4. Conceptual Emergence and Neural Networks

Conceptual emergence occurs when, in order to understand or effectively represent some phenomenon, a different representational apparatus must be introduced at the current working level. Such changes in representation are common in the sciences but it has usually been considered in connection with changes in synchronic representations. Here, I’ll consider …

2. The Origin of the Universe Argument

Yesterday we saw, via an example from social psychology, that diachronic approaches to emergence can avoid some of the major problems of synchronic approaches. That motivating example is not wholly convincing as an example of transformational emergence. Here is what I believe is a more robustly ontological example. The Standard …

Should We Redefine Statistical Significance? A Brains Blog Roundtable

Consider the following:   Obviously this is bad science and even worse scientific reporting, but what can be done to combat it? More generally, what should be the scholarly response to the growing sense, among scientific researchers and the lay public alike, that scientific publications are not trustworthy — that …

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 – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Acceleration_components.JPG#mediaviewer/File:Acceleration_components.JPG]

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 …

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