USA versus Trump

I’ve rarely posted about politics on this blog. In an old, rare exception, I defended the modern Italian right from the accusation of being fascist or inclined towards fascism while simultaneously accusing Italian political institutions of lacking proper checks and balances (in part as a heritage from the fascist regime). I left …

CFP Special Issue of Minds and Machines on Computation and Representation in Cognitive Neuroscience

GUEST EDITOR Gualtiero Piccinini, University of Missouri – St. Louis INTRODUCTION Cognitive neuroscientists routinely explain cognition in terms of neural computations over neural representations. Yet some critics argue that cognitive neuroscience does not need the notions of neural computation and representations or, worse, that these notions are untenable. Whether or …

Dualism and the Afterlife

Sonya Bahar and I have recently contributed to a large volume collecting arguments against the afterlife, edited by Michael Martin and Keith Augustine. William Hasker just reviewed it for NDPR. IMHO the review is not up to the usual NDPR standards. Hasker dismisses the portion of the volume where our essay …

The Importance of Miscomputation

Anyone familiar with the philosophical literature on representation is familiar with the notion of misrepresentation. The standard view is that any robust notion of representation must make it possible to have misrepresentation. If something cannot misrepresent, it does not represent at all. At least not in the most interesting and …

There Are Many Kinds of Computing Systems

One of the ways that the philosophical literature on computation is traditionally impoverished is that it tends to focus on just one or two paradigmatic examples, such as Turing machines or traditional digital computers. Perhaps because of this, some philosophers have produced accounts of physical computation from which it follows …

Does Every Physical System Compute?

In my previous post, I introduced pancomputationalism–the idea that every physical system performs computations. There are three main versions of pancomputationalism. Unlimited pancomputationalism says that every physical system performs just about any computation you like. For example, a piece of the Berlin wall sitting outside a museum, like the one in …

Does Computation Require Representation?

Most of the philosophers who discuss computation are interested in computation because they are interested in the computational theory of cognition. Cognitive systems are typically assumed to represent things, and computation is supposed to help explain how they represent. So many philosophers conclude that computation is the manipulation of representations. …

Is Computation Abstract or Concrete?

John Schwenkler kindly asked me to blog about my new book, Physical Computation: A Mechanistic Account. I am grateful for the invitation. The original motivation for the research that led to the book was to make progress on the vexed question of whether cognition involves computation. That seems to require …

A Coincidence

I recently published three articles that may be of interest to some readers: “The Cognitive Neuroscience Revolution,” (with Worth “Trey” Boone), Synthese. Articulates how cognitive neuroscience explains cognition in terms of representational, computational, multi-level mechanisms. “Access Denied to Zombies,” Topoi. Argues that in doing metaphysics we should pay closer attention …

CFP: PC 2015

The 6th International Workshop on Physics and Computation (PC 2015) (A satellite workshop to Unconventional Computation & Natural Computation 2015) 31 August – 4 September 2015 University of Auckland, New Zealand Special session on Physics and Computation at the Conference on Unconventional Computation & Natural Computation 2015 The 6th International …

New Book: The Biological Mind

One of the most neglected perspectives in traditional philosophy of mind/cogsci is that the mind is a biological system, and that therefore philosophy of mind/cogsci is a branch of philosophy of biology. Fortunately, Justin Garson has just published The Biological Mind (Routledge), an introduction to the philosophy of mind that …