In this paper, I evaluate the prospects and limitations of radical enactivism as recently developed by Hutto and Myin (henceforth, “H&M”) (2013, 2017). According to radical enactivism, cognition does not essentially involve content and admits explanations on a semantic level only as far as cognition is scaffolded with social and linguistic practices. I investigate their claims, focusing on H&M’s criticism of the predictive processing account of cognition (dubbed the bootstrap hell argument) and their own account of the emergence of content (the natural origins of content). I argue that H&M fail on two fronts: unsupervised learning can arrive at contentful representations and H&M’s account of the emergence of content assumes an equivalent bootstrapping. My case is illustrated with Skyrms’ evolutionary game-theoretic account of the emergence of content and recent deep learning research on neural language models. These arguments cast a shadow of doubt on whether radical enactivism is philosophically interesting or empirically plausible. Keywords: hard problem of content; radical enactivism; predictive processing; neural language models; deep learning; bootstrap hell; semantic information.
What is it to be mentally healthy? In the ongoing movement to promote mental health, to reduce stigma and to establish parity between mental and physical health, there is a clear enthusiasm about this concept and a recognition of its value in human life. However, it is often unclear what mental health means in all these efforts and whether there is a single concept underlying them. Sometimes the initiatives for the sake of mental health are aimed just at reducing mental illness, thus implicitly identifying mental health with the absence of diagnosable psychiatric disease. More ambitiously, there are high-profile proposals to adopt a positive definition, identifying mental health with psychic or even overall wellbeing. We argue against both: a definition of mental health as mere absence of mental illness is too thin, too undemanding, and too closely linked to psychiatric value judgments, while the definition in terms of wellbeing is too demanding and potentially oppressive. As a compromise we sketch out a middle position. On this view mental health is a primary good, that is the psychological preconditions of pursuing any conception of the good life, including wellbeing, without being identical to wellbeing.
Consider the following pairs of properties. (As is common in the
literature on this topic, this entry will use the words
‘property’ and ‘relation’ interchangeably. Properties in the usual sense are distinguished as
“monadic”, and relations in the usual sense as
“polyadic”.) Column 1
being a triangle
being a three-to-five sided figure none of whose sides is more
than one-and-a-half times as long as any other
intersecting at an angle of 90 degrees
intersecting at an angle of 87 degrees
being electrically charged
being negatively charged and not part of a fish
being composed entirely of carbon dioxide molecules
being a cappucino
being grue (Goodman
either green and observed before a certain time \(t\) or blue and not
observed before \(t\).
It is widely thought that there is an important argument to be made that starts with premises taken from the science of physics and ends with the conclusion of physicalism. Maybe the argument isn’t decisive, and maybe physics isn’t univocal on the topic. Still, surely there is some sort of physicsbased argument for physicalism to be made. My question in what follows is, just how should this argument go?
This week, I’m blogging about my new book, The Epistemic Role of Consciousness (Oxford University Press, September 2019). Over the past three days, I’ve
discussed the epistemic role of consciousness in perception, cognition, and
This week, I’m blogging about my new book, The Epistemic Role of Consciousness (Oxford University Press, September 2019). Today, I’ll discuss the epistemic
role of consciousness in introspection.What is introspection? …
This week, I’m blogging about my new book, The Epistemic Role of Consciousness (Oxford University Press, September 2019). Today, I’ll discuss the epistemic role of consciousness in cognition.Could there be a cognitive zombie – that is, an unconscious
creature with the capacity for cognition? …
It is widely recognized that the process used to make observations often has a significant effect on how hypotheses should be evaluated in light of those observations. Arthur Stanley Eddington (1939, Ch. II) provides a classic example. You’re at a lake and are interested in the size of the fish it contains. You know, from testimony, that at least some of the fish in the lake are big (i.e., at least 10 inches long), but beyond that you’re in the dark. You devise a plan of attack: get a net and use it to draw a sample of fish from the lake. You carry out your plan and observe: O : 100% of the fish in the net are big.
Certain metaphysical views are thought to have implications for the kinds of feelings that are appropriate to have. For instance, many philosophers maintain that we lack free will and that, as a result, reactive attitudes like resentment are inappropriate. Resentment would only be appropriate if people had genuine libertarian free will; since people lack such free will, we should not resent people even when they do us wrong (e.g., Pereboom 2001, Sommers 2007). Buddhist metaphysics also has implications for the kinds of reactive attitudes that are appropriate to have. Insofar as Buddhism denies the existence of a self, emotions that depend on a representation of self are based on a fundamental mistake.
This week, I’m blogging about my new book, The Epistemic Role of Consciousness (Oxford University Press, September 2019). Today, I’ll discuss the epistemic role of consciousness in perception.Human perception is normally conscious: there is something
it is like for us to perceive the world around us. …
Consciousness presents a series of characteristics that have been observed throughout the years: unity, continuity, richness and robustness are some of them. It manifests itself in regions of the brain capable of processing a huge quantity of integrated information with a level of neural activity close to criticality. We argue that the physics of consciousness cannot be exclusively based on classical physics. Consciousness unity cannot be explained classically as the classical properties are always Humean like a mosaic. One needs an entangled quantum system that can at least satisfy part of the functions of a quantum computer to allow to generate an inner aspect with the unity of consciousness and to couple with a classical system that gives it simultaneous access to preprocessed information at the neural level and to produce events that generate neural firings.
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Paul Bernays Lectures
Last week, I had the honor of giving the annual Paul Bernays Lectures at ETH Zürich. My opening line: “as I look at the list of previous Bernays Lecturers—many of them Nobel physics laureates, Fields Medalists, etc.—I think to myself, how badly did you have to screw up this year in order to end up with me?”
Paul Bernays was the primary assistant to David Hilbert, before Bernays (being Jewish by birth) was forced out of Göttingen by the Nazis in 1933. …
This week, I’m blogging about my new book, The Epistemic Role of Consciousness (Oxford University Press, September 2019). Thanks to John Schwenkler for hosting me. Today, I’ll start by situating the project of the book within a broader landscape in the philosophy of mind.What is the role of phenomenal consciousness in our mental
A venerable view holds that a border between perception and cognition is built into our cognitive architecture, and that this imposes limits on the way information can flow between them. While the deliverances of perception are freely available for use in reasoning and inference, there are strict constraints on information flow in the opposite direction. Despite its plausibility, this approach to the perception-cognition border has faced criticism in recent years. This paper develops an updated version of the architectural approach, which I call the dimension restriction hypothesis (DRH).
Must a theory of quantum gravity have some truth to it if it can recover general relativity in some limit of the theory? This paper answers this question in the negative by indicating that general relativity is multiply realizable in quantum gravity. The argument is inspired by spacetime functionalism – multiple realizability being a central tenet of functionalism – and proceeds via three case studies: induced gravity, thermodynamic gravity, and entanglement gravity. In these, general relativity in the form of the Einstein field equations can be recovered from elements that are either manifestly multiply realizable or at least of the generic nature that is suggestive of functions. If general relativity, as argued here, can inherit this multiple realizability, then a theory of quantum gravity can recover general relativity while being completely wrong about the posited microstructure. As a consequence, the recovery of general relativity cannot serve as the ultimate arbiter that decides which theory of quantum gravity that is worthy of pursuit, even though it is of course not irrelevant either qua quantum gravity. Thus, the recovery of general relativity in string theory, for instance, does not guarantee that the stringy account of the world is on the right track; despite sentiments to the contrary among string theorists.
Many researchers accuse the Predictive Processing (PP) framework of returning to nineteenth-century speculations regarding the knowledge of reality, the difference between phenomena and things in themselves, or questions about idealism. Dan Zahavi’s (2018) harsh criticism follows in this tradition. He argues that the supporters of PP are not able to justify realism or the common sense belief that the world of objects given in experience exists objectively, i.e. regardless of our cognitive capacities. In his opinion, adopting PP assumptions, we must abandon "our naïve realism", i.e. our conviction about the objective existence of everyday objects of experience, (Zahavi 2018, 48). In these considerations I will argue against the criticism made by this author. I will show that it can be reduced to three main objections: (1) representationalism objection; (2) indirect perception objection and (3) anti-realism objection. In response to these three objections, I will argue that Zahavi's criticism is based on a very selective and simplified reading of PP. Next, I will defend the thesis according to which perception in PP can be understood as indirect only in the psychological sense, not in metaphysical and epistemic. In response to the last charge, I will show that the representationalism postulated by conservative PP allows to justify the thesis that PP is the position of scientific realism. To this end, I will refer to the analysis of the concept of structural representations (S-representations), and then I will argue for the ontic nature of explanations using S-representations, based on the mechanistic model of scientific explanations.
When trying to understand athletes’ performance, motivation, and self-regulation, researchers often rely on the assessment of self-talk in sport, training, and competitive contexts. In this chapter, we first define self-talk and identify some of the ways that researchers typically conceptualize it, within and outside sport psychology. Then, we review the various self-talk assessment approaches in the sport psychology literature, focusing on the advantages and disadvantages of each approach and the popular measures within those approaches. We end the chapter with best practice recommendations for using self-talk measures in sport contexts.
D.M.Armstrong’s A Materialist Theory of the Mind is a prime source of many ideas that are still widely discussed in contemporary philosophy of mind (see Armstrong 1968). Among these are: • The causal or functionalist analysis of belief as a state apt to cause a certain sort of behavior; and the correlative analysis of a purpose (i.e., an intention or desire) as an information sensitive mental cause; • The analysis of perception in terms of belief: perception as the getting of belief about one’s immediate surroundings; • The analysis of other mental states in terms of perception, and so ultimately in terms of belief: sensation as a sort of perception of one’s own body, introspection a sort of perception of one’s own mind; • The analysis of a conscious mental state as a state that is the target of a certain sort of introspection, or inner perception; and • The distinctive two-premise argument for the identity of mental states with physical states of the central nervous system. The first premise of the argument, which follows from his causal analysis, is that mental states are states apt to produce a certain sort of behaviour. The second, empirical, premise is that c- fibers firing and other neurophysiological states are in fact states apt to produce that sort of behaviour. The conclusion is that mental states are physical states.
Gratitude is the proper or called-for response in a beneficiary to
benefits or beneficence from a benefactor. It is a topic of interest
in normative ethics, applied ethics, moral psychology, and political
philosophy. Despite its ubiquity in everyday life, there is
substantive disagreement among philosophers over the nature of
gratitude and its relationship to other philosophical concepts. The
sections of this article address five areas of debate about what
gratitude is, when gratitude is called for, and how the answers to
those questions bear on other topics in moral philosophy and
There is a strong philosophical intuition that direct study of the brain can and will constrain the development of psychological theory. When this intuition is tested against case studies on the neurophysiology and psychology of perception and memory, it turns out that psychology has led the way toward knowledge of neurophysiology. An abstract argument is developed to show that psychology can and must lead the way in neuro— scientific study of mental function. The opposing intuition is based on mainly weak arguments about the fundamentality or objectivity of physics or physiology in relation to psychology.
In a recent paper in this journal, Tobias Fuchs has offered a ‘working test’ for well-being. According to this test, if it is fitting to feel compassion for a subject because they have some property, then the subject is badly off because they have that property. Since subjects of deception seem a fitting target for compassion, this test is said to imply that a number of important views, including hedonism, are false. I argue that this line of reasoning is mistaken: seems fitting does not imply is badly off. I suggest that Fuchs’s test can tell us little about well-being that we do not already know; and ultimately, tests of the sort he proposes can yield little insight into the nature of well-being.
Recently published work by Wolfgang Schwarz, to an extent I'd thought impossible, offers an explanation of why there seem to be facts of phenomenal consciousness that we can know for sure. 'Red looks like this! …
Computational perspectivalism has been recently proposed as an alternative to mainstream accounts of physical computation, and especially to the teleologically-based mechanistic view. It takes physical computation to be partly dependent on explanatory perspectives, and eschews appeal to teleology in helping individuate computational systems. I assess several varieties of computational perspectivalism, showing that they either collapse into existing non-perspectival views; or end up with unsatisfactory or implausible accounts of physical computation. Computational perspectivalism fails therefore to be a compelling alternative to perspective-independent theories of computation in physical systems. I conclude that a teleologically-based, non-perspectival mechanistic account of physical computation is to be preferred.
In the introduction to their influential anthology on comparative cognition research, Wasserman & Zentall (2006: 4-5) summarize what I have called that discipline’s “Standard Practice”: [Cognition is] an animal’s ability to remember the past, to choose in the present, and to plan for the future….Unequivocal distinctions between cognition and simpler Pavlovian and instrumental learning processes… are devilishly difficult to devise….[but] unless clear evidence is provided that a more complex process has been used, C. Lloyd Morgan’s famous canon of parsimony obliges us to assume that it has not; we must then conclude that a simpler learning process can account for the learning…. The challenge then is to identify flexible behavior that cannot be accounted for by simpler learning mechanisms. Thus, a cognitive process is one that does not merely result from the repetition of a behavior or from the repeated pairing of a stimulus with reinforcement.
Imagine that your friend is standing in the street. As a car approaches, she looks in its direction and moves out of its way. An unremarkable event, to be sure. But suppose your friend tells you that she is a skeptic. By this she means (in part) that she never accepts anything as true: although the world appears to her to be various ways, she never accepts or believes that the world is as it appears to her to be. Now her moving out of the way might seem quite remarkable. Doesn’t it require that she at least believed that the car was approaching? Wouldn’t her profession of skepticism be incompatible with her moving?
Delayed choice scenarios in slit experiments as found standard quantum mechanics. The delayed choice in , and earlier in  and , have formed a rich area quantum eraser experiment turns out to resemble a of theoretical and experimental research, as evidenced in Bell-type scenario in which the resolution of the para- the literature ( [4–13], to name a few). From the results of dox is rather trivial, and so there really is no mystery. the original delayed choice experiment, John A. Wheeler At first glance, the experiment suggests that measure- concluded that
This is the second post in a series discussing some key ideas from Why Free Will is Real (Harvard University Press, 2019). Many thanks to John Schwenkler and the Brains Blog for giving me this opportunity. …
Kant’s reasons for asserting J→F are as follows: If, on the contrary, the judgment of beauty were grounded in a feeling of pleasure, then, according to him, it could only amount to a report of one’s subjective liking for the beautiful object. But a criterial feature of a judgment of beauty, on Kant’s view, is that it is not merely an expression of one’s subjective preference. Rather, a judgment of beauty makes a claim to “universal validity”: it claims, that is, that it is correct to — or, equivalently, that everyone ought to — find the judged object beautiful. This is possible, Kant argues, only if the pleasure is a consequence of judging.
The desire-satisfaction theory of well-being says, in its simplest form, that a person’s level of welfare is determined by the extent to which their desires are satisfied. A question faced by anyone attracted to such a view is, Which desires? This paper proposes a new answer to this question by characterizing a distinction among desires that isn’t much discussed in the well-being literature. This is the distinction between what a person wants in a merely behavioral sense, in that the person is, for some reason or other, disposed to act so as to try to get it, and what a person wants in a more robust sense, the sense of being genuinely attracted to the thing. I try to make this distinction more clear, and I argue for its axiological relevance by putting it to work in solving four problem cases for desire satisfactionism. The theory defended holds that only desires in the latter, genuine-attraction sense are relevant to welfare.
There is a popular theory in the metaphysics of time according to which time is one of four similar dimensions that make up a single manifold, which is appropriately called spacetime. Some of the ways in which time is supposed to be similar to the dimensions of space, according to this theory, include the following: (i) there is no intrinsic direction to time; (ii) physical objects are extended in time in virtue of having different temporal parts in different regions of time; (iii) the so-called ‘A-properties’ (such as being present, being past and being future) are not to be included in accurate descriptions of fundamental reality; (iv) there is no such thing as the passage of time; (v) there are no ontological distinctions between past, present and future. I will refer to this popular theory as the Spacetime Thesis. Here is a formulation of the view.