I’ve been thinking about Petri nets a lot. Around 2010, I got excited about using them to describe chemical reactions, population dynamics and more, using ideas taken from quantum physics. Then I started working with my student Blake Pollard on ‘open’ Petri nets, which you can glue together to form larger Petri nets. …
My source for the doctrine I call Humean Humility is section 1.4.4 of Hume’s Treatise of Human Nature, the section in which he gives his critique of “the modern philosophy.” Hume contends that the world according to the modern philosophy—a world with primary qualities but no secondary qualities—is a world of which we can form no conception. There are echoes of Hume’s premises (if not his conclusion) in two contemporary foci of philosophical attention: Russellian Monism, which agrees with Hume that there would be something defective in a world without anything like the traditional secondaries, but unlike Hume, goes on to attribute such qualities to the world, and Ramseyan Humility, which agrees with Hume that there must be more to any conceivable world than just structure with no underlying intrinsic or nonrelational properties, then goes on to argue that we could never know what these intrinsic properties are. In what follows, I examine all three views, as well as the merits of several possible lines of reply to them, including causal structuralism and dispositional monism.
This paper explores three ways in which physics may involve counterpossible reasoning. The first way arises when evaluating false theories: to say what the world would be like if the theory were true, we need to evaluate counterfactuals with physically impossible antecedents. The second way relates to the role of counterfactuals in characterizing causal structure: to say what causes what in physics, we need to make reference to physically impossible scenarios. The third way is novel: to model metaphysical dependence in physics, we need to consider counterfactual consequences of metaphysical impossibilities. Physics accordingly bears substantial and surprising counterpossible commitments.
Mental representations are a means to explain behavior. This, at least, is the idea on which cognitive (behavioral) science is built: that there are certain kinds of behavior, namely minimally flexible behavior, which cannot be explained by appealing to stimulus-response patterns. Flexible behavior is understood as behavior that can differ even in response to one and the same type of stimulus or that can be elicited without the relevant stimulus being present. Since this implies that there is no simple one-to-one relation between stimulus and behavior, flexible behavior is not explainable by simple stimulus-response patterns. Thus, some inner processes of the behaving system (of a minimal complexity) are assumed to have an influence on what kind of behavior is selected given a specific stimulus. These inner processes (or states) are then taken to stand for something else (features, properties, objects, etc.) and are hence called “mental representations”. They are presupposed for two main reasons, 1. to account for flexible reactions to one and the same stimulus and 2. to account for behavior triggered when the relevant entities are not present. The latter case is highlighted by J.
Neuroscientists have located brain activity that prepares or encodes action plans before agents are aware of intending to act. On the basis of these findings and broader agency research, activity in these regions has been proposed as the neural realizers of practical intention. My aim in this paper is to evaluate the case for taking these neural states to be neural representations of intention. I draw on work in philosophy of action on the role and nature of practical intentions to construct a framework of the functional profile of intentions fit for empirical investigation. With this framework, I turn to the broader empirical neuroscience literature on agency to assess these proposed neural representations of intention. I argue that while these neural states in some respects satisfy the functions of intention in planning agency prospective of action, their fit with the role of intention in action execution is not well supported. I close by offering a sketch of which experimental task features could aid in the search for the neural realizer of intention in action.
Monism about well-being is the view that there is exactly one basic (prudential) good and exactly one basic (prudential) bad. Pluralism about well-being is the view that there is either more than one basic good or more than one basic bad. We can illustrate this distinction by contrasting hedonism and desire satisfactionism, on the one hand, with objective list theories, on the other. Hedonism and desire satisfactionism disagree about what the basic goods and bads are, but they agree about their number: they both say that there is a single basic good and a single basic bad. By contrast, objective list theories—or at least the paradigmatic ones—posit either a plurality of basic goods or a plurality of basic bads. Parfit, for example, considers an objective list theory on which “moral goodness, rational activity, … and the awareness of true beauty” are all basic goods (Parfit 1984: 499).
It is an honor and a pleasure to contribute to this festschrift for George Ellis. I first became interested in the topic of downward causation as a result of conversations that I had many years ago with Roger Sperry when I was a postdoc at Caltech. I’ve always thought that there was something right in the basic idea but it has only been recently, partly as a consequence of reading work by Ellis (and others such as Denis Noble) as well as some philosophical criticisms of downward causation that struck me as misguided that I have thought that I might have something to say on this subject. The ideas that follow reflect the influence of Ellis and Noble as well as some recent developments in machine learning and computer science concerning forming macro-variables from more fine-grained realizing micro-variables (e.g.
For Jerry Fodor, Hume’s Treatise of Human Nature is “the foundational document of cognitive science” whose significance transcends mere historical interest: it is a source of theoretical inspiration in cognitive psychology. Here I am going to argue that those reading Hume along Fodor’s lines rely on a problematic, albeit inspiring, construction of Hume’s science of mind. My strategy in this paper is to contrast Fodor’s understanding of the Humean mind (consonant with the widely received view of Hume in both cognitive science and much of Hume scholarship) with an alternative understanding that I propose. I thereby intend to show that the received view of Hume’s science of mind can be fruitfully revised while critically engaging with Fodor’s contemporary appropriation. Consequently, I use this occasion to put forward a rather unorthodox interpretation of Hume’s theory in dialogue with Fodor as my guide.
I'm delighted that Eden Lin agreed to contribute the following post to my "philosopher spotlight" series. Enjoy! * * *Most of my work
has focused on the normative ethics of well-being
or welfare, which investigates (i)
what counts as a life that is going well or badly for the individual whose life
it is, (ii) what determines how well or badly someone’s life is going, and
(iii) what things are good or bad for individuals in the most basic way.Theories of
well-being typically purport to identify the basic goods and bads—the kinds of things that it is ultimately in
or against an individual’s interests to possess and whose presence in a life
makes it go well or badly. …
Is suffering really bad? The late Derek Parfit argued that we all have reasons to want to avoid future agony and that suffering is in itself bad both for the one who suffers and impersonally. Nietzsche denied that suffering was intrinsically bad and that its value could even be impersonal. This paper has two aims. It argues against what I call ‘Realism about the Value of Suffering’ by drawing from a broadly Nietzschean debunking of our evaluative attitudes, showing that a recently influential response to the debunking challenge (the appeal to phenomenal introspection) fails. It also argues that a Nietzschean approach is well suited to support the challenge and is bolstered by the empirical literature. As strangers to ourselves, we cannot know whether suffering is really intrinsically bad for us.
In my talk I shall try to present some of the key features of an intricate collection of ideas in biology, physics and chemistry that seem to me to have revolutionary implications for philosophy of science (including biology), philosophy of mind and philosophy of mathematics, including implications concerning the nature of consciousness, especially spatial consciousness, in many intelligent species. Number competences will not be discussed, except to note that many researchers in psychology and neuroscience who try to investigate innateness of number competences don’t understand that a full grasp of natural numbers depends on understanding the necessary transitivity of one-to-one correspondence, which does not develop until age 5 or 6 as Piaget discovered many years ago (Piaget, 1952). Spatial consciousness formed the basis of ancient human mathematical consciousness in topology and geometry centuries before Euclid, and even longer before the development of logic-based formal foundations for (some) mathematics.
The Buddhist philosopher Vasubandhu (4th to 5th
century C.E.) was a great light at the peak of India’s
empire.[ 1 ]
His works display his mastery of Buddhist as well as non-Buddhist
thought of the day, and he made his mark, successively, upon three
Buddhist scholastic traditions that are traditionally considered
distinct: Vaibhāṣika, Sautrāntika, and
Yogācāra.[ 2 ]
His master work of Abhidharma thought, the Commentary on the
Treasury of the Abhidharma
(Abhidharmakośabhāṣya), is to this day the
primary resource for knowledge of “Śrāvaka” or
non-Mahāyāna philosophy among Tibetan and East Asian
schools.[ 3 ]
His concise works on Yogācāra philosophy set a new standard
for that school, which became mainstream Buddhist metaphysics in India
for half a millennium
thereafter.[ 4 ]
Venerated as he is across the Buddhist world, he has always been a
subject of disputation.
Tese apresentada ao Programa de Pós-graduação em Filosofia do Departamento de Filosofia da Faculdade de Filosofia, Letras e Ciências Humanas da Universidade de São Paulo.
It is widely thought that Augustine thinks perception is, in some distinctive sense, an active process and that he takes conscious awareness to be constitutive of perception. I argue that conscious awareness is not straightforwardly constitutive of perception and that Augustine is best understood as an indirect realist. I then clarify Augustine’s views concerning the nature and role of diachronically unified conscious awareness and mental representation in perception, the nature of the soul’s intentio, and the precise sense(s) in which perception is an active process.
Writing in 1948, Turing felt compelled to confront a “religious belief” that “any attempt” to construct intelligent machines was seen “a sort of Promethean irreverence.” And yet he has been associated by his own biographer Andrew Hodges with the image of “a Frankenstein — the proud irresponsibility of pure science, concentrated in a single person.” Reader of a 1865 version of Samuel Butler’s Darwin among the machines, Turing challenged the conventional wisdom of what machines really were or could be and prophesized a future pervaded by intelligent machines which may be seen as a dystopia or as a utopia. The question is thus posed: what future did Turing actually envision and propose to machines? I will formulate and study the problem of identifying Turing’s specific Promethean ambition about intelligent machines. I shall suggest that Turing’s primary aim was the development of mechanistic explanations of the human mindbrain. But his secondary aim, implied in irony and wit, was the delivery of a social criticism about gender, race, nation and species chauvinisms. Turing’s association with Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein will be discouraged. Rather, his third aim was to send a precautionary message about the possibility of machines outstripping us in intellectual power in the future.
Desires are contentful mental states. But what determines the content of a desire? Two different classic answers were proposed by Russell and by Wittgenstein, starting in the s. Russell proposed a behaviourist account according to which the content of the desire is fixed by the type of state that puts an end to the relevant kind of behaviour which was triggered by some initial discomfort. The desire’s content consists in its “satisfaction conditions”. Wittgenstein criticized such an account for neglecting the crucial point that the relation between a desire and its content is a conceptual, internal one, not an external contingent one. Desires specify their own contents, their “fulfillment conditions”. Even though there is a lot to say in favour of Wittgenstein’s criticism, this paper argues that Russell pointed at an important aspect of desires which plays a crucial role for accounts of self-knowledge of one’s own desires. It turns out fulfillment conditions and satisfaction conditions are tied together in rational self-knowledge of one’s own desires. In this sense, the views of Russell and Wittgenstein can be combined in a fruitful way.
Dancy in Ethics 124(4):787–812, 2014; Zagzebski in Philos Phenomenol Res 66(1):104–124, 2003) argue that we can make progress in the longstanding debate about the nature of moral motivation by appealing to the affective dimension of affective episodes such as emotions, which allegedly play either a causal or constitutive role in moral judgements. Specifically, they claim that appealing to affect vindicates a version of Motivational Internalism—roughly, the view that there is a necessary connection between moral judgment and motivation—that is both more empirically respectable and less theoretically controversial than non-affective versions. We here argue that the affective appeal fails: versions of Internalism which appeal to affect are neither more empirically supported, nor clearly less controversial, than versions of Internalism which make no such appeal. Although affect doubtless has an important role to play in explaining moral motivation, we are sceptical that establishing any such role advances the debate.
According to some philosophers, there is an ontological distinction between dispositionality and categoricality/qualitativity. Property dualists (Ellis 2001; Molnar 2003; McKitrick 2018) think that the distinction, ontologically conceived, grounds irreducible and ineliminable differences between two kinds of natural property which both exist in the world. In contrast to dualists, property monists hold that only one kind of property actually exists. In particular, categorical monists (Mackie 1977; Armstrong 1997) defend the view that no property (at least no fundamental property) is dispositional, whereas dispositional monists (Mumford 2004; Bird 2007) claim that all properties (at least, all fundamental properties) are dispositional.
In this paper I present an account of musical arousal that takes into account key demands of formalist philosophers such as Peter Kivy and Nick Zangwill. Formalists prioritise our understanding and appreciation of the music itself. As a result, they demand that any feelings we have in response to music must be directed at the music alone, without being distracted by non-musical associations. To accommodate these requirements I appeal to a mechanism of contagion which I synthesize with the expectation-based arousal mechanism proposed by Leonard Meyer. This account connects musical expressivity and arousal in a way that formalists have rejected, but I argue that it provides the best explanation of our observations of listener responses while also focusing on the music itself.
This paper addresses a problem about aesthetic normativity raised by Kant. Can aesthetic experiences be appropriate or inappropriate to their objects? And, if so, how is that possible given that, according to Kant, aesthetic experience is not objective? Kant thought the answer to the first question was yes. But his official answer to the second question, in terms of the free play of the faculties, is obscure. The paper offers a clearer answer, inspired by Kant, which invokes Wittgenstein’s notion of “knowing how to go on.” Aesthetic normativity is problematic only on the assumption that claims to the normativity of one’s responses to things must be based on the recognition of objective properties of those things. However, Wittgenstein’s discussion shows that we need not accept that assumption. There can be legitimate claims to the normativity of one’s responses which do not rely on those responses’ reflecting appreciation of objective facts.
There is a long-standing conflict in philosophy between two pictures of perceptual experience. On one picture, traditionally associated with Kant, perceptual experience, at least in adult humans, involves the operation of conceptual as well as sensory capacities. The experience you have when you see a yellow daffodil essentially involves your being aware of it as yellow, and as a daffodil. A subject lacking the concepts of yellow and daffodil would see the same object you do, in that it would affect their sense-organs as it does yours, but would have a different perceptual experience. On the other picture, more closely aligned with empiricism, perceptual experience is the product of our sensory capacities only.
Consciousness vehicle externalism (CVE) is the claim that the material machinery of a subject’s phenomenology partially leaks outside a subject’s brain, encompassing bodily and environmental structures. The DEUTS argument is the most prominent argument for CVE in the sensorimotor enactivists’ arsenal. In a recent series of publications, Kirchhoff and Kiverstein have deployed such an argument to claim that a prominent view of neural processing, namely predictive processing, is fully compatible with CVE. Indeed, in Kirchhoff and Kiverstein’s view, a proper understanding of predictive processing mandates CVE. In this essay, we critically examine Kirchhoff and Kiverstein’s argument. Our aim is to argue in favor of the following three points. First, that Kirchhoff and Kiverstein’s emphasis on cultural practices lends no support to CVE: at best, it vindicates some form of content externalism about phenomenal content. Secondly, the criteria Kirchhoff and Kiverstein propose to identify a subject’s phenomenal machinery greatly overgeneralize, leaving them open to a “consciousness bloat” objection, which is an analog of the cognitive bloat objection against the extended mind. Lastly, we will argue that the “consciousness bloat” problem is inbuilt in the very argumentative structure of the DEUTS argument. We will thus conclude that, contrary to the philosophical mainstream, DEUTS is not the best argument for CVE in the sensorimotor enactivists’ argumentative arsenal.
According to the resemblance account of ’what it’s like’ and similar constructions, a sentence such as ‘there is something it’s like to have a toothache’ means ‘there is something having a toothache resembles’. This account has proved controversial in the literature; some writers endorse it, many reject it. We show that this conflict is illusory. Drawing on the semantics of intensional transitive verbs, we show that there are two versions of the resemblance account, depending on whether ‘resembles’ is construed notionally or relationally. While well-known criticisms of the resemblance account undermine its relational version, they do not touch its notional version. On the contrary, the notional version is equivalent to various accounts usually interpreted as rivals to resemblance. We end by noting that this resolution of the controversy (a) explains why ‘like’, which is a comparative, appears in a construction that concerns the properties of events, and (b) removes any pressure to suppose that ‘like’ is ambiguous between a comparative and a non-comparative sense.
According to (what I will call) an inner awareness theory of consciousness, you are in a (phenomenally) conscious state only if you are aware, in some sense, of your being in the state. This theory is widely held, but what arguments are there for holding it? In this paper, I gather together in a systematic way the main arguments for holding the theory and suggest that none of them is persuasive. I end the paper by asking what our attitude to the theory should be if there is no existing argument for it. §1. You are watching a man on a unicycle. Will he fall? Will he balance the flaming torch on his nose? Will the torch burn his moustache? At least for the moment, your attention is completely occupied with him and what he is doing. By contrast, your attention is not occupied with you and what you are doing. At least for the moment, your watching and seeing the man, your own body, and even your own existence, are things to which you are—at least for the moment—completely and happily oblivious. It is reasonable to assume that in this sort of full absorption case (as we might call it) you are having a conscious experience of some kind. For one thing, not only are you watching the man, there is something it is like for you to watch the man, and that claim is usually taken as sufficient for saying that you are having a conscious experience. Moreover, you are aware of the man and what he is doing—and, again, awareness of this sort is usually assumed to involve consciousness.
Emotions seem to be epistemically assessable: fear of an onrushing truck is epistemically justified, mutatis mutandis, whereas fear of a peanut rolling on the floor is not. But there is a difficulty in understanding why emotions are epistemically assessable. It is clear why beliefs, for instance, are epistemically assessable: epistemic assessability is, arguably, assessability with respect to likely truth, and belief is by its nature concerned with truth; truth is, we might say, belief’s “formal object.” Emotions, however, have formal objects different from truth: the formal object of fear is danger, the formal object of indignation is injustice, the formal object of grief is loss, and so on. After considering how a number of different accounts of emotion might account for the epistemic assessability of emotion, we develop a novel account of the domain of the epistemically assessable, according to which any mental state which is constitutively evidence-responsive is epistemically assessable, regardless of whether its formal object is truth.
This article was submitted to Virtual Environments, a section of the journal Frontiers in Robotics and AI Received: 04 October 2018 Accepted: 11 April 2019 Published: 08 May 2019 Citation: van der Veer AH, Longo MR, Alsmith AJT, Wong HY and Mohler BJ (2019) Self and Body Part Localization in Virtual Reality: Comparing a Headset and a Large-Screen Immersive Display.
Cognitive Propositions, Truth Functions, and the Tractatus It has been 141 years since, first Frege, but then Russell and Wittgenstein, put the metaphysics and epistemology of propositions at the center of philosophy of language, logic, mathematics, and mind. Whereas Frege gave us the first great system for understanding language and thought, his metaphysics and epistemology of propositions was unrealistically other-worldly. The same was true of the early Russell who, by 1912, had become dissatisfied with his inability to explain the intentionality of the abstract structures he had heretofore called “propositions” – which were at best artificial models of what we really assert, believe, and know. It was then that he was struck with the idea that what unites the elements of assertion, belief, and hypothesis, and gives them representational content are the minds of agents, without which neither truth nor falsity can be understood. Although this led him to the dead end that was his multiple relation theory of judgement, Wittgenstein was more successful in putting a human face on representational thought. The tractarian picture theory of propositions we use sentences to express was grounded in the use of linguistic and other artifacts to represent items in the world as being one way or another. Despite remaining submerged for nearly a century, this seminal idea has now been put in cognitive form and developed by several leading philosophers.
The last five years have seen a series of remarkable achievements in deep-neural-network-based Artificial Intelligence (AI) research, and some modellers have argued that their performance compares favourably to human cognition. Critics, however, have argued that processing in deep neural networks is unlike human cognition for four reasons: they are i) data-hungry, ii) brittle, and iii) inscrutable black boxes that merely iv) reward-hack rather than learn real solutions to problems. This paper rebuts these criticisms by exposing comparative bias within them, in the process extracting some more general lessons that may also be useful for future debates.
In an illuminating essay ‘Die Einheit des Erkenntnisvermögens bei Kant’ (Conant 2017a), James Conant critically addresses what he argues is a widespread assumption in modern philosophy, namely, the assumption that our rational capacity to know is a capacity that is somehow ‘added’ or tacked on to the capacity that we humans share with other animals, that is, our receptive capacity for sensations, our sensibility. This is the so-called ‘additive’
Conant’s recent article, ‘Why Kant Is Not a Kantian’, offers a sophisticated and provocative account of the relationship between sensibility and understanding. It is also an account that I think is mistaken. One consequence is that Conant is unable to do justice to both the differences and the deep continuities that exist between us and non-rational animals. Kant’s own views in this regard, I argue, were both more flexible and more attractive.