Understanding Compositional Explanations in the Sciences

Understanding the nature of “vertical” relations whether in science, nature, mathematics, logic, or anywhere else, is a hot topic in philosophy. What is unfortunate is that, as yet, too little attention is paid to focused issues about what frameworks work best for the “vertical” relations in particular areas. However, it …

Metaphysics of Science vs. Metaphysics for Science: Scientific and Philosophical Frameworks

Part I of the book clears space for later work and supplies a key theoretical platform. To get us started, I briefly sketch the outlines of the scientific views to highlight how they differ from philosophical accounts of reduction /emergence; and to broach a diagnosis of how the dislocation between …

The Unexplained Intellect: The Mind’s Dynamic Foundations

One theme of this week’s posts has been the claim that dynamic entities are among the most metaphysically basic of the things in the mental domain.  I’ve made only the vaguest gestures towards saying what I mean by this (in response to Gualtiero’s earlier comment). By dynamic entities, I mean …

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. …

Symposium on Bernard Molyneux, “The Logic of Mind-Body Identification”

It’s my pleasure to introduce this symposium on Bernard Molyneux’s paper “The Logic of Mind-Body Identification” (in the current issue of Ergo), with commentaries by Liz Irvine (Cardiff), István Aranyosi (Bilkent), and Jonathan Simon (NYU). Molyneux’s paper introduces a new strategy for explaining why proposed identities between the mental and …

SpaceTimeMind

You may (or may not) have noticed that Pete Mandik and Richard Brown (me) have started a podcast, called SpaceTimeMind, where we talk about tax law updates for 2014, uh, I mean, er, we talk about space and time and mind! The first episode is up now (and has been …

2013 Spindel Conference: The Lives of Human Animals

The problem of personal identity is one of the most bewitching puzzles in all of philosophy. Until very recently, most philosophers subscribed to the view first advocated by the 17th-century British philosopher, John Locke. Locke held that our fundamental nature is given by our status as self-conscious, rational agents (“persons”) …

A New Theory of Free Will

Just a quick note that I recently published an article in The Philosophical Forum , “A New Theory of Free Will“, that may be of interest to readers (a free PDF of the penultimate draft is available here).  Here’s the abstract:  This paper shows that several live philosophical and scientific hypotheses – including …

Examples of downward causation?

[Note: updated 04/08/07 with examples from Carl Craver’s paper.]I just culled together a bunch of putative examples of downward causation, some from advocates, some from detractors. Particularly interesting and promising is the article by Robert Bishop, Downward causation in fluid convection, and Bechtel/Craver’s article  Top-down causation without top-down causes, for …

Multiple Realization Poll

Philosophers, both at Brains and elsewhere in the philosophical blogosphere, seem to like participating in and reading polls, so how about another one here? Is the property of having dichromatic color vision multiply realized in humans? If so, why? If not, why not I say “yes”. There are three familiar …

The Ontology of Creature Consciousness

In a previous post, I asked whether creature consciousness might be ontologically more important, including as part of the ontological basis for phenomenal consciousness, than many philosophers seem to think.  I was motivated in part by “Consciousness without a Cerebrain Cortex: A Challenge for Neuroscience and Medicine,” a forthcoming BBS target article …

Spinning Free Wheels

There is a review of contemporary debates about free will in the NYT of two days ago.  The author gets a bit mixed up on freedom vs. unpredictability, but this is as far as an intelligent science writer has gotten so far by interviewing a bunch of scientists and philosophers. …

Extended Mind Poll Results

A few days ago, I asked whether the mind is in the head.  Counting only reasonably unambiguous answers (and counting one vote per commenter), as of right now Brains readers answered as follows:Yes: 11 votesNo: 6 votesUpdate: You may find some more comments here and here. 0

Stereo Sue

Oliver Sacks writes about Sue, who (through vision therapy) recovered stereoscopic vision (STEREO SUE., Sacks, Oliver, New Yorker, 0028792X, 6/19/2006, Vol. 82, Issue 18). She had lost it when she was very young, and then recovered it through intensive vision therapy. She was (is) completely thrilled by this. Sacks writes, …

Functionalism and Properties

John Heil has been arguing for a while (cf. his book From an Ontological Point of View, OUP, 2003) that an important source of problems in the metaphysics of mind (e.g., about mental causation) is the tacit though widespread endorsement of the following principle [I am simplifying Heil’s formulations a …