20 found
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  1. Getting over Atomism: Functional Decomposition in Complex Neural Systems.Daniel C. Burnston - 2021 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 72 (3):743-772.
    Functional decomposition is an important goal in the life sciences, and is central to mechanistic explanation and explanatory reduction. A growing literature in philosophy of science, however, has challenged decomposition-based notions of explanation. ‘Holists’ posit that complex systems exhibit context-sensitivity, dynamic interaction, and network dependence, and that these properties undermine decomposition. They then infer from the failure of decomposition to the failure of mechanistic explanation and reduction. I argue that complexity, so construed, is only incompatible with one notion of decomposition, (...)
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  2. Cognitive penetration and the cognition–perception interface.Daniel C. Burnston - 2017 - Synthese 194 (9):3645-3668.
    I argue that discussions of cognitive penetration have been insufficiently clear about what distinguishes perception and cognition, and what kind of relationship between the two is supposed to be at stake in the debate. A strong reading, which is compatible with many characterizations of penetration, posits a highly specific and directed influence on perception. According to this view, which I call the “internal effect view” a cognitive state penetrates a perceptual process if the presence of the cognitive state causes a (...)
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  3.  57
    Interface problems in the explanation of action.Daniel C. Burnston - 2017 - Philosophical Explorations 20 (2):242-258.
    When doing mental ontology, we must ask how to individuate distinct categories of mental states, and then, given that individuation, ask how states from distinct categories interact. One promising proposal for how to individuate cognitive from sensorimotor states is in terms of their representational form. On these views, cognitive representations are propositional in structure, while sensorimotor representations have an internal structure that maps to the perceptual and kinematic dimensions involved in an action context. This way of thinking has resulted in (...)
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  4. Why we may not find intentions in the brain.Sebo Uithol, Daniel C. Burnston & Pim Haselager - 2014 - Neuropsychologia 56 (5):129-139.
    Intentions are commonly conceived of as discrete mental states that are the direct cause of actions. In the last several decades, neuroscientists have taken up the project of finding the neural implementation of intentions, and a number of areas have been posited as implementing these states. We argue, however, that the processes underlying action initiation and control are considerably more dynamic and context sensitive than the concept of intention can allow for. Therefore, adopting the notion of ‘intention’ in neuroscientific explanations (...)
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  5.  67
    A contextualist approach to functional localization in the brain.Daniel C. Burnston - 2016 - Biology and Philosophy 31 (4):527-550.
    Functional localization has historically been one of the primary goals of neuroscience. There is still debate, however, about whether it is possible, and if so what kind of theories succeed at localization. I argue for a contextualist approach to localization. Most theorists assume that widespread contextual variability in function is fundamentally incompatible with functional decomposition in the brain, because contextualist accounts will fail to be generalizable and projectable. I argue that this assumption is misplaced. A properly articulated contextualism can ground (...)
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  6. How to think about higher‐level perceptual contents.Daniel C. Burnston - 2023 - Mind and Language 38 (5):1166-1186.
    The standard assumption for what perception must do in order to represent a “higher level” content—say, tiger—is that it must represent the kind as such. I argue that this “as such condition” is not constitutive of what it means for a content to be “higher‐level”, and that embracing it produces a range of unfortunate dialectical consequences. After offering this critique, I give an alternative construal, the “extended perceptual space” view of higher‐level contents. This view captures the phenomena targeted by the (...)
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  7. Perceptual Integration, Modularity, and Cognitive Penetration.Daniel C. Burnston & Jonathan Cohen - 2015 - In A. Raftopoulos & J. Zeimbekis (eds.), Cognitive Influences on Perception: Implications for Philosophy of Mind, Epistemology, and Philosophy of Action. Oxford University Press.
  8. Bayes, predictive processing, and the cognitive architecture of motor control.Daniel C. Burnston - 2021 - Consciousness and Cognition 96 (C):103218.
    Despite their popularity, relatively scant attention has been paid to the upshot of Bayesian and predictive processing models of cognition for views of overall cognitive architecture. Many of these models are hierarchical ; they posit generative models at multiple distinct "levels," whose job is to predict the consequences of sensory input at lower levels. I articulate one possible position that could be implied by these models, namely, that there is a continuous hierarchy of perception, cognition, and action control comprising levels (...)
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  9.  53
    Computational neuroscience and localized neural function.Daniel C. Burnston - 2016 - Synthese 193 (12):3741-3762.
    In this paper I criticize a view of functional localization in neuroscience, which I call “computational absolutism”. “Absolutism” in general is the view that each part of the brain should be given a single, univocal function ascription. Traditional varieties of absolutism posit that each part of the brain processes a particular type of information and/or performs a specific task. These function attributions are currently beset by physiological evidence which seems to suggest that brain areas are multifunctional—that they process distinct information (...)
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  10.  31
    Data graphs and mechanistic explanation.Daniel C. Burnston - 2016 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 57 (C):1-12.
    It is a widespread assumption in philosophy of science that data is what is explained by theory—that data itself is not explanatory. I draw on instances of representational and explanatory practice from mammalian chronobiology to suggest that this assumption is unsustainable. In many instances, biologists employ representations of data in explanatory ways that are not reducible to constraints on or evidence for representations of mechanisms. Data graphs are used to exemplify relationships between quantities in the mechanism, and often these representations (...)
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  11.  50
    Scientists’ use of diagrams in developing mechanistic explanations: A case study from chronobiology.Daniel C. Burnston, Benjamin Sheredos, Adele Abrahamsen & William Bechtel - 2014 - Pragmatics and Cognition 22 (2):224-243.
    We explore the crucial role of diagrams in scientific reasoning, especially reasoning directed at developing mechanistic explanations of biological phenomena. We offer a case study focusing on one research project that resulted in a published paper advancing a new understanding of the mechanism by which the central circadian oscillator in Synechococcus elongatus controls gene expression. By examining how the diagrams prepared for the paper developed over the course of multiple drafts, we show how the process of generating a new explanation (...)
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  12.  15
    Distributed loci of control: Overcoming stale dichotomies in biology and cognitive science.Daniel C. Burnston & Antonella Tramacere - 2023 - Rivista Internazionale di Filosofia e Psicologia 14:103-117.
    _Abstract_: We argue that theoretical debates in biology and cognitive science often are based around differences in the posited _locus of control _for biological and cognitive phenomena. Internalists about locus of control posit that specific causal control over the phenomenon is exerted by factors internal (to the relevant subsystem) of an organism. Externalists posit that causally specific influence is due to external factors. In theoretical biology, we suggest, a minimal agreement has developed that the locus of control for heritable variation (...)
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  13.  19
    Fodor on imagistic mental representations.Daniel C. Burnston - 2020 - Rivista Internazionale di Filosofia e Psicologia 11 (1):71-94.
    : Fodor’s view of the mind is thoroughly computational. This means that the basic kind of mental entity is a “discursive” mental representation and operations over this kind of mental representation have broad architectural scope, extending out to the edges of perception and the motor system. However, in multiple epochs of his work, Fodor attempted to define a functional role for non-discursive, imagistic representation. I describe and critique his two considered proposals. The first view says that images play a particular (...)
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  14. Contents, vehicles, and complex data analysis in neuroscience.Daniel C. Burnston - 2020 - Synthese 199 (1-2):1617-1639.
    The notion of representation in neuroscience has largely been predicated on localizing the components of computational processes that explain cognitive function. On this view, which I call “algorithmic homuncularism,” individual, spatially and temporally distinct parts of the brain serve as vehicles for distinct contents, and the causal relationships between them implement the transformations specified by an algorithm. This view has a widespread influence in philosophy and cognitive neuroscience, and has recently been ably articulated and defended by Shea. Still, I am (...)
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  15.  58
    Anti-Intellectualism for the Learning and Employment of Skill.Daniel C. Burnston - 2020 - Review of Philosophy and Psychology 12 (3):507-526.
    I draw on empirical results from perceptual and motor learning to argue for an anti-intellectualist position on skill. Anti-intellectualists claim that skill or know-how is non-propositional. Recent proponents of the view have stressed the flexible but fine-grained nature of skilled control as supporting their position. However, they have left the nature of the mental representations underlying such control undertheorized. This leaves open several possible strategies for the intellectualist, particularly with regard to skill learning. Propositional knowledge may structure the inputs to (...)
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  16.  46
    Real Patterns in Biological Explanation.Daniel C. Burnston - 2017 - Philosophy of Science 84 (5):879-891.
    In discussion of mechanisms, philosophers often debate about whether quantitative descriptions of generalizations or qualitative descriptions of operations are explanatorily fundamental. I argue that these debates have erred by conflating the explanatory roles of generalizations and patterns. Patterns are types of variations within or between quantities in a mechanism over time or across conditions. While these patterns must often be represented in addition to descriptions of operations in order to explain a phenomenon, they are not equivalent to generalizations because their (...)
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  17. Perceptual integration, modularity, and cognitive penetration.Daniel C. Burnston & Jonathan Cohen - 2015 - In John Zeimbekis & Athanassios Raftopoulos (eds.), The Cognitive Penetrability of Perception: New Philosophical Perspectives. Oxford University Press.
     
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  18.  19
    Correction to: Cognitive penetration and the cognition–perception interface.Daniel C. Burnston - 2019 - Synthese 196 (8):3459-3459.
    On page 3653, there is a mistake in the explanation of the Cornsweet illusion. In fact, the explanation is that the panel perceived as darker is facing towards the light source—in the case of this figure the light is coming from the right.
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  19.  7
    Teleosemantics, Externalism, and the Content of Theoretical Concepts.Daniel C. Burnston - unknown
    In several works, Ruth Millikan has developed a ‘teleosemantic’ theory of concepts. Millikan’s theory has three explicit desiderata for concepts: wide scope, non-descriptionist content, and naturalism. I contend that Millikan’s theory cannot fulfill all of these desiderata simultaneously. Theoretical concepts, such as those of chemistry and physics, fall under Millikan’s intended scope, but I will argue that her theory cannot account for these concepts in a way that is compatible with both non-descriptionism and naturalism. In these cases, Millikan’s view is (...)
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  20.  31
    Review of Angela Potochnik’s Idealization and the Aims of Science. [REVIEW]Daniel C. Burnston - 2019 - Philosophy of Science 86 (3):577-583.
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