The Autonomy of Psychology and Beyond

In The Multiple Realization Book we articulate an account of multiple realization that is based on the idea that the “job description” for multiple realization is to be incompatible with brain-based theories of the mind and therefore to strongly favor functionalist and other realization-based theories. Multiple realization is supposed to …

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 Hylomorphic Mind (Part 2)

Typically hylomorphists discuss their theory historically in terms of what Aristotle, Aquinas, or some other philosopher of the past has claimed. That is not my approach! The hylomorphic theory I defend dovetails with current work in metaphysics, philosophy of mind, and scientific disciplines such as biology and neuroscience. I argue …

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 …

Has physics made philosophy obsolete?

Once again, of course not! (Otherwise we wouldn’t be asking this question, would we?) Still, watch Angie Hobbs and Mary Midgley try to explain to Laurence Krauss why not, in this forum hosted by the Institute for Art and Ideas:

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[Image credit: “Acceleration components” by Brews ohare – Own work. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Acceleration_components.JPG#mediaviewer/File:Acceleration_components.JPG]
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CFP: Neurons, Mechanisms, and the Mind: The History and Philosophy of Cognitive Neuroscience

Call for Papers: The 30th Annual Boulder Conference on the History and Philosophy of Science Neurons, Mechanisms, and the Mind: The History and Philosophy of Cognitive Neuroscience October 10–12, 2014, at the University of Colorado at Boulder Our developing understanding of the mind depends extensively on neural data collected by fMRI, EEG, …

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 …

Functional Analyses as Mechanism Sketches

Carl Craver and I have written a paper arguing that functional analyses are just elliptical mechanistic explanations, contrary to the received view that functional analysis is distinct and autonomous from mechanistic explanation.  Corollary:  contrary to the received view, psychological explanation is not distinct and autonomous from neuroscientific explanation–rather, psychological explanation …