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  1. Is Free-Energy Minimisation the Mark of the Cognitive?Matt Sims & Julian Kiverstein - 2021 - Biology and Philosophy 36 (2):1-27.
    A mark of the cognitive should allow us to specify theoretical principles for demarcating cognitive from non-cognitive causes of behaviour in organisms. Specific criteria are required to settle the question of when in the evolution of life cognition first emerged. An answer to this question should however avoid two pitfalls. It should avoid overintellectualising the minds of other organisms, ascribing to them cognitive capacities for which they have no need given the lives they lead within the niches they inhabit. But (...)
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  • The Math is Not the Territory: Navigating the Free Energy Principle.Mel Andrews - 2021 - Biology and Philosophy 36 (3):1-19.
    Much has been written about the free energy principle, and much misunderstood. The principle has traditionally been put forth as a theory of brain function or biological self-organisation. Critiques of the framework have focused on its lack of empirical support and a failure to generate concrete, falsifiable predictions. I take both positive and negative evaluations of the FEP thus far to have been largely in error, and appeal to a robust literature on scientific modelling to rectify the situation. A prominent (...)
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  • Unification by Fiat: Arrested Development of Predictive Processing.Piotr Litwin & Marcin Miłkowski - 2020 - Cognitive Science 44 (7).
    Predictive processing (PP) has been repeatedly presented as a unificatory account of perception, action, and cognition. In this paper, we argue that this is premature: As a unifying theory, PP fails to deliver general, simple, homogeneous, and systematic explanations. By examining its current trajectory of development, we conclude that PP remains only loosely connected both to its computational framework and to its hypothetical biological underpinnings, which makes its fundamentals unclear. Instead of offering explanations that refer to the same set of (...)
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  • Examining the Continuity Between Life and Mind: Is There a Continuity Between Autopoietic Intentionality and Representationality?Wanja Wiese & Karl J. Friston - 2021 - Philosophies 6 (18):18.
    A weak version of life-mind continuity thesis entails that every living system also has a basic mind. The strong version entails that the same concepts that are sufficient to explain basic minds are also central to understanding non-basic minds. We argue that recent work on the free energy principle supports the following claims with respect to the life-mind continuity thesis: there is a strong continuity between life and mind; all living systems can be described as if they had representational states; (...)
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  • Just How Conservative is Conservative Predictive Processing?Paweł Gładziejewski - 2017 - Hybris. Internetowy Magazyn Filozoficzny 38:98-122.
    Predictive Processing (PP) framework construes perception and action (and perhaps other cognitive phenomena) as a matter of minimizing prediction error, i.e. the mismatch between the sensory input and sensory predictions generated by a hierarchically organized statistical model. There is a question of how PP fits into the debate between traditional, neurocentric and representation-heavy approaches in cognitive science and those approaches that see cognition as embodied, environmentally embedded, extended and (largely) representation-free. In the present paper, I aim to investigate and clarify (...)
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  • Modelling ourselves: what the free energy principle reveals about our implicit notions of representation.Matt Sims & Giovanni Pezzulo - forthcoming - Synthese:1-33.
    Predictive processing theories are increasingly popular in philosophy of mind; such process theories often gain support from the Free Energy Principle —a normative principle for adaptive self-organized systems. Yet there is a current and much discussed debate about conflicting philosophical interpretations of FEP, e.g., representational versus non-representational. Here we argue that these different interpretations depend on implicit assumptions about what qualifies as representational. We deploy the Free Energy Principle instrumentally to distinguish four main notions of representation, which focus on organizational, (...)
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  • Are Generative Models Structural Representations?Marco Facchin - forthcoming - Minds and Machines:1-27.
    Philosophers interested in the theoretical consequences of predictive processing often assume that predictive processing is an inferentialist and representationalist theory of cognition. More specifically, they assume that predictive processing revolves around approximated Bayesian inferences drawn by inverting a generative model. Generative models, in turn, are said to be structural representations: representational vehicles that represent their targets by being structurally similar to them. Here, I challenge this assumption, claiming that, at present, it lacks an adequate justification. I examine the only argument (...)
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  • New Directions in Predictive Processing.Jakob Hohwy - 2020 - Mind and Language 35 (2):209-223.
    Predictive processing (PP) is now a prominent theoretical framework in the philosophy of mind and cognitive science. This review focuses on PP research with a relatively philosophical focus, taking stock of the framework and discussing new directions. The review contains an introduction that describes the full PP toolbox; an exploration of areas where PP has advanced understanding of perceptual and cognitive phenomena; a discussion of PP's impact on foundational issues in cognitive science; and a consideration of the philosophy of science (...)
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  • Multiscale Integration: Beyond Internalism and Externalism.Maxwell J. D. Ramstead, Michael D. Kirchhoff, Axel Constant & Karl J. Friston - 2019 - Synthese 198 (Suppl 1):41-70.
    We present a multiscale integrationist interpretation of the boundaries of cognitive systems, using the Markov blanket formalism of the variational free energy principle. This interpretation is intended as a corrective for the philosophical debate over internalist and externalist interpretations of cognitive boundaries; we stake out a compromise position. We first survey key principles of new radical views of cognition. We then describe an internalist interpretation premised on the Markov blanket formalism. Having reviewed these accounts, we develop our positive multiscale account. (...)
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  • Similarity-Based Cognition: Radical Enactivism Meets Cognitive Neuroscience.Miguel Segundo-Ortin & Daniel D. Hutto - 2019 - Synthese 198 (Suppl 1):5-23.
    Similarity-based cognition is commonplace. It occurs whenever an agent or system exploits the similarities that hold between two or more items—e.g., events, processes, objects, and so on—in order to perform some cognitive task. This kind of cognition is of special interest to cognitive neuroscientists. This paper explicates how similarity-based cognition can be understood through the lens of radical enactivism and why doing so has advantages over its representationalist rival, which posits the existence of structural representations or S-representations. Specifically, it is (...)
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  • Representation Wars: Enacting an Armistice Through Active Inference.Axel Constant, Andy Clark & Karl J. Friston - 2021 - Frontiers in Psychology 11.
    Over the last 30 years, representationalist and dynamicist positions in the philosophy of cognitive science have argued over whether neurocognitive processes should be viewed as representational or not. Major scientific and technological developments over the years have furnished both parties with ever more sophisticated conceptual weaponry. In recent years, an enactive generalization of predictive processing – known as active inference – has been proposed as a unifying theory of brain functions. Since then, active inference has fueled both representationalist and dynamicist (...)
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  • Neural Synchrony and the Causal Efficacy of Consciousness.David Yates - 2020 - Topoi 39 (5):1057-1072.
    The purpose of this paper is to address a well-known dilemma for physicalism. If mental properties are type identical to physical properties, then their causal efficacy is secure, but at the cost of ruling out mentality in creatures very different to ourselves. On the other hand, if mental properties are multiply realizable, then all kinds of creatures can instantiate them, but then they seem to be causally redundant. The causal exclusion problem depends on the widely held principle that realized properties (...)
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  • A Match Made in Heaven: Predictive Approaches to (an Unorthodox) Sensorimotor Enactivism.María Jimena Clavel Vázquez - 2020 - Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 19 (4):653-684.
    It has been pointed out that Sensorimotor Enactivism, a theory that claims that perception is enacted and brought about by movement, says very little about the neural mechanisms that enable perception. For the proponents of the predictive approach to Sensorimotor Enactivism, this is a challenge that can be met by introducing predictive processing into the picture. However, the compatibility between these theories is not straightforward. Firstly, because they seem to differ in their stand towards representations: while Sensorimotor Enactivism is said (...)
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  • A match made in heaven: predictive approaches to (an unorthodox) sensorimotor enactivism.María Jimena Clavel Vázquez - 2020 - Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 19 (4):653-684.
    It has been pointed out that Sensorimotor Enactivism, a theory that claims that perception is enacted and brought about by movement, says very little about the neural mechanisms that enable perception. For the proponents of the predictive approach to Sensorimotor Enactivism, this is a challenge that can be met by introducing predictive processing into the picture. However, the compatibility between these theories is not straightforward. Firstly, because they seem to differ in their stand towards representations: while Sensorimotor Enactivism is said (...)
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  • Epistemic Irrationality in the Bayesian Brain.Daniel Williams - forthcoming - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science:000-000.
    A large body of research in cognitive psychology and neuroscience draws on Bayesian statistics to model information processing within the brain. Many theorists have noted that this research seems to be in tension with a large body of experimental results purportedly documenting systematic deviations from Bayesian updating in human belief formation. In response, proponents of the Bayesian brain hypothesis contend that Bayesian models can accommodate such results by making suitable assumptions about model parameters. To make progress in this debate, I (...)
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  • Shannon + Friston = Content: Intentionality in Predictive Signaling Systems.Carrie Figdor - forthcoming - Synthese:1-24.
    What is the content of a mental state? This question poses the problem of intentionality: to explain how mental states can be about other things, where being about them is understood as representing them. A framework that integrates predictive coding and signaling systems theories of cognitive processing offers a new perspective on intentionality. On this view, at least some mental states are evaluations, which differ in function, operation, and normativity from representations. A complete naturalistic theory of intentionality must account for (...)
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  • In Defense of Picturing; Sellars’s Philosophy of Mind and Cognitive Neuroscience.Carl B. Sachs - 2019 - Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 18 (4):669-689.
    I argue that Sellars’s distinction between signifying and picturing should be taken seriously by philosophers of mind, language, and cognition. I begin with interpretations of key Sellarsian texts in order to show that picturing is best understood as a theory of non-linguistic cognitive representations through which animals navigate their environments. This is distinct from the kind of discursive cognition that Sellars called ‘signifying’ and which is best understood in terms of socio-linguistic inferences. I argue that picturing is required because reflection (...)
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  • Bringing Forth Within: Enhabiting at the Intersection Between Enaction and Ecological Psychology.Mark M. James - 2020 - Frontiers in Psychology 11.
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  • Predictive Minds and Small-Scale Models: Kenneth Craik’s Contribution to Cognitive Science.Daniel Williams - 2018 - Philosophical Explorations 21 (2):245-263.
    I identify three lessons from Kenneth Craik’s landmark book “The Nature of Explanation” for contemporary debates surrounding the existence, extent, and nature of mental representation: first, an account of mental representations as neural structures that function analogously to public models; second, an appreciation of prediction as the central component of intelligence in demand of such models; and third, a metaphor for understanding the brain as an engineer, not a scientist. I then relate these insights to discussions surrounding the representational status (...)
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  • Neural Representations Observed.Eric Thomson & Gualtiero Piccinini - 2018 - Minds and Machines 28 (1):191-235.
    The historical debate on representation in cognitive science and neuroscience construes representations as theoretical posits and discusses the degree to which we have reason to posit them. We reject the premise of that debate. We argue that experimental neuroscientists routinely observe and manipulate neural representations in their laboratory. Therefore, neural representations are as real as neurons, action potentials, or any other well-established entities in our ontology.
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  • Pragmatism and the Predictive Mind.Daniel Williams - 2018 - Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 17 (5):835-859.
    Predictive processing and its apparent commitment to explaining cognition in terms of Bayesian inference over hierarchical generative models seems to flatly contradict the pragmatist conception of mind and experience. Against this, I argue that this appearance results from philosophical overlays at odd with the science itself, and that the two frameworks are in fact well-poised for mutually beneficial theoretical exchange. Specifically, I argue: first, that predictive processing illuminates pragmatism’s commitment to both the primacy of pragmatic coping in accounts of the (...)
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  • Free Energy and the Self: An Ecological–Enactive Interpretation.Julian Kiverstein - 2020 - Topoi 39 (3):559-574.
    According to the free energy principle all living systems aim to minimise free energy in their sensory exchanges with the environment. Processes of free energy minimisation are thus ubiquitous in the biological world. Indeed it has been argued that even plants engage in free energy minimisation. Not all living things however feel alive. How then did the feeling of being alive get started? In line with the arguments of the phenomenologists, I will claim that every feeling must be felt by (...)
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  • Predictive Coding and Thought.Daniel Williams - 2020 - Synthese 197 (4):1749-1775.
    Predictive processing has recently been advanced as a global cognitive architecture for the brain. I argue that its commitments concerning the nature and format of cognitive representation are inadequate to account for two basic characteristics of conceptual thought: first, its generality—the fact that we can think and flexibly reason about phenomena at any level of spatial and temporal scale and abstraction; second, its rich compositionality—the specific way in which concepts productively combine to yield our thoughts. I consider two strategies for (...)
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  • Introduction.Krzysztof Dołęga, Luke Roelofs & Tobias Schlicht - 2018 - Philosophical Explorations 21 (2):179-186.
    The papers in this special issue make important contributions to a longstanding debate about how we should conceive of and explain mental phenomena. In other words, they make a case about the best philosophical paradigm for cognitive science. The two main competing approaches, hotly debated for several decades, are representationalism and enactivism. However, recent developments in disciplines such as machine learning and computational neuroscience have fostered a proliferation of intermediate approaches, leading to the emergence of completely new positions, in particular (...)
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  • Hierarchical Minds and the Perception/Cognition Distinction.Daniel Williams - forthcoming - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy:1-23.
    ABSTRACTRecent research in cognitive and computational neuroscience portrays the neocortex as a hierarchically structured prediction machine. Several theorists have drawn on this research to challe...
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  • From Symbols to Icons: The Return of Resemblance in the Cognitive Neuroscience Revolution.Daniel Williams & Lincoln Colling - 2018 - Synthese 195 (5):1941-1967.
    We argue that one important aspect of the “cognitive neuroscience revolution” identified by Boone and Piccinini :1509–1534. doi: 10.1007/s11229-015-0783-4, 2015) is a dramatic shift away from thinking of cognitive representations as arbitrary symbols towards thinking of them as icons that replicate structural characteristics of their targets. We argue that this shift has been driven both “from below” and “from above”—that is, from a greater appreciation of what mechanistic explanation of information-processing systems involves, and from a greater appreciation of the problems (...)
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