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Profile: Mark Sprevak (University of Edinburgh)
  1. Mark Sprevak, Algorithms and the Chinese Room.
     
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  2. Mark Sprevak, Not All Computations Are Effective Methods.
    I argue in this paper that not all computations are effective methods. I consider a number of examples, and focus on those drawn from quantum computation. I consider three responses that would allow one to hold onto the claim that all computations are effective methods. I argue that none of these responses is satisfactory. I conclude that the idea motivating the claim, namely, that the class of computations can be characterised in terms of the notion of effective method, has to (...)
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  3. Jesper Kallestrup & Mark Sprevak (eds.) (forthcoming). New Waves in Philosophy of Mind. Palgrave Macmillan.
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  4. Mark Sprevak (forthcoming). Commentary on 'Conceptual Challenges in the Neuroimaging of Psychiatric Disorders'. Philosophy, Psychiatry and Psychology.
    Kanaan and McGuire elegantly describe three challenges facing the use of fMRI to uncover cognitive mechanisms. They shows how these challenges ramify in the case of identifying the mechanisms responsible for psychiatric disorders. In this commentary, I would like to raise another difficulty for fMRI that also appears to ramify in similar cases. This is that there are good reasons for doubting one of the assumptions on which many fMRI studies are based: that neural mechanisms are always and everywhere sufficient (...)
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  5. Mark Sprevak (forthcoming). Realism and Instrumentalism. In H. Pashler (ed.), The Encyclopedia of the Mind. SAGE Publications.
    The choice between realism and instrumentalism is at the core of concerns about how our scientific models relate to reality: Do our models aim to be literally true descriptions of reality, or is their role only as useful instruments for generating predictions? Realism about X, roughly speaking, is the claim that X exists and has its nature independent of our interests, attitudes, and beliefs. An instrumentalist about X denies this. She claims that talk of X should be understood as no (...)
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  6. Mark Sprevak & Jesper Kallestrup (eds.) (forthcoming). New Waves in Philosophy of Mind. Palgrave.
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  7. Mark Sprevak (2013). Fictionalism About Neural Representations. The Monist 96 (4):539-560.
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  8. Mark Sprevak (2011). Neural Sufficiency, Reductionism, and Cognitive Neuropsychiatry. Philosophy, Psychiatry, and Psychology 18 (4):339-344.
  9. Mark Sprevak (2010). Computation and Cognitive Science. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 41 (3):223-226.
    Nowadays, it has become almost a matter of course to say that human mind is like a computer. Folks in all walks of life talk of ‘programming’ themselves, ‘multi-tasking’, running different ‘operating systems’, and sometimes of ‘crashing’ and being ‘rebooted’. Few who have used computers have not been touched by the appeal of the idea that our inner workings somehow resemble computing machines. The success of modern day computational psychology appears to bears witness to the explanatory and predictive pay-off in (...)
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  10. Mark Sprevak (2010). Computation, Individuation, and the Received View on Representation. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 41 (3):260-270.
    The ‘received view’ about computation is that all computations must involve representational content. Egan and Piccinini argue against the received view. In this paper, I focus on Egan’s arguments, claiming that they fall short of establishing that computations do not involve representational content. I provide positive arguments explaining why computation has to involve representational content, and how the representational content may be of any type (e.g. distal, broad, etc.). I also argue (contra Egan and Fodor) that there is no need (...)
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  11. Mark Sprevak (2010). Functionalism and Extended Cognition. Journal of Philosophy 106:503-527.
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  12. Mark Sprevak (2010). Inference to the Hypothesis of Extended Cognition. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 41 (4):353-362.
    This paper examines the justification for the hypothesis of extended cognition (HEC). HEC claims that human cognitive processes can, and often do, extend outside our heads to include objects in the environment. HEC has been justified by inference to the best explanation (IBE). Both advocates and critics of HEC claim that we should infer the truth value of HEC based on whether HEC makes a positive, or negative, explanatory contribution to cognitive science. I argue that IBE cannot play this epistemic (...)
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  13. Mark Sprevak (2009). Extended Cognition and Functionalism. Journal of Philosophy 106 (9):503-527.
    Andy Clark and David Chalmers claim that cognitive processes can and do extend outside the head.1 Call this the “hypothesis of extended cognition” (HEC). HEC has been strongly criticised by Fred Adams, Ken Aizawa and Robert Rupert.2 In this paper I argue for two claims. First, HEC is a harder target than Rupert, Adams and Aizawa have supposed. A widely-held view about the nature of the mind, functionalism—a view to which Rupert, Adams and Aizawa appear to subscribe— entails HEC. Either (...)
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  14. Mark Sprevak (2008). Kripke's Paradox and the Church-Turing Thesis. Synthese 160 (2):285-295.
    Kripke (1982, Wittgenstein on rules and private language. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press) presents a rule-following paradox in terms of what we meant by our past use of “plus”, but the same paradox can be applied to any other term in natural language. Many responses to the paradox concentrate on fixing determinate meaning for “plus”, or for a small class of other natural language terms. This raises a problem: how can these particular responses be generalised to the whole of natural language? (...)
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  15. Mark Sprevak (2007). Chinese Rooms and Program Portability. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 58 (4):755 - 776.
    I argue in this article that there is a mistake in Searle's Chinese room argument that has not received sufficient attention. The mistake stems from Searle's use of the Church-Turing thesis. Searle assumes that the Church-Turing thesis licences the assumption that the Chinese room can run any program. I argue that it does not, and that this assumption is false. A number of possible objections are considered and rejected. My conclusion is that it is consistent with Searle's argument to hold (...)
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  16. Mark Sprevak (2005). The Chinese Carnival. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 36 (1):203-209.
    In contrast to many areas of contemporary philosophy, something like a carnival atmosphere surrounds Searle’s Chinese room argument. Not many recent philosophical arguments have exerted such a pull on the popular imagination, or have produced such strong reactions. People from a wide range of fields have expressed their views on the argument. The argument has appeared in Scientific American, television shows, newspapers, and popular science books. Preston and Bishop’s recent volume of essays reflects this interdisciplinary atmosphere. The volume includes essays (...)
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  17. Mark Sprevak (2005). The Frame Problem and the Treatment of Prediction. In L. Magnani & R. Dossena (eds.), Computing, Philosophy and Cognition. 4--349.
    The frame problem is a problem in artificial intelligence that a number of philosophers have claimed has philosophical relevance. The structure of this paper is as follows: (1) An account of the frame problem is given; (2) The frame problem is distinguished from related problems; (3) The main strategies for dealing with the frame problem are outlined; (4) A difference between commonsense reasoning and prediction using a scientific theory is argued for; (5) Some implications for the..
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  18. Mark Sprevak & Christina McLeish (2004). Magic, Semantics, and Putnam's Vat Brains. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C 35 (2):227-236.
    In this paper we offer an exegesis of Hilary Putnam’s classic argument against the brain-in-avat hypothesis offered in his Reason, truth and history (1981). In it, Putnam argues that we cannot be brains in a vat because the semantics of the situation make it incoherent for anyone to wonder whether they are a brain a vat. Putnam’s argument is that in order for ‘I am a brain in a vat’ to be true, the person uttering it would have to be (...)
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  19. Mark Sprevak, Review of Representation Reconsidered. [REVIEW]
    William Ramsey’s Representation Reconsidered is a superb, insightful analysis of the notion of mental representation in cognitive science. The book presents an original argument for a bold conclusion: partial eliminativism about mental representation in scientific psychology. According to Ramsey, once we examine the conditions that need to be satisfied for something to qualify as a representation, we can see those conditions are not fulfilled by the ‘representations’ posited by much of modern psychology. Cognitive science—or at least large swathes of it—has (...)
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