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Reality and Representation

Noûs 26 (3):379-389 (1987)

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  1. Causal Theories of Mental Content: Where is the "Causal Element" and How Does It Make Intentionality Relational?Mindaugas Gilaitis - 2015 - Problemos 87:19-30.
    This paper has two interrelated aims. The primary aim is to specify the character of philosophical theories of mental content that are usually classified as ‘Causal Theories of Intentionality’, ‘Causal Theories of Representation’, or ‘Causal Theories of Mental Content’ (CTs). More specifically, the aim is to characterize the role and place of causation in philosophical reflections on the nature of mental content, as suggested by theories of this kind. Elucidation of the role of the concept of causation in CTs requires (...)
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  • In What Sense Does ‘Nothing Make Sense Except in the Light of Evolution’?Paul Edmund Griffiths - 2009 - Acta Biotheoretica 57 (1-2):11-32.
    Dobzhansky argued that biology only makes sense if life on earth has a shared history. But his dictum is often reinterpreted to mean that biology only makes sense in the light of adaptation. Some philosophers of science have argued in this spirit that all work in ‘proximal’ biosciences such as anatomy, physiology and molecular biology must be framed, at least implicitly, by the selection histories of the organisms under study. Others have denied this and have proposed non-evolutionary ways in which (...)
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  • Re-Organizing Organizational Accounts of Function.Marc Artiga - 2011 - Applied Ontology 6 (2):105-124.
    In this paper I discuss a recent theory on functions called Organizational Account. This theory seeks to provide a new definition of function that overcomes the distinction between etiological and dispositional accounts and that could be used in biology as well as in technology. I present a definition of function that I think captures the intuitions of Organizational Accounts and consider several objections.
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  • New Perspectives on Artifactual and Biological Functions.Marc Artiga - 2016 - Applied Ontology 11 (2):89-102.
    In this essay I introduce the question of artifactual functions in the context of the recent debate on the notion of function. I discuss some of the desiderata a satisfactory account should fulfill and compare them to the desiderata for a theory of biological functions. Finally, within this general framework, I briefly present the three papers included in this volume.
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  • Constructivism for Philosophers (Be It a Remark on Realism).Ofer Gal - 2002 - Perspectives on Science 10 (4):523-549.
    : Bereft of the illusion of an epistemic vantage point external to science, what should be our commitment towards the categories, concepts and terms of that very science? Should we, despaired of the possibility to found these concepts on rock bottom, adopt empiricist skepticism? Or perhaps the inexistence of external foundations implies, rather, immunity for scientific ontology from epistemological criticism? Philosophy's "realism debate" died out without providing a satisfactory answer to the dilemma, which was taken over by the neighboring disciplines. (...)
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  • Function, Selection, and Construction in the Brain.Justin Garson - 2012 - Synthese 189 (3):451-481.
    A common misunderstanding of the selected effects theory of function is that natural selection operating over an evolutionary time scale is the only functionbestowing process in the natural world. This construal of the selected effects theory conflicts with the existence and ubiquity of neurobiological functions that are evolutionary novel, such as structures underlying reading ability. This conflict has suggested to some that, while the selected effects theory may be relevant to some areas of evolutionary biology, its relevance to neuroscience is (...)
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  • Teleosemantics Without Natural Selection.Marshall Abrams - 2005 - Biology and Philosophy 20 (1):97-116.
    Ruth Millikan and others advocate theories which attempt to naturalize wide mental content (e.g. beliefs.
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  • The Growth of Signs.Winfried Nöth - 2014 - Sign Systems Studies 42 (2/3):172-192.
    The paper discusses the theory of semiosis in the context of Peirce’s philosophy of evolution. Focussing on the thesis that symbols grow by incorporating indices and icons, it proposes answers to the following questions: What does Peirce mean by the “self-development of signs” in nature and culture and by symbols as living things? How do signs grow? Do all signs grow, or do only symbols grow? Does the growth of signs presuppose semiotic agency, and if so, who are the agents (...)
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  • The Philosophy of Psychology.Kelby Mason, Chandra Sekhar Sripada & Stephen Stich - 2008 - In Dermot Moran (ed.), The Routledge Companion to Twentieth-Century Philosophy. Routledge.
    The 20 sup > th /sup > century has been a tumultuous time in psychology -- a century in which the discipline struggled with basic questions about its intellectual identity, but nonetheless managed to achieve spectacular growth and maturation. It’s not surprising, then, that psychology has attracted sustained philosophical attention and stimulated rich philosophical debate. Some of this debate was aimed at understanding, and sometimes criticizing, the assumptions, concepts and explanatory strategies prevailing in the psychology of the time. But much (...)
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  • Suffering Without Subjectivity.Peter Carruthers - 2004 - Philosophical Studies 121 (2):99-125.
    This paper argues that it is possible for suffering to occur in the absence of phenomenal consciousness – in the absence of a certain sort of experiential subjectivity, that is. (Phenomenal consciousness is the property that some mental states possess, when it is like something to undergo them, or when they have subjective feels, or possess qualia.) So even if theories of phenomenal consciousness that would withhold such consciousness from most species of non-human animal are correct, this neednt mean that (...)
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  • Learning and Selection Processes.Marc Artiga - 2010 - Theoria : An International Journal for Theory, History and Fundations of Science 25 (2):197-209.
    In this paper I defend a teleological explanation of normativity, i. e., I argue that what an organism is supposed to do is determined by its etiological function. In particular, I present a teleological account of the normativity that arises in learning processes, and I defend it from some objections.
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  • Teleosemantic Modeling of Cognitive Representations.Marc Artiga - 2016 - Biology and Philosophy 31 (4):483-505.
    Naturalistic theories of representation seek to specify the conditions that must be met for an entity to represent another entity. Although these approaches have been relatively successful in certain areas, such as communication theory or genetics, many doubt that they can be employed to naturalize complex cognitive representations. In this essay I identify some of the difficulties for developing a teleosemantic theory of cognitive representations and provide a strategy for accommodating them: to look into models of signaling in evolutionary game (...)
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  • Teleosemantics, Selection and Novel Contents.Justin Garson & David Papineau - 2019 - Biology and Philosophy 34 (3):36.
    Mainstream teleosemantics is the view that mental representation should be understood in terms of biological functions, which, in turn, should be understood in terms of selection processes. One of the traditional criticisms of teleosemantics is the problem of novel contents: how can teleosemantics explain our ability to represent properties that are evolutionarily novel? In response, some have argued that by generalizing the notion of a selection process to include phenomena such as operant conditioning, and the neural selection that underlies it, (...)
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  • The Five Marks of the Mental.Tuomas K. Pernu - 2017 - Frontiers in Psychology 8.
    The mental realm seems different to the physical realm; the mental is thought to be dependent on, yet distinct from the physical. But how, exactly, are the two realms supposed to be different, and what, exactly, creates the seemingly insurmountable juxtaposition between the mental and the physical? This review identifies and discusses five marks of the mental, features that set characteristically mental phenomena apart from the characteristically physical phenomena. These five marks (intentionality, consciousness, free will, teleology, and normativity) are not (...)
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  • Ahistorical Teleosemantics: An Alternative to Nanay.Mark Bauer - 2017 - Southern Journal of Philosophy 55 (2):158-176.
    The dominant view in teleosemantics is that semantic functions are historically determined. That reliance on history has been subject to repeated criticism. To sidestep such criticisms, Nanay has recently offered an ahistorical alternative that swaps out historical properties for modal properties. Nanay's ahistorical modal alternative suffers, I think, serious problems of its own. I suggest here another ahistorical alternative for teleosemantics. The motivation for both the historical view and Nanay's is to provide a naturalistic basis to characterize some item as (...)
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  • Naturalising Representational Content.Nicholas Shea - 2013 - Philosophy Compass 8 (5):496-509.
    This paper sets out a view about the explanatory role of representational content and advocates one approach to naturalising content – to giving a naturalistic account of what makes an entity a representation and in virtue of what it has the content it does. It argues for pluralism about the metaphysics of content and suggests that a good strategy is to ask the content question with respect to a variety of predictively successful information processing models in experimental psychology and cognitive (...)
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  • Consumers Need Information: Supplementing Teleosemantics with an Input Condition.Nicholas Shea - 2007 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 75 (2):404-435.
    The success of a piece of behaviour is often explained by its being caused by a true representation (similarly, failure falsity). In some simple organisms, success is just survival and reproduction. Scientists explain why a piece of behaviour helped the organism to survive and reproduce by adverting to the behaviour’s having been caused by a true representation. That usage should, if possible, be vindicated by an adequate naturalistic theory of content. Teleosemantics cannot do so, when it is applied to simple (...)
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  • Subjekt Und Selbstmodell. Die Perspektivität Phänomenalen Bewußtseins Vor Dem Hintergrund Einer Naturalistischen Theorie Mentaler Repräsentation.Thomas K. Metzinger - 1999 - In 自我隧道 自我的新哲学 从神经科学到意识伦理学.
    This book contains a representationalist theory of self-consciousness and of the phenomenal first-person perspective. It draws on empirical data from the cognitive and neurosciences.
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  • Language of Thought Hypothesis: State of the Art.Murat Aydede - manuscript
    [This is an earlier, much longer and more detailed version of my entry on LOTH in the _Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy_] The Language of Thought Hypothesis (LOTH) is an empirical thesis about thought and thinking. For their explication, it postulates a physically realized system of representations that have a combinatorial syntax (and semantics) such that operations on representations are causally sensitive only to the syntactic properties of representations. According to LOTH, thought is, roughly, the tokening of a representation that has (...)
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  • Evolution, Dysfunction, and Disease: A Reappraisal.Paul E. Griffiths & John Matthewson - 2016 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 69 (2):301-327.
    Some ‘naturalist’ accounts of disease employ a biostatistical account of dysfunction, whilst others use a ‘selected effect’ account. Several recent authors have argued that the biostatistical account offers the best hope for a naturalist account of disease. We show that the selected effect account survives the criticisms levelled by these authors relatively unscathed, and has significant advantages over the BST. Moreover, unlike the BST, it has a strong theoretical rationale and can provide substantive reasons to decide difficult cases. This is (...)
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  • Mindreading, representación, inferencia y argumentación.Cristián Santibáñez Yáñez - 2015 - Co-herencia 12 (23):171-204.
    Este artículo tiene por objetivo aportar en la explicación de la función que cumplen las subcompetencias cognitivas mindreading y la representación mental en la actividad inferencial y el comportamiento argumentativo. El texto discute varias explicaciones alternativas existente en la literatura filosófica y cognitiva, decantándose por una perspectiva evolutiva cultural que pone el acento en el diseño colectivista. Para este efecto, se aborda el cambio evolutivo de la plasticidad cerebro-mente, se discute el alcance de la hipótesis de la inteligencia social y (...)
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  • How to Think About Mental Content.Frances Egan - 2013 - Philosophical Studies 170 (1):115-135.
    Introduction: representationalismMost theorists of cognition endorse some version of representationalism, which I will understand as the view that the human mind is an information-using system, and that human cognitive capacities are representational capacities. Of course, notions such as ‘representation’ and ‘information-using’ are terms of art that require explication. As a first pass, representations are “mediating states of an intelligent system that carry information” (Markman and Dietrich 2001, p. 471). They have two important features: (1) they are physically realized, and so (...)
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  • In Defence of Narrow Mindedness.Frances Egan - 1999 - Mind and Language 14 (2):177-94.
    Externalism about the mind holds that the explanation of our representational capacities requires appeal to mental states that are individuated by reference to features of the environment. Externalists claim that ‘narrow’ taxonomies cannot account for important features of psychological explanation. I argue that this claim is false, and offer a general argument for preferring narrow taxonomies in psychology.
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  • Evolution, Dysfunction, and Disease: A Reappraisal: Table 1.Paul E. Griffiths & John Matthewson - 2016 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science:axw021.
  • Molecular and Developmental Biology.Paul Edmund Griffiths - 2002 - In Peter Machamer & Michael Silberstein (eds.), The Blackwell Guide to the Philosophy of Science. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishers. pp. 252-271.
    Philosophical discussion of molecular and developmental biology began in the late 1960s with the use of genetics as a test case for models of theory reduction. With this exception, the theory of natural selection remained the main focus of philosophy of biology until the late 1970s. It was controversies in evolutionary theory over punctuated equilibrium and adaptationism that first led philosophers to examine the concept of developmental constraint. Developmental biology also gained in prominence in the 1980s as part of a (...)
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  • Pragmatic Experimental Philosophy.Justin C. Fisher - 2015 - Philosophical Psychology 28 (3):412-433.
    This paper considers three package deals combining views in philosophy of mind, meta-philosophy, and experimental philosophy. The most familiar of these packages gives center-stage to pumping intuitions about fanciful cases, but that package involves problematic commitments both to a controversial descriptivist theory of reference and to intuitions that “negative” experimental philosophers have shown to be suspiciously variable and context-sensitive. In light of these difficulties, it would be good for future-minded experimental philosophers to align themselves with a different package deal. This (...)
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  • A Generalized Selected Effects Theory of Function.Justin Garson - 2017 - Philosophy of Science 84 (3):523-543.
    I present and defend the generalized selected effects theory (GSE) of function. According to GSE, the function of a trait consists in the activity that contributed to its bearer’s differential reproduction, or differential retention, within a population. Unlike the traditional selected effects (SE) theory, it does not require that the functional trait helped its bearer reproduce; differential retention is enough. Although the core theory has been presented previously, I go significantly beyond those presentations by providing a new argument for GSE (...)
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  • Enciclopédia de Termos Lógico-Filosóficos.João Branquinho, Desidério Murcho & Nelson Gonçalves Gomes (eds.) - 2006 - São Paulo, SP, Brasil: Martins Fontes.
    Esta enciclopédia abrange, de uma forma introdutória mas desejavelmente rigorosa, uma diversidade de conceitos, temas, problemas, argumentos e teorias localizados numa área relativamente recente de estudos, os quais tem sido habitual qualificar como «estudos lógico-filosóficos». De uma forma apropriadamente genérica, e apesar de o território teórico abrangido ser extenso e de contornos por vezes difusos, podemos dizer que na área se investiga um conjunto de questões fundamentais acerca da natureza da linguagem, da mente, da cognição e do raciocínio humanos, bem (...)
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  • Real Knowledge. The Problem of Content in Neural Epistemics.J. J. M. Sleutels - unknown
  • La Naturalizzazione Dell'epistemologia. Contro Una Soluzione Quineana.Nicla Vassallo - 1997 - Franco Angeli.
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  • Why Tracking Theories Should Allow for Clean Cases of Reliable Misrepresentation.Angela Mendelovici - 2016 - Disputatio 8 (42):57-92.
    Reliable misrepresentation is getting things wrong in the same way all the time. In Mendelovici 2013, I argue that tracking theories of mental representation cannot allow for certain kinds of reliable misrepresentation, and that this is a problem for those views. Artiga 2013 defends teleosemantics from this argument. He agrees with Mendelovici 2013 that teleosemantics cannot account for clean cases of reliable misrepresentation, but argues that this is not a problem for the views. This paper clarifies and improves the argument (...)
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  • On Natural Selection and Hume's Second Problem.Armando Aranda-Anzaldo - 1998 - Evolution and Cognition 4 (2):156-172.
    David Hume's famous riddle of induction implies a second problem related to the question of whether the laws and principles of nature might change in the course of time. Claims have been made that modern developments in physics and astrophysics corroborate the translational invariance of the laws of physics in time. However, the appearance of a new general principle of nature, which might not be derivable from the known laws of physics, or that might actually be a non-physical one (this (...)
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  • Schizophrenia and the Dysfunctional Brain.Justin Garson - 2010 - Journal of Cognitive Science 11:215-246.
    Scientists, philosophers, and even the lay public commonly accept that schizophrenia stems from a biological or internal ‘dysfunction.’ However, this assessment is typically accompanied neither by well-defined criteria for determining that something is dysfunctional nor empirical evidence that schizophrenia satisfies those criteria. In the following, a concept of biological function is developed and applied to a neurobiological model of schizophrenia. It concludes that current evidence does not warrant the claim that schizophrenia stems from a biological dysfunction, and, in fact, that (...)
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  • Environments of Intelligence. From Natural Information to Artficial Interaction.Hajo Greif - 2017 - London: Routledge.
    What is the role of the environment, and of the information it provides, in cognition? More specifically, may there be a role for certain artefacts to play in this context? These are questions that motivate "4E" theories of cognition (as being embodied, embedded, extended, enactive). In his take on that family of views, Hajo Greif first defends and refines a concept of information as primarily natural, environmentally embedded in character, which had been eclipsed by information-processing views of cognition. He continues (...)
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  • The Passions of the Soul and Descartes’s Machine Psychology.Gary Hatfield - 2007 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 38 (1):1-35.
    Descartes developed an elaborate theory of animal physiology that he used to explain functionally organized, situationally adapted behavior in both human and nonhuman animals. Although he restricted true mentality to the human soul, I argue that he developed a purely mechanistic (or material) ‘psychology’ of sensory, motor, and low-level cognitive functions. In effect, he sought to mechanize the offices of the Aristotelian sensitive soul. He described the basic mechanisms in the Treatise on man, which he summarized in the Discourse. However, (...)
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  • Representation Without Thought: Confusion, Reference, and Communication.Elmar Unnsteinsson - 2015 - Dissertation, CUNY Graduate Center
    I develop and argue for a novel theory of the mental state of identity confusion. I also argue that this mental state can corrupt the proper function of singular terms in linguistic communication. Finally, I propose a theory according to which identity confusion should be treated as a the source of a new sort of linguistic performance error, similar to malapropism, slips of the tongue, and so-called intentional obfuscation (inducing false belief by manipulating language in specific ways). -/- Going into (...)
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  • Representation in Cognitive Science.Nicholas Shea - 2018 - Oxford University Press.
    How can we think about things in the outside world? There is still no widely accepted theory of how mental representations get their meaning. In light of pioneering research, Nicholas Shea develops a naturalistic account of the nature of mental representation with a firm focus on the subpersonal representations that pervade the cognitive sciences.
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  • Reward Prediction Error Signals Are Meta‐Representational.Nicholas Shea - 2014 - Noûs 48 (2):314-341.
    1. Introduction 2. Reward-Guided Decision Making 3. Content in the Model 4. How to Deflate a Metarepresentational Reading Proust and Carruthers on metacognitive feelings 5. A Deflationary Treatment of RPEs? 5.1 Dispensing with prediction errors 5.2 What is use of the RPE focused on? 5.3 Alternative explanations—worldly correlates 5.4 Contrast cases 6. Conclusion Appendix: Temporal Difference Learning Algorithms.
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  • Three Views of Language & the Mind.Submitted May - unknown
    The essay which follows is about the relationship between mind and language. Most recent thought about intentionality has it that (i) mental states of individuals are largely, or in the most fundamental cases, independent of social facts about public languages, and (ii) these social facts are derived from, or constituted by, the mental states of individuals. The purpose of this essay is to challenge this individualist orthodoxy (as well as the view of the relationship between mind and action which often (...)
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  • How to Argue Against (Some) Theories of Content.Michael V. Antony - 2006 - Iyyun 55 (July):265-286.
    An argument is offered against three naturalistic theories of intentional content: causal-covariation theories, teleological theories, and certain versions of conceptual role semantics. The strategy involves focusing on a normative problem regarding the practice of associating content expressions (e.g., that-clauses) with internal entities (states, symbol structures, etc.). The problem can be expressed thus: Which content expressions are the right ones to associate with internal entities? I argue, first, that an empirical solution to this problem—what I call the Normative Problem—will follow naturally (...)
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  • Are Genetic Representations Read in Development?Ronald J. Planer - 2016 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 67 (4):997-1023.
    The status of genes as bearers of semantic content remains very much in dispute among philosophers of biology. In a series of papers, Nicholas Shea has argued that his ‘infotel’ theory of semantics vindicates the claim that genes carry semantic content. On Shea’s account, each organism is associated with a ‘developmental system’ that takes genetic representations as inputs and produces whole-organism traits as outputs. Moreover, at least in his most recent work on the topic, Shea is explicit in claiming that (...)
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  • Observation and Objectivity.Paul K. Moser - 1988 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 39 (4):551-561.
  • Naturalistic Epistemologies and Normativity.Elisabeth Pacherie - 2002 - Croatian Journal of Philosophy 2 (3):299-317.
    The main aim of this paper is to investigate what becomes of normativity in naturalistic epistemologies. What particular stand a given naturalistic epistemology takes on normativity will depend both on what it thinks is wrong with traditional epistemology and on what level of normativity is at stake. I propose a tentative typology of possible attitudes towards normativity from within naturalistic epistemology. In section I, I give a brief presentation of traditional epistemology, stressing the dimensions of this approach that may appear (...)
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  • Purpose and Content.J. T. Whyte - 1993 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 44 (1):45-60.
  • Inherited Representations Are Read in Development.Nicholas Shea - 2013 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 64 (1):1-31.
    Recent theoretical work has identified a tightly-constrained sense in which genes carry representational content. Representational properties of the genome are founded in the transmission of DNA over phylogenetic time and its role in natural selection. However, genetic representation is not just relevant to questions of selection and evolution. This paper goes beyond existing treatments and argues for the heterodox view that information generated by a process of selection over phylogenetic time can be read in ontogenetic time, in the course of (...)
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  • Biological Function, Selection, and Reduction.Richard N. Manning - 1997 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 48 (1):69-82.
    It is widely assumed that selection history accounts of function can support a fully reductive naturalization of functional properties. I argue that this assumption is false. A problem with the alternative causal role account of function in this context is that it invokes the teleological notion of a goal in analysing real function. The selection history account, if it is to have reductive status, must not do the same. But attention to certain cases of selection history in biology, specifically those (...)
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  • Intentionality and Naturalism.Stephen P. Stich & Stephen Laurence - 1994 - Midwest Studies in Philosophy 19 (1):159-82.
    ...the deepest motivation for intentional irrealism derives not from such relatively technical worries about individualism and holism as we.
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  • The Natural History of Desire.David Spurrett - 2015 - South African Journal of Philosophy 34 (3):304-313.
    Sterelny (2003) develops an idealised natural history of folk-psychological kinds. He argues that belief-like states are natural elaborations of simpler control systems, called detection systems, which map directly from environmental cue to response. Belief-like states exhibit robust tracking (sensitivity to multiple environmental states), and response breadth (occasioning a wider range of behaviours). The development of robust tracking and response-breadth depend partly on properties of the informational environment. In a transparent environment the functional relevance of states of the world is directly (...)
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  • Function and Modality.Osamu Kiritani - 2011 - Journal of Mind and Behavior 32 (1):1-4.
    Naturalistic teleological accounts of mental content rely on an etiological theory of function. Nanay has raised a new objection to an etiological theory, and proposed an alternative theory of function that attributes modal force to claims about function. The aim of this paper is both to defend and to cast a new light on an etiological theory of function. I argue against Nanay’s “trait type individuation objection,” suggesting that an etiological theory also attributes modal force to claims about function. An (...)
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  • A New, Better BET: Rescuing and Revising Basic Emotion Theory.Michael David Kirchhoff, Daniel D. Hutto & Ian Robertson - 2018 - Frontiers in Psychology 9:1-12.
    Basic Emotion Theory, or BET, has dominated the affective sciences for decades (Ekman, 1972, 1992, 1999; Ekman and Davidson, 1994; Griffiths, 2013; Scarantino and Griffiths, 2011). It has been highly influential, driving a number of empirical lines of research (e.g., in the context of facial expression detection, neuroimaging studies and evolutionary psychology). Nevertheless, BET has been criticized by philosophers, leading to calls for it to be jettisoned entirely (Colombetti, 2014; Hufendiek, 2016). This paper defuses those criticisms. In addition, it shows (...)
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