Mohan Matthen University of Toronto
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About me
I am currently a (senior) Canada Research Chair in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Toronto. My most active interests are in philosophy of mind, especially perception, and philosophy of biology. For the last few years, I have been writing about perception as directed activity we undertake in order to find out about the world. The first part of this contrasts with the idea that perception is passive, the second with the claim that it isn't for knowledge as such, but for bodily action. In the interest of broadening philosophical conceptions of perception, I teamed up with Dustin Stokes and Stephen Biggs to edit a book for Oxford University Press on "Perception and Its Modalities" (2014). I have just sent the Oxford Handbook of the Philosophy of Perception (forthcoming, 2015) into production. (It will also appear online in Oxford Handbooks Online.) I wrote a book called Seeing, Doing, and Knowing (OUP, 2005) in which I dealt with a wide range of contemporary philosophical issues in perception, treating these in an empirically sensitive way. In philosophy of biology, I have written about teleology, natural selection, and species. Before these rather contemporary concerns occupied me completely, I wrote about ancient philosophy.
My works
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  1. Mohan Matthen (2013). Millikan's Historical Kinds. In Dan Ryder, Justine Kingsbury & Kenneth Williford (eds.), Millikan and Her Critics. John Wiley & Sons. 135--154.
  2. Mohan Matthen (forthcoming). Comments on Gauker's Word and Image. Analysis Reviews.
    Christopher Gauker argues that no concept can be extracted from perceptual experience and that imagistic thought cannot draw boundaries between one kind and another. Here, it is argued, on the contrary, that images have extension and are consequently Fregean concepts. Hume’s theory of abstraction as indifference is offered as an account of extra-sensory concepts. Finally, it is argued that modern theories of sensory data processing run parallel to Kant’s idea of synthesis as a pre-condition for perception.
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  3. Mohan Matthen (forthcoming). Introduction to Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Perception. In , Oxford Handbook of the Philosophy of Perception. Oxford University Press.
    Perception is the ultimate source of our knowledge about contingent facts. It is an extremely important philosophical development that starting in the last quarter of the twentieth century, philosophers have begun to change how they think of perception. The traditional view of perception focussed on sensory receptors; it has become clear, however, that perceptual systems radically transform the output of these receptors, yielding content concerning objects and events in the external world. Adequate understanding of this process requires that we think (...)
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  4. Mohan Matthen (forthcoming). Play, Skill, and the Origins of Perceptual Art. British Journal of Aesthetics.
    Art is universal across cultures. Yet, it is biologically expensive because of the energy expended and reduced vigilance. Why do humans make and contemplate it? This paper advances a thesis about the psychological origins of perceptual art. First, it delineates the aspects of art that need explaining: not just why it is attractive, but why fine execution and form—which have to do with how the attraction is achieved—matter over and above attractiveness. Second, it states certain constraints: we need to explain (...)
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  5. Mohan Matthen (forthcoming). How to Explain Pleasure: Some Critical Remarks About Davies. British Journal of Aesthetics.
    In these critical remarks about Stephen Davies' The Artful Species, I outline the evolved roles of (a) emotions/drives/appetites, and (b) "telic" pleasure, which results from getting something beneficial. I argue that, contrary to Davies, aesthetic appreciation does not fall into either of the above categories (as normally understood). That is, aesthetic appreciation can neither be a drive to possess its object, nor pleasure in possessing that object. Rather, it is pleasure in contemplating that object. Evolutionary accounts fail, therefore, if they (...)
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  6. Mohan Matthen (forthcoming). The Individuation of the Senses. In , Oxford Handbook of the Philosophy of Perception. Oxford University Press.
    How many senses do humans possess? Five external senses, as most cultures have it—sight, hearing, touch, smell, and taste? Should proprioception, kinaesthesia, thirst, and pain be included, under the rubric bodily sense? What about the perception of time and the sense of number? Such questions reduce to two. 1. How do we distinguish a sense from other sorts of information-receiving faculties? 2. By what principle do we distinguish the senses? Aristotle discussed these questions in the De Anima. H. P. Grice (...)
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  7. Mohan Matthen (ed.) (forthcoming). The Oxford Handbook of the Philosophy of Perception. Oxford University Press.
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  8. Mohan Matthen (forthcoming). Unique Hues and Colour Experience. Routledge Handbook of the Philosophy of Colour.
    In this Handbook entry, I review how colour similarity spaces are constructed, first for physical sources of colour and secondly for colour as it is perceptually experienced. The unique hues are features of one of the latter constructions, due initially to Hering and formalized in the Swedish Natural Colour System. I review the evidence for a physiological basis for the unique hues. Finally, I argue that Tye's realist approach to the unique hues is a mistake.
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  9. Stephen Biggs, Mohan Matthen & Dustin Stokes (2014). Sorting the Senses. In Dustin Stokes, Mohan Matthen & Stephen Biggs (eds.), Perception and its Modalities. Oxford University Press. 1-19.
    We perceive in many ways. But several dubious presuppositions about the senses mask this diversity of perception. Philosophers, scientists, and engineers alike too often presuppose that the senses (vision, audition, etc.) are independent sources of information, perception being a sum of these independent contributions. We too often presuppose that we can generalize from vision to other senses. We too often presuppose that vision itself is best understood as a passive receptacle for an image thrown by a lens. In this essay (...)
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  10. Mohan Matthen (2014). Active Perception and the Representation of Space. In Dustin Stokes, Mohan Matthen & Stephen Biggs (eds.), Perception and Its Modalities. Oxford University Press. 44-72.
    Kant argued that the perceptual representations of space and time were templates for the perceived spatiotemporal ordering of objects, and common to all modalities. His idea is that these perceptual representations were specific to no modality, but prior to all—they are pre-modal, so to speak. In this paper, it is argued that active perception—purposeful interactive exploration of the environment by the senses—demands premodal representations of time and space.
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  11. Mohan Matthen (2014). Aristotle's Theory of Potentiality. In John P. Lizza (ed.), Potentiality: Metaphysical and Bioethical Dimensions. Johns Hopkins University Press. 29-48.
    In this paper, I examine Aristotle's notion of potentiality as it applies to the beginning of life. Aristotle’s notion of natural kinēsis implies that we should not treat the entity at the beginning of embryonic development as human, or indeed as the same as the one that is born. This leads us to ask: When does the embryo turn into a human? Aristotle’s own answer to this question is very harsh. Bracketing the views that lead to this harsh answer, his (...)
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  12. Mohan Matthen (2014). Debunking Enactivism: A Critical Notice of Hutto and Myin's Radicalizing Enactivism. [REVIEW] Canadian Journal of Philosophy 44 (1):118-128.
    In this review of Hutto and Myin's Radicalizing Enactivism, I question the adequacy of a non-representational theory of mind. I argue first that such a theory cannot differentiate cognition from other bodily engagements such as wrestling with an opponent. Second, I question whether the simple robots constructed by Rodney Brooks are adequate as models of multimodal organisms. Last, I argue that Hutto and Myin pay very little attention to how semantically interacting representations are needed to give an account of choice (...)
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  13. Mohan Matthen (2014). Eye Candy. Aeon 5.
    This is a short popular version of my views on aesthetic pleasure published in the online magazine, Aeon.
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  14. Mohan Matthen (2014). How to Be Sure: Sensory Exploration and Empirical Certainty. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 88 (1):38-69.
  15. Mohan Matthen (2014). Image Content. In Berit Brogaard (ed.), Does Perception Have Content? Oxford University Press. 265-290.
    The senses present their content in the form of images, three-dimensional arrays of located sense features. Peacocke’s “scenario content” is one attempt to capture image content; here, a richer notion is presented, sensory images include located objects and features predicated of them. It is argued that our grasp of the meaning of these images implies that they have propositional content. Two problems concerning image content are explored. The first is that even on an enriched conception, image content has certain expressive (...)
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  16. Mohan Matthen (2014). Review of Thomas Natsoulas, Consciousness and Perceptual Experience. [REVIEW] Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 2014.
    A review of Thomas Natsoulas's "Consciousness and Perceptual Experience.".
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  17. D. Stokes, M. Matthen & S. Biggs (eds.) (2014). Perception and Its Modalities. Oxford University Press.
    This volume is about the many ways we perceive. Contributors explore the nature of the individual senses, how and what they tell us about the world, and how they interrelate. They consider how the senses extract perceptual content from receptoral information. They consider what kinds of objects we perceive and whether multiple senses ever perceive a single event. They consider how many senses we have, what makes one sense distinct from another, and whether and why distinguishing senses may be useful. (...)
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  18. Mohan Matthen (2013). An Untutored Reaction of Incredulity: A Review of Thomas Nagel's Mind and Cosmos. Philosophers' Magazine 60 (-1):114 - 117.
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  19. Mohan Matthen (2013). Ethics in the Supply Chain. The Philosophers' Magazine 62 (62):23-25.
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  20. Louise Richardson, Fiona Macpherson, Mohan Matthen & Matthew Nudds, Symposium on Louise Richardson’s “Flavour, Taste and Smell”. Mind and Language Symposia at Brains.
  21. Mohan Matthen (2012). How Do We Know How Sensory Properties Appear? A Reply to Νenad Miščević. Croatian Journal of Philosophy 12 (3):509-518.
    The paper is a reply to Miščević (same volume). His objections are discussed and answered, in particular objections concerning Cartesian certainty in our knowledge of color.
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  22. Mohan Matthen (2012). Visual Demonstratives. In Athanasios Raftopoulos & Peter Machamer (eds.), Perception, Realism, and The Problem of Reference. Cambridge University Press.
    When I act on something, three kinds of idea (or representation) come into play. First, I have a non-visual representation of my goals. Second, I have a visual description of the kind of thing that I must act upon in order to satisfy my goals. Finally, I have an egocentric position locator that enables my body to interact with the object. It is argued here that these ideas are distinct. It is also argued that the egocentric position locator functions in (...)
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  23. Mohan Matthen (2011). Art, Sexual Selection, Group Selection (Critical Notice of Denis Dutton, The Art Instinct). Canadian Journal of Philosophy 41 (2):337-356.
    The capacity to engage with art is a human universal present in all cultures and just about every individual human. This indicates that this capacity is evolved. In this Critical Notice of Denis Dutton's The Art Instinct, I discuss various evolutionary scenarios and their consequences. Dutton and I both reject the "spandrel" approach that originates from the work of Gould and Lewontin. Dutton proposes, following work of Geoffrey Miller, that art is sexually selected--that art-production is a sign of a fit (...)
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  24. Mohan Matthen (2011). Review of Daniel W. McShea and Robert N. Brandon, Biology's First Law. [REVIEW] Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 2011 (1).
    McShea and Brandon propose that in the absence of constraint, biological diversity increases spontaneously. While heuristically useful, the thesis is unclear and of dubious empirical validity. The authors have no natural way to distinguish entropic decrease of diversity from the kind of increase that they are interested in. They make unsupported claims about how to explain dramatic increases of diversity and increases of functional complexity.
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  25. Jonathan D. Cohen & Mohan Matthen (eds.) (2010). Color Ontology and Color Science. Mit Press.
  26. Jonathan Cohen & Mohan Matthen (2010). Introduction. In Jonathan D. Cohen & Mohan Matthen (eds.), Color Ontology and Color Science. Mit Press.
    The Introduction discusses determinables and similarity spaces and ties together the contributions to Color Ontology and Color Science.
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  27. Mohan Matthen (2010). On the Diversity of Auditory Objects. Review of Philosophy and Psychology 1 (1):63-89.
    This paper defends two theses about sensory objects. The more general thesis is that directly sensed objects are those delivered by sub-personal processes. It is shown how this thesis runs counter to perceptual atomism, the view that wholes are always sensed indirectly, through their parts. The more specific thesis is that while the direct objects of audition are all composed of sounds, these direct objects are not all sounds—here, a composite auditory object is a temporal sequence of sounds (whereas a (...)
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  28. Mohan Matthen (2010). How Things Look (And What Things Look That Way). In Bence Nanay (ed.), Perceiving the World. Oxford University Press. 226.
    What colour does a white wall look in the pinkish light of the late afternoon? Philosophers disagree: they hold variously that it looks pink, white, both, and no colour at all. A new approach is offered. After reviewing the dispute, a reinterpretation of perceptual constancy is offered. In accordance with this reinterpretation, it is argued that perceptual features such as color must always be predicated of perceptual objects. Thus, it might be that in pinkish light, the wall looks white and (...)
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  29. Mohan Matthen (2010). Is Memory Preservation? Philosophical Studies 148 (1):3-14.
    Memory seems intuitively to consist in the preservation of some proposition (in the case of semantic memory) or sensory image (in the case of episodic memory). However, this intuition faces fatal difficulties. Semantic memory has to be updated to reflect the passage of time: it is not just preservation. And episodic memory can occur in a format (the observer perspective) in which the remembered image is different from the original sensory image. These difficulties indicate that memory cannot be preserved content. (...)
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  30. Mohan Matthen (2010). Color Experience: A Semantic Theory. In Jonathan Cohen & Mohan Matthen (eds.), Color Ontology and Color Science. MIT Press. 67--90.
    What is the relationship between color experience and color? Here, I defend the view that it is semantic: color experience denotes color in a code innately known by the perceiver. This semantic theory contrasts with a variety of theories according to which color is defined as the cause of color experience (in a special set of circumstances). It also contrasts with primary quality theories of color, which treat color as a physical quantity. I argue that the semantic theory better accounts (...)
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  31. Mohan Matthen (2010). Two Visual Systems and the Feeling of Presence. In Nivedita Gangopadhyay, Michael Madary & Finn Spicer (eds.), Perception, Action, and Consciousness: Sensorimotor Dynamics and Two Visual Systems. Oxford University Press. 107.
    Argues for a category of “cognitive feelings”, which are representationally significant, but are not part of the content of the states they accompany. The feeling of pastness in episodic memory, of familiarity (missing in Capgras syndrome), and of motivation (that accompanies desire) are examples. The feeling of presence that accompanies normal visual states is due to such a cognitive feeling; the “two visual systems” are partially responsible for this feeling.
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  32. Mohan Matthen (2010). What is Drift? A Response to Millstein, Skipper, and Dietrich. Philosophy and Theory in Biology 2 (20130604).
    The statistical interpretation of the Theory of Natural Selection claims that natural selection and drift are statistical features of mathematical aggregates of individual-level events. Natural selection and drift are not themselves causes. The statistical interpretation is motivated by a metaphysical conception of individual priority. Recently, Millstein, Skipper, and Dietrich (2009) have argued (a) that natural selection and drift are physical processes, and (b) that the statistical interpretation rests on a misconception of the role of mathematics in biology. Both theses are (...)
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  33. Mohan Matthen (2009). Chicken, Eggs, and Speciation. Noûs 43 (1):94-115.
    Standard biological and philosophical treatments assume that dramatic genotypic or phenotypic change constitutes instantaneous speciation, and that barring such saltation, speciation is gradual evolutionary change in individual properties. Both propositions appear to be incongruent with standard theoretical perspectives on species themselves, since these perspectives are (a) non-pheneticist, and (b) tend to disregard intermediate cases. After reviewing certain key elements of such perspectives, it is proposed that species-membership is mediated by membership in a population. Species-membership depends, therefore, not on intrinsic characteristics (...)
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  34. Mohan Matthen (2009). Drift and “Statistically Abstractive Explanation”. Philosophy of Science 76 (4):464-487.
    A hitherto neglected form of explanation is explored, especially its role in population genetics. “Statistically abstractive explanation” (SA explanation) mandates the suppression of factors probabilistically relevant to an explanandum when these factors are extraneous to the theoretical project being pursued. When these factors are suppressed, the explanandum is rendered uncertain. But this uncertainty traces to the theoretically constrained character of SA explanation, not to any real indeterminacy. Random genetic drift is an artifact of such uncertainty, and it is therefore wrong (...)
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  35. Mohan Matthen (2009). Truly Blue: An Adverbial Aspect of Perceptual Representation. Analysis 69 (1):48-54.
    It commonly occurs that one person sees a particular colour chip B as saturated blue with no admixture of red or green (i.e., as “uniquely blue”), while another sees it as a somewhat greenish blue. Such a difference is often accompanied by agreement with respect to colour matching – the two persons may mostly agree when asked whether two chips are of the same colour, and this may be so across the whole range of colours. Asked whether B is the (...)
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  36. Mohan Matthen (2009). Why Does Earth Move to the Center? An Examination of Some Explanatory Strategies in Aristotle's Cosmology. In Alan C. Bowen & Christian Wildberg (eds.), New Perspectives on Aristotle's De Caelo. Brill. 1--119.
    How, and why, does Earth (the element) move to the centre of Aristotle's Universe? In this paper, I argue that we cannot understand why it does so by reference merely to the nature of Earth, or the attractive force of the Centre. Rather, we have to understand the role that Earth plays in the cosmic order. Thus, in Aristotle, the behaviour of the elements is explained as one explains the function of organisms in a living organism.
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  37. Mohan Matthen & André Ariew (2009). Selection and Causation. Philosophy of Science 76 (2):201-224.
    We have argued elsewhere that: (A) Natural selection is not a cause of evolution. (B) A resolution-of-forces (or vector addition) model does not provide us with a proper understanding of how natural selection combines with other evolutionary influences. These propositions have come in for criticism recently, and here we clarify and defend them. We do so within the broad framework of our own “hierarchical realization model” of how evolutionary influences combine.
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  38. Mohan Matthen & André Ariew (2009). Selection and Causation. Philosophy of Science 76 (2):201-224.
    We have argued elsewhere that: (A) Natural selection is not a cause of evolution. (B) A resolution-of-forces (or vector addition) model does not provide us with a proper understanding of how natural selection combines with other evolutionary influences. These propositions have come in for criticism recently, and here we clarify and defend them. We do so within the broad framework of our own “hierarchical realization model” of how evolutionary influences combine.
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  39. Vincent Bergeron & Mohan Matthen (2008). Assembling the Emotions. In Luc Faucher & Christine Tappolet (eds.), The Modularity of Emotions. University of Calgary Press. 185-212.
    In this article, we discuss the modularity of the emotions. In a general methodological section, we discuss the empirical basis for the postulation of modularity. Then we discuss how certain modules -- the emotions in particular -- decompose into distinct anatomical and functional parts.
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  40. Mohan Matthen (2008). Review of Tyler Burge,, Foundations of Mind: Philosophical Essays, Volume 2. [REVIEW] Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 2008 (3).
    Review of collected papers on philosophy of mind by Tyler Burge.
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  41. Mohan Matthen (2008). Reply to Egan and Clark. [REVIEW] Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 76 (2):415–421.
  42. Mohan Matthen (2008). Seeing, Doing, and Knowing: A Précis. [REVIEW] Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 76 (2):392–399.
  43. Mohan Matthen (2007). Defining Vision: What Homology Thinking Contributes. Biology and Philosophy 22 (5):675-689.
    The specialization of visual function within biological function is reason for introducing “homology thinking” into explanations of the visual system. It is argued that such specialization arises when organisms evolve by differentiation from their predecessors. Thus, it is essentially historical, and visual function should be regarded as a lineage property. The colour vision of birds and mammals do not function the same way as one another, on this account, because each is an adaptation to special needs of the visual functions (...)
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  44. Mohan Matthen & Christopher Stephens (eds.) (2007). Philosophy of Biology. Elsevier.
    This collection of 25 essays by leading researchers provides an overview of the state of the field.
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  45. Mohan Matthen (2006). Review: Action in Perception. [REVIEW] Mind 115 (460):1160-1166.
    This a review of Alva Noë's Action in Perception. It argues that a distinction should be made between the proposition that sensorimotor feedback is used in sensory perception and that perception is of sensorimotor features of the world. Noë fails to make this distinction.
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  46. Mohan P. Matthen (2006). On Visual Experience of Objects: Comments on John Campbell's Reference and Consciousness. Philosophical Studies 127 (2):195-220.
    John Campbell argues that visual attention to objects is the means by which we can refer to objects, and that this is so because conscious visual attention enables us to retrieve information about a location. It is argued here that while Campbell is right to think that we visually attend to objects, he does not give us sufficient ground for thinking that consciousness is involved, and is wrong to assign an intermediary role to location. Campbell’s view on sortals is also (...)
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  47. Mohan P. Matthen (2006). Teleosemantics and the Consumer. In Graham F. Macdonald & David Papineau (eds.), Teleosemantics. Oxford University Press. 146--166.
    Argues that the meaning of perceptual states depends on certain simple "actions" of conditioning and habituation innately associated with them. A game theoretic account of the meaning of perceptual states is offered.
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  48. Marc Ereshefsky & Mohan Matthen (2005). Taxonomy, Polymorphism, and History: An Introduction to Population Structure Theory. Philosophy of Science 72 (1):1-21.
    Homeostatic Property Cluster (HPC) theory suggests that species and other biological taxa consist of organisms that share certain similarities. HPC theory acknowledges the existence of Darwinian variation within biological taxa. The claim is that “homeostatic mechanisms” acting on the members of such taxa nonetheless ensure a significant cluster of similarities. The HPC theorist’s focus on individual similarities is inadequate to account for stable polymorphism within taxa, and fails properly to capture their historical nature. A better approach is to treat distributions (...)
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  49. Mohan Matthen (2005). Is Color Perception Really Categorical? Behavioral and Brain Sciences 28 (4):504-505.
    Are color categories the evolutionary product of their usefulness in communication, or is this an accidental benefit they give us? It is argued here that embodiment constraints on color categorization suggest that communication is an add-on at best. Thus, the Steels & Belpaeme (S&B) model may be important in explaining coordination, but only at the margin. Furthermore, the concentration on discrimination is questionable: coclassification is at least as important.
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  50. Mohan Matthen (2005). Review of Philip Kitcher, In Mendel's Mirror. [REVIEW] Journal of Philosophy 102 (4).
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  51. Mohan Matthen (2005). In Mendel's Mirror. Journal of Philosophy 102 (4):206-216.
  52. Mohan Matthen (2005). Visual Concepts. Philosophical Topics 33 (1):207-233.
    Perceptual content is conceptual. In this paper, some arguments against this thesis are examined and rebutted. The Richness argument, that we could not have concepts for all the colours, is queried: Doesn't the Munsell system give us such concepts? The argument that we can perceive colours and shapes without possessing the relevant concepts is rebutted: we cannot do this, but the kind of concept-possession that is relevant here is not intellectual but perceptual.
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  53. Mohan P. Matthen (2005). Seeing, Doing, and Knowing: A Philosophical Theory of Sense Perception. Oxford University Press.
    Seeing, Doing, and Knowing is an original and comprehensive philosophical treatment of sense perception as it is currently investigated by cognitive neuroscientists. Its central theme is the task-oriented specialization of sensory systems across the biological domain; these systems coevolve with an organism's learning and action systems, providing the latter with classifications of external objects in terms of sensory categories purpose--built for their need. On the basis of this central idea, Matthen presents novel theories of perceptual similarity, content, and realism. His (...)
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  54. Mohan Matthen & Andre Ariew (2005). How to Understand Casual Relations in Natural Selection: Reply to Rosenberg and Bouchard. [REVIEW] Biology and Philosophy 20 (2-3):355-364.
    In “Two Ways of Thinking About Fitness and Natural Selection” (Matthen and Ariew [2002]; henceforth “Two Ways”), we asked how one should think of the relationship between the various factors invoked to explain evolutionary change – selection, drift, genetic constraints, and so on. We suggested that these factors are not related to one another as “forces” are in classical mechanics. We think it incoherent, for instance, to think of natural selection and drift as separate and opposed “forces” in evolutionary change (...)
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  55. Mohan P. Matthen (2004). Features, Places, and Things: Reflections on Austen Clark's Theory of Sentience. Philosophical Psychology 17 (4):497-518.
    The paper argues that material objects are the primary referents of visual states -- not places, as Austen Clark would have it in his A Theory of Sentience.
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  56. Christopher Stephens & Mohan Matthen (eds.) (2004). Elsevier Handbook in Philosophy of Biology. Elsevier.
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  57. Mohan Matthen (2003). Color Nominalism, Pluralistic Realism, and Color Science. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 26 (1):39-40.
    Byrne & Hilbert are right that it might be an objective fact that a particular tomato is unique red, but wrong that it cannot simultaneously be yellowish-red (not only objectively, but from somebody else's point of view). Sensory categorization varies among organisms, slightly among conspecifics, and sharply across taxa. There is no question of truth or falsity concerning choice of categories, only of utility and disutility. The appropriate framework for color categories is Nominalism and Pluralistic Realism.
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  58. Mohan Matthen (2003). Is Sex Really Necessary? And Other Questions for Lewens. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 54 (2):297-308.
    It has been claimed that certain forms of individual essentialism render the Theory of Natural Selection unable to explain why any given individual has the traits it does. Here, three reasons are offered why the Theory ought to ignore these forms of essentialism. First, the trait-distributions explained by population genetics supervene on individual-level causal links, and thus selection must have individual-level effects. Second, even if there are individuals that possess thick essences, they lie outside the domain of the Theory. Finally, (...)
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  59. Mohan Matthen (2003). Review of Benjamin Morison, On Location: Aristotle's Concept of Place. [REVIEW] Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 2003 (2).
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  60. Mohan Matthen (2002). Origins Are Not Essences in Evolutionary Systematics. Canadian Journal of Philosophy 32 (2):167 - 181.
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  61. Mohan P. Matthen (2002). Human Rationality and the Unique Origin Constraint. In André Ariew (ed.), Functions. Oxford University Press. 341.
    This paper offers a new definition of "adaptationism". An evolutionary account is adaptationist, it is suggested, if it allows for multiple independent origins for the same function -- i.e., if it violates the "Unique Origin Constraint". While this account captures much of the position Gould and Lewontin intended to stigmatize, it leaves it open that adaptationist accounts may sometimes be appropriate. However, there are many important cases, including that of human rationality, in which it is not.
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  62. Mohan Matthen & André Ariew (2002). Two Ways of Thinking About Fitness and Natural Selection. Journal of Philosophy 99 (2):55-83.
    How do fitness and natural selection relate to other evolutionary factors like architectural constraint, mode of reproduction, and drift? In one way of thinking, drawn from Newtonian dynamics, fitness is one force driving evolutionary change and added to other factors. In another, drawn from statistical thermodynamics, it is a statistical trend that manifests itself in natural selection histories. It is argued that the first model is incoherent, the second appropriate; a hierarchical realization model is proposed as a basis for a (...)
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  63. Mohan Matthen (2001). How (and Why) Darwinian Selection Restricts Environmental Feedback. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 24 (3):545-545.
    Selectionist models date back to Empedocles in Ancient Greece. The novelty of Darwinian selection is that it is able to produce adaptively valuable things without being sensitive to adaptive value. Darwin achieved this result by a restriction of environmental feedback to the replicative process. Immune system selection definitely does not respect this restriction, and it is doubtful whether operant learning does.
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  64. Mohan Matthen (2001). Holistic Methods in Aristotle's Cosmology. In David Sedley (ed.), Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy: Volume Xx Summer 2001. Clarendon Press.
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  65. Mohan Matthen (2001). Holistic Presuppositions of Aristotle's Cosmology. Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy 20:171-199.
    Argues that Aristotle regarded the universe, or Totality, as a single substance with form and matter, and that he regarded this substance together with the Prime Mover as a self-mover.
     
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  66. Mohan Matthen (2001). Tad Brennan, Ethics and Epistemology in Sextus Empiricus Reviewed By. Philosophy in Review 21 (4):237-239.
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  67. Mohan P. Matthen (2001). Our Knowledge of Colour. Canadian Journal of Philosophy 31 (Supplement):215-246.
    Scientists are often bemused by the efforts of philosophers essaying a theory of colour: colour science sports a huge array of facts and theories, and it is unclear to its practitioners what philosophy can or is trying to contribute. Equally, philosophers tend to be puzzled about how they can fit colour science into their investigations without compromising their own disciplinary identity: philosophy is supposed to be an _a priori_ investigation; philosophers do not work in psychophysics labs – not in their (...)
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  68. Mohan P. Matthen (2001). What Colors? Whose Colors? Consciousness and Cognition 10 (1):117-124.
  69. Mohan Matthen (2000). Intentionality and the Linguistic Analogy. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science-Part C 31 (1):77-94.
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  70. Mohan Matthen (2000). What is a Hand? What is a Mind? Revue Internationale de Philosophie (214):653-672.
    Argues that biological organs, including mental capacities, should be identified by homology (not function).
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  71. M. Matthen (1999). Evolution, Wisconsin Style: Selection and the Explanation of Individual Traits. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 50 (1):143-150.
    natural selection may show why all (most, some) humans have an opposable thumb, but cannot show why any particular human has one, Karen Neander ([1995a], [1995b]) argues that this is false because natural selection is 'cumulative'. It is argued here, on grounds independent of its cumulativity, that selection can explain the characteristics of individual organisms subsequent to the event. The difference of opinion between Sober and his critics turns on an ontological dispute about how organisms are identified and individuated. The (...)
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  72. Mohan P. Matthen (1999). The Disunity of Color. Philosophical Review 108 (1):47-84.
    What is color? What is color vision? Most philosophers answer by reference to humans: to human color qualia, or to the environmental properties or "quality spaces" perceived by humans. It is argued, with reference to empirical findings concerning comparative color vision and the evolution of color vision, that all such attempts are mistaken. An adequate definition of color vision must eschew reference to its outputs in the human cognition and refer only to inputs: color vision consists in the use of (...)
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  73. Mohan Matthen (1998). Biological Universals and the Nature of Fear. Journal of Philosophy 95 (3):105-132.
    Cognitive definitions cannot accommodate fear as it occurs in species incapable of sophisticated cognition. Some think that fear must, therefore, be noncognitive. This paper explores another option, arguably more in line with evolutionary theory: that like other "biological universals" fear admits of variation across and within species. A paradigm case of such universals is species: it is argued that they can be defined by ostension in the manner of Putnam and Kripke without implying that they must have an invariable essence. (...)
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  74. Mohan P. Matthen (1997). Teleology and the Product Analogy. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 75 (1):21 – 37.
    This article presents an analogical account of the meaning of function attributions in biology. To say that something has a function analogizes it with an artifact, but since the analogy rests on a necessary (but possibly insufficient) basis, function statements can still be assessed as true or false in an objective sense.
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  75. Mohan Matthen & R. J. Hankinson (1993). Aristotle's Universe: Its Form and Matter. Synthese 96 (3):417 - 435.
    It is argued that according to Aristotle the universe is a single substance with its own form and matter.
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  76. Mohan Matthen (1992). Color Vision: Content Versus Experience. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 15 (1):46-47.
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  77. Mohan Matthen (1991). Biological Realism. Philosophica 47.
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  78. Mohan Matthen (1991). Naturalism and Teleology. Journal of Philosophy 88 (11):656-657.
    A brief comment on Mark Bedau's critique of naturalist theories of teleology. A positive account is offered in "Teleology and the Product Analogy".
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  79. Mohan Matthen (1991). What Sort of Science Is Evolutionary Biology? Dialogue 30 (1-2):129-.
    A review of Paul Thompson's semantic interpretation of evolutionary theory.
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  80. Mohan Matthen (1989). The Four Causes in Aristotle's Embryology. Apeiron 22 (4):159 - 179.
  81. Mohan P. Matthen (1989). Intensionality and Perception: A Reply to Rosenberg. Journal of Philosophy 86 (December):727-733.
  82. Mohan Matthen (1988). Empiricism and Ontology in Ancient Medicine. Apeiron 21 (2):99 - 121.
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  83. Mohan P. Matthen (1988). Biological Functions and Perceptual Content. Journal of Philosophy 85 (January):5-27.
    Perceptions "present" objects as red, as round, etc.-- in general as possessing some property. This is the "perceptual content" of the title, And the article attempts to answer the following question: what is a materialistically adequate basis for assigning content to what are, after all, neurophysiological states of biological organisms? The thesis is that a state is a perception that presents its object as "F" if the "biological function" of the state is to detect the presence of objects that are (...)
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  84. Mohan Matthen (ed.) (1987). Aristotle Today.
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  85. Mohan Matthen (1987). „Introduction: The Structure of Aristotelian Science.". In , Aristotle Today. 1--23.
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  86. Mohan Matthen (1986). A Note on Parmenides' Denial of Past and Future. Dialogue 25 (03):553-.
    Does Parmenides really use the non-existence argument to deny the past?
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  87. Mohan Matthen (1985). David Gallop, Parmenides of Elea: Fragments Reviewed By. Philosophy in Review 5 (3):113-116.
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  88. Mohan Matthen (1985). Perception, Relativism, and Truth: Reflections on Plato's Theaetetus 152–160. Dialogue 24 (01):33-.
    The standard interpretation of "Theaetetus" 152-160 has Plato attribute to Protagoras a relativistic theory of truth and existence. It is argued here that in fact the individuals of Protagorean worlds are inter-Personal. (thus the Protagorean theory has public objects, but private truth). Also, a new interpretation is offered of Plato's use of heraclitean flux to model relativism. The philosophical and semantic consequences of the interpretation are explored.
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  89. Mohan Matthen (1984). Forms and Participants in Plato's Phaedo. Noûs 18 (2):281-297.
  90. Mohan Matthen (1984). JL Ackrill, Aristotle the Philosopher Reviewed By. Philosophy in Review 4 (2):47-49.
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  91. Mohan Matthen (1984). Ostension, Names and Natural Kind Terms. Dialogue 23 (01):44-58.
    It has been suggested that the theory of reference advanced by Kripke and Putnam implies, or presupposes, an aristotelian vision of natural kinds and essences. I argue that what is in fact established is that there are degrees of naturalness among kinds. A parallel argument shows that there are degrees of naturalness among individuals. A subsidiary theme of the paper is that the definition of "natural kind term" as "rigid designator of a natural kind" is mistaken. Names and natural kind (...)
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  92. Mohan Matthen (1984). On the Difference Between Non-Connoting Terms and Rigid Designators: A Reply to Bradley. Dialogue 23 (01):79-83.
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  93. Mohan Matthen (1984). Relationality in Plato's Metaphysics: Reply to McPherran. Phronesis 29 (3):304-312.
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  94. Mohan Matthen & Edwin Levy (1984). Teleology, Error, and the Human Immune System. Journal of Philosophy 81 (7):351-372.
    The authors attempt to show that certain forms of behavior of the human immune system are illuminatingly regarded as errors in that system's operation. Since error-ascription can occur only within the context of an intentional/teleological characterization of the system, it follows that such a characterization is illuminating. It is argued that error-ascription is objective, non-anthropomorphic, irreducible to any purely causal form of explanation of the same behavior, and further that it is wrong to regard all errors of the immune system (...)
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  95. Mohan Matthen (1983). Greek Ontology and the 'Is' of Truth. Phronesis 28 (2):113 - 135.
    The author investigates greek ontologies that apparently rely on a conflation of "binary" (x is f) and "monadic" (x is) uses of 'is'. He uses Aristotelian and other texts to support his proposal that these ontologies are explained by the Greeks using two alternative semantic analyses for 'x is F'. The first views it as asserting a relation between x and F, the second as asserting that a "predicative complex" exists, where a predicative complex is a complex consisting of x (...)
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  96. Mohan Matthen (1982). Plato's Treatment of Relational Statements in the Phaedo. Phronesis 27 (1):90-100.
    The author attempts here to sketch the beginnings of an adequate interpretation of Plato's treatment of the tall and the equal in the "Phaedo". The paper consists of seven sections (roman numerals). In I-II, he (a) argues that any attempt to solve the puzzle stated at "Phaedo" 102 bc within the parameters there set down would "eo ipso" be an attempted theory of relational statements; (b) formulates that puzzle; and (c) shows that Frege solved it by denying its presuppositions. In (...)
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  97. Mohan Matthen (1978). Sense and Contradiction (Review). Journal of the History of Philosophy 16 (3):345-347.
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  98. Mohan Matthen (1978). The Categories and Aristotle's Ontology. Dialogue 17 (02):228-243.
    Much recent work on Aristotle's Categories assumes that there is an ontological theory presented in that work and tries to reconstruct it on the basis of the slender evidence in the book. I claim that this is misguided. Using a distinction made by G.E.L. Owen between theory and the "phaenomena", I argue that the Categories is mainly concerned with setting out the phenomena -- the intuitions that any ontology must explain. This thesis has consequences for the interpretation of Aristotle's ontological (...)
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  99. Mohan Matthen, Representationalism Defended.
    This is a comment on Frances Egan's paper, "How to Think About Mental Content." Egan distinguishes mathematical and cognitive content; she accepts the former and rejects the latter. In this comment, which was delivered at the Oberlin Colloquium in 2012, I defend cognitive content.
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