Dan Ryder University of British Columbia
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  • Faculty, University of British Columbia
  • PhD, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, 2002.

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  1. Dan Ryder, Justine Kingsbury & Kenneth Williford (eds.) (2013). Millikan and Her Critics. John Wiley & Sons.
    Millikan and Her Critics offers a unique critical discussion of Ruth Millikan's highly regarded, influential, and systematic contributions to philosophy of mind and language, philosophy of biology, epistemology, and metaphysics. These newly written contributions present discussion from some of the most important philosophers in the field today and include replies from Millikan herself.
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  2. Dan Ryder (2009). Problems of Representation I: Nature and Role. In John Symons Paco Calvo (ed.), The Routledge Companion to Philosophy of Psychology. Routledge. 233.
    Introduction There are some exceptions, which we shall see below, but virtually all theories in psychology and cognitive science make use of the notion of representation. Arguably, folk psychology also traffics in representations, or is at least strongly suggestive of their existence. There are many different types of things discussed in the psychological and philosophical literature that are candidates for representation-hood. First, there are the propositional attitudes – beliefs, judgments, desires, hopes etc. (see Chapters 9 and 17 of this volume). (...)
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  3. Dan Ryder (2009). Problems of Representation II: Naturalizing Content. In Francisco Garzon & John Symons (eds.), Routledge Companion to the Philosophy of Psychology. Routledge.
    John is currently thinking that the sun is bright. Consider his occurrent belief or judgement that the sun is bright. Its content is that the sun is bright. This is a truth- evaluable content (which shall be our main concern) because it is capable of being true or false. In virtue of what natural, scientifically accessible facts does John’s judgement have this content? To give the correct answer to that question, and to explain why John’s judgement and other contentful mental (...)
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  4. Dan Ryder (2009). Review of Radu J. Bogdan, Predicative Minds: The Social Ontogeny of Propositional Thinking. [REVIEW] Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 2009 (8).
  5. Dan Ryder (2006). On Thinking of Kinds: A Neuroscientific Perspective. In Graham MacDonald & David Papineau (eds.), Teleosemantics: New Philosophical Essays. Oxford University Press. 115-145.
    Reductive, naturalistic psychosemantic theories do not have a good track record when it comes to accommodating the representation of kinds. In this paper, I will suggest a particular teleosemantic strategy to solve this problem, grounded in the neurocomputational details of the cerebral cortex. It is a strategy with some parallels to one that Ruth Millikan has suggested, but to which insufficient attention has been paid. This lack of attention is perhaps due to a lack of appreciation for the severity of (...)
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  6. Dan Ryder (2004). Review Essay: Meditations on First Neuroscience: Critical Notice of Mark Changizi's the Brain From 25,000 Feet. [REVIEW] Synthese 141 (2):277 - 285.
  7. Dan Ryder (2004). SINBaD Neurosemantics: A Theory of Mental Representation. Mind and Language 19 (2):211-240.
  8. Dan Ryder (2003). Empiricism Regained (Comments on Prinz's Furnishing the Mind). Metascience 12.
    In this wide-ranging book, Jesse Prinz attempts to resuscitate a strand of empiricism continuous with the classical thesis that all Ideas are imagistic. His name for this strand is “concept empiricism,” and he formulates it as follows: “all (human) concepts are copies or combinations of copies of perceptual representations” (p. 108). In the process of defending concept empiricism, Prinz is careful not to commit himself to a number of other theses commonly associated with empiricism more broadly construed. For example, he (...)
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  9. Jonathan M. Weinberg, Daniel Yarlett, Michael Ramscar, Dan Ryder & Jesse J. Prinz (2003). Jesse J. Prinz,Furnishing the Mind: Concepts and Their Perceptual Basis. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2002. [REVIEW] Metascience 12 (3):279-303.
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  10. Dan Ryder (2002). Neurosemantics: A Theory. Dissertation, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
  11. Dan Ryder & Oleg Favorov (2001). The New Associationism: A Neural Explanation of the Predictive Powers of the Cerebral Cortex. [REVIEW] Brain and Mind 2 (2):161-194.
    The ability to predict is the most importantability of the brain. Somehow, the cortex isable to extract regularities from theenvironment and use those regularities as abasis for prediction. This is a most remarkableskill, considering that behaviourallysignificant environmental regularities are noteasy to discern: they operate not only betweenpairs of simple environmental conditions, astraditional associationism has assumed, butamong complex functions of conditions that areorders of complexity removed from raw sensoryinputs. We propose that the brain's basicmechanism for discovering such complexregularities is implemented in (...)
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  12. Dan Ryder & Oleg V. Favorov (2001). Empiricist Word Learning. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 24 (6):1117-1117.
    At first, Bloom's theory appears inimical to empiricism, since he credits very young children with highly sophisticated cognitive resources (e.g., a theory of mind and a belief that real kinds have essences), and he also attacks the empiricist's favoured learning theory, namely, associationism. We suggest that, on the contrary, the empiricist can embrace much of what Bloom says.
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  13. Dan Ryder, Concept Acquisition: How to Get Something From Nothing.
    First I should clarify my thesis. When I say the mind starts off as a blank slate, I’m saying that it’s devoid of substantive concepts or ideas, that is non-logical concepts or ideas. Some examples of substantive concepts are: the concept of a cat, the concept of a quark, the concept of being square, and the concept of heaviness.
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  14. Dan Ryder, Explaining the "Inhereness" of Qualia Representationally: Why We Seem to Have a Visual Field.
    A representationalist about qualia takes qualitative states to be aspects of the intentional content of sensory or sensory-like representations. When you experience the redness of an apple, they say, your visual system is merely representing that there is a red surface at such-and-such a place in front of you. And when you experience a red afterimage, your visual system is (non-veridically) representing something similar (Harman 1990, Dretske 1995, Tye 1995, Lycan 1996). Your sensory state does not literally have an intrinsic (...)
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  15. Dan Ryder, Models in the Brain (Book Summary).
    The central idea is that the cerebral cortex is a model building machine, where regularities in the world serve as templates for the models it builds. First it is shown how this idea can be naturalized, and how the representational contents of our internal models depend upon the evolutionarily endowed design principles of our model building machine. Current neuroscience suggests a powerful form that these design principles may take, allowing our brains to uncover deep structures of the world hidden behind (...)
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  16. Dan Ryder, The Autonomic Nervous System and Dretske on Phenomenal Consciousness.
    Title page Representational theories propose a set of sufficient conditions for a state to be phenomenally conscious. It turns out that insofar as these conditions have been worked out in detail, the autonomic nervous system (ANS) ought to be conscious - but of course it’s not. In this paper, we’ll describe only a tiny portion of the complexities of the ANS, using these to counterexample only a single theory of phenomenal consciousness, namely, Fred Dretske’s. But we think the ANS comparison (...)
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  17. Dan Ryder, The Brain as a Model-Making Machine.
    In this paper, I will introduce you to a new theory of mental representation, emphasizing two important features. First, the theory coheres very well with folk psychology; better, I believe, than its competitors (e.g. Cummins, 1996; Dretske, 1988; Fodor, 1987 and Millikan, 1989, with which it has the most in common), though I will do little by way of direct comparison in this paper. Second, it receives support from current neuroscience. While other theories may be consistent with current neuroscience, none (...)
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  18. Oleg V. Favorov & Dan Ryder, Sinbad: A Neocortical Mechanism for Discovering Environmental Variables and Regularities Hidden in Sensory Input.
    We propose that a top priority of the cerebral cortex must be the discovery and explicit representation of the environmental variables that contribute as major factors to environmental regularities. Any neural representation in which such variables are represented only implicitly (thus requiring extra computing to use them) will make the regularities more complex and therefore more difficult, if not impossible, to learn. The task of discovering such important environmental variables is not an easy one, since their existence is only indirectly (...)
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  19. Dan Ryder, Critical Notice of Stephen Mumford's Dispositions.
    Stephen Mumford's Dispositions1 is an interesting and thought-provoking addition to a recent surge of publications on the topic.2 Dispositions have not been such a hot topic since the heyday of behaviourism. But as Mumford argues in his first chapter, the importance of dispositions to contemporary philosophy can hardly be underestimated. Dispositions are fundamental to causal role functionalism in the philosophy of mind, response-dependent truth conditional accounts of moral and other concepts,3 capacity accounts of concepts more generally,4 theories of belief, the (...)
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  20. Dan Ryder, Models in the Brain.
    The mind-body problem is typically divided into three parts: how is it that a physical thing can be conscious? How is it that a physical thing can display intentionality? And how is it that a physical thing can be rational? These three problems correspond to three leading features of the mind, each of which at one time or another has been called a “mark” of the mental (by, inter alia, Descartes, Brentano, and Sellars respectively).
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  21. Dan Ryder, Too Close for Comfort? Psychosemantics and the Distal.
    What makes a mental representation about what it's about? The majority view among naturalists seems to be that representation has something to do with causation, or information, or correlation, or some other related notion. But such "information-based" views (e.g. Fodor, Prinz, Stalnaker, Usher, Mandik, Tye, and lots of other people who gesture towards this kind of theory1) cannot accommodate representation of the distal.
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  22. Dan Ryder, Who's Afraid of the Big, Bad Wolf? Naturalizing Empty Concepts.
    Externalist theories of representation (including most naturalistic psychosemantic theories) typically require some relation to obtain between a representation and what it represents. As a result, empty concepts cause problems for such theories. I offer a naturalistic and externalist account of empty concepts that shows how they can be shared across individuals. On this account, the brain is a general-purpose model-building machine, where items in the world serve as templates for model construction. Shareable empty concepts arise when there is a common (...)
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