Clark has recently suggested that predictive processing advances a theory of neural function with the resources to put an ecumenical end to the “representation wars” of recent cognitive science. In this paper I defend and develop this suggestion. First, I broaden the representation wars to include three foundational challenges to representational cognitive science. Second, I articulate three features of predictive processing’s account of internal representation that distinguish it from more orthodox representationalist frameworks. Specifically, I argue that it posits a resemblance-based (...) representational architecture with organism-relative contents that functions in the service of pragmatic success, not veridical representation. Finally, I argue that internal representation so understood is either impervious to the three anti-representationalist challenges I outline or can actively embrace them. (shrink)
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 (...) avoiding these objections and I argue that both confront formidable challenges. (shrink)
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 (...) solved by bio-cognitive systems, chiefly regulation and prediction. We illustrate these arguments by reference to examples from cognitive neuroscience, principally representational similarity analysis and the emergence of dynamical models as a central postulate in neurocognitive research. (shrink)
I clarify and defend the hypothesis that human belief formation is sensitive to social rewards and punishments, such that beliefs are sometimes formed based on unconscious expectations of their likely effects on other agents – agents who frequently reward us when we hold ungrounded beliefs and punish us when we hold reasonable ones. After clarifying this phenomenon and distinguishing it from other sources of bias in the psychological literature, I argue that the hypothesis is plausible on theoretical grounds and I (...) show how it illuminates and unifies a range of psychological phenomena, including confabulation and rationalisation, positive illusions, and identity-protective cognition. (shrink)
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 (...) mind and the profound organism-relativity of experience; second, that this pragmatic, “narcissistic” character of prediction error minimization undermines its ability to explain the distinctive normativity of intentionality; and third, that predictive processing therefore mandates an extra-neural account of intentional content of exactly the sort that pragmatism’s communitarian vision of human thought can provide. (shrink)
We evaluate a growing trend towards anti-representationalism in cognitive science in the context of recent research into the development and maintenance of anorexia nervosa in cognitive neuropsychiatry. We argue two things: first, that this research relies on an explanatorily robust concept of representation—the concept of a long-term body schema; second, that this body representation underlies our most basic environmental interactions and affordance perception—the psychological phenomena supposed to be most hospitable to a non-representationalist treatment.
When the costs of acquiring knowledge outweigh the benefits of possessing it, ignorance is rational. In this paper I clarify and explore a related but more neglected phenomenon: cases in which ignorance is motivated by the anticipated costs of possessing knowledge, not acquiring it. The paper has four aims. First, I describe the psychological and social factors underlying this phenomenon of motivated ignorance. Second, I describe those conditions in which it is instrumentally rational. Third, I draw on evidence from the (...) social sciences to argue that this phenomenon of rational motivated ignorance plays an important but often unappreciated role in one of the most socially harmful forms of ignorance today: voter ignorance of societal risks such as climate change. Finally, I consider how to address the high social costs associated with rational motivated ignorance. (shrink)
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 (...) of predictive processing – which, I argue, provides a contemporary vindication of Craik’s extremely prescient “hypothesis on the nature of thought.”. (shrink)
Two striking claims are advanced on behalf of the free energy principle in cognitive science and philosophy: that it identifies a condition of the possibility of existence for self-organising systems; and that it has important implications for our understanding of how the brain works, defining a set of process theories—roughly, theories of the structure and functions of neural mechanisms—consistent with the free energy minimising imperative that it derives as a necessary feature of all self-organising systems. I argue that the conjunction (...) of claims and rests on a fallacy of equivocation. The FEP can be interpreted in two ways: as a claim about how it is possible to redescribe the existence of self-organising systems, and as a claim about how such systems maintain their existence. Although the Descriptive FEP plausibly does identify a condition of the possibility of existence for self-organising systems, it has no important implications for our understanding of how the brain works. Although the Explanatory FEP would have such implications if it were true, it does not identify a condition of the possibility of existence for self-organising systems. I consider various ways of responding to this conclusion, and I explore its implications for the role and importance of the FEP in cognitive science and philosophy. (shrink)
Understanding the relationship between wilderness outings and the resulting experience has been a central theme in resource-based, outdoor recreation research for nearly 50 years. The authors provide a review and synthesis of literature that examines how people, over time, build relationships with wilderness places and express their identities as consequences of multiple, ongoing wilderness engagements (i.e., continued participation). The paper reviews studies of everyday places and those specifically protected for wilderness and backcountry qualities. Beginning with early origins and working through (...) contemporary research the authors synthesize what diverse social scientists have learned about the long-term and continual nature of wilderness participation and its impact on the formation of identity. The thrust of the paper points researchers, planners, and managers in non-traditional directions and reframes goals and objectives for visitor planning and management in wilderness and other protected areas. (shrink)
This article presents empirical evidence to address how some visitors build relationships with a wildland place over time. Insights are drawn from qualitative interviews of recreation visitors to the backcountry at Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado. The article describes relationship to place as the active construction and accumulation of place meanings. The analysis is organized around three themes that describe how people develop relationships to place: time and experience accrued in place, social and physical interactions in and with the (...) setting, and an active reflective process of regulating sense of identity to affirm commitment to place. (shrink)
ABSTRACT How can imagination generate knowledge when its contents are voluntarily determined? Several philosophers have recently answered this question by pointing to the constraints that underpin imagination when it plays knowledge-generating roles. Nevertheless, little has been said about the nature of these constraints. In this paper, I argue that the constraints that underpin sensory imagination come from the structure of causal probabilistic generative models, a construct that has been highly influential in recent cognitive science and machine learning. I highlight several (...) attractions of this account, and I favourably contrast it with Peter Langland-Hassan’s account of sensory imagination in terms of the forward models exploited in sensorimotor control. (shrink)
This article identifies and compares meanings of wildfire risk mitigation for stakeholders in the Front Range of Colorado, USA. We examine the case of a collaborative partnership sponsored by government agencies and directed to decrease hazardous fuels in interface areas. Data were collected by way of key informant interviews and focus groups. The analysis is guided by the Circuit of Culture model in communication research. We found both shared and differing meanings between members of this partnership (the ‘‘producers’’) and other (...) stakeholders not formally in the partnership (the ‘‘consumers’’). We conclude that those promoting the partnership’s project to mitigate risk are primarily aligned with a discourse of scientific management. Stakeholders outside the partnership follow a discourse of community. We argue that failure to recognize and account for differences in the way risk mitigation is framed and related power dynamics could hamper the communicational efforts of the collaborative partnership and impact goals for fuels reduction. We recommend ways that both groups can capitalize on shared meanings and how agency managers and decision makers can build better working relationships with interface communities and other external stakeholders. (shrink)
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 (...) argue that it is fruitful to focus not on specific experimental results but rather on what I call the ‘sources of epistemic irrationality’ in human cognition. I identify four such sources and I explore whether and, if so, how Bayesian models can be reconciled with them: processing costs, evolutionary suboptimality, motivated cognition, and error management. 1 Introduction 2 The Bayesian Brain 3 The Problem of Epistemic Irrationality 3.1 Bayesian inference and rationality 3.2 Intuitive Bayesian inference 4 Sources of Epistemic Irrationality 4.1 Processing costs 4.2 Evolutionary suboptimality 4.3 Motivational influences 4.4 Error management 5 Conclusion. (shrink)
In this paper on Karl Barth's conception of truth I shall try to state his position regarding the nature of truth and the criterion of truth, and secondly I shall draw from his position some propositions which I believe exhibit a pattern in his theology which brings it into close relationship to a philosophical tradition.