstract and decoupled conventional symbol systems. Finally, it is argued that ETTs are compatible with a responsibilist-reliabilism since their correct deployment requires epistemic diligence and the reliable functioning of the tool itself. As such, a framework for understanding and exploring how we keep track with things has been given.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationExtended epistemology
EditorsJ. Adam Carter, Andy Clark, Jesper Kallestrup, S. Orestis Palermos, Duncan Pritchard
Place of PublicationLondon ; New York
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages26
ISBN (Electronic)9780192555762
ISBN (Print)9780198769811
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • Epistemic tracking
  • Epistemology
  • Evolution
  • Mattang
  • Tracking systems

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