Open Philosophy 2 (1):503-524 (2019)

The relationship between philosophy and research on artificial intelligence has been difficult since its beginning, with mutual misunderstanding and sometimes even hostility. By contrast, we show how an approach informed by both philosophy and AI can be productive. After reviewing some popular frameworks for computation and learning, we apply the AI methodology of “build it and see” to tackle the philosophical and psychological problem of characterizing perception as distinct from sensation. Our model comprises a network of very simple, but interacting agents which have binary experiences of the “yes/no”-type and communicate their experiences with each other. When does such a network refer to a single agent instead of a distributed network of entities? We apply machine learning techniques to address the following related questions: i) how can the model explain stability of compound entities, and ii) how could the model implement a single task such as perceptual inference? We thereby find consistency with previous work on “interface” strategies from perception research. While this reflects some necessary conditions for the ascription of agency, we suggest that it is not sufficient. Here, AI research, if it is intended to contribute to conceptual understanding, would benefit from issues previously raised by philosophy. We thus conclude the article with a discussion of action-selection, the role of embodiment, and consciousness to make this more explicit. We conjecture that a combination of AI research and philosophy allows general principles of mind and being to emerge from a “quasi-empirical” investigation.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories No categories specified
(categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1515/opphil-2019-0034
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 68,908
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Minds, Brains, and Programs.John R. Searle - 1980 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 3 (3):417-57.
On the Proper Treatment of Connectionism.Paul Smolensky - 1988 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 11 (1):1-23.
A Logical Calculus of the Ideas Immanent in Nervous Activity.Warren S. McCulloch & Walter Pitts - 1943 - The Bulletin of Mathematical Biophysics 5 (4):115-133.
Minds, Brains, and Programs.John Searle - 1980 - In John Heil (ed.), Philosophy of Mind: A Guide and Anthology. Oxford University Press.
Minds, Machines and Gödel.John R. Lucas - 1961 - Philosophy 36 (137):112-127.

View all 20 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

The Phenomenal Character of Experience.Sydney Shoemaker - 1994 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 54 (2):291-314.
Against Treating Introspection as Perception-Like.Renee Smith - 2010 - PSYCHE: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Research On Consciousness 16 (1):79-86.
The Sense of Self in the Phenomenology of Agency and Perception.Jakob Hohwy - 2007 - PSYCHE: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Research On Consciousness 13.


Added to PP index

Total views
8 ( #1,002,078 of 2,497,753 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
2 ( #283,405 of 2,497,753 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes