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Marco Facchin
University of Antwerp
  1. Structural representations do not meet the job description challenge.Marco Facchin - 2021 - Synthese 199 (3-4):5479-5508.
    Structural representations are increasingly popular in philosophy of cognitive science. A key virtue they seemingly boast is that of meeting Ramsey's job description challenge. For this reason, structural representations appear tailored to play a clear representational role within cognitive architectures. Here, however, I claim that structural representations do not meet the job description challenge. This is because even our most demanding account of their functional profile is satisfied by at least some receptors, which paradigmatically fail the job description challenge. Hence, (...)
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  2. Why can’t we say what cognition is (at least for the time being).Marco Facchin - 2023 - Philosophy and the Mind Sciences 4.
    Some philosophers search for the mark of the cognitive: a set of individually necessary and jointly sufficient conditions identifying all instances of cognition. They claim that the mark of the cognitive is needed to steer the development of cognitive science on the right path. Here, I argue that, at least at present, it cannot be provided. First (§2), I identify some of the factors motivating the search for a mark of the cognitive, each yielding a desideratum the mark is supposed (...)
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  3. Predictive processing and anti-representationalism.Marco Facchin - 2021 - Synthese 199 (3-4):11609-11642.
    Many philosophers claim that the neurocomputational framework of predictive processing entails a globally inferentialist and representationalist view of cognition. Here, I contend that this is not correct. I argue that, given the theoretical commitments these philosophers endorse, no structure within predictive processing systems can be rightfully identified as a representational vehicle. To do so, I first examine some of the theoretical commitments these philosophers share, and show that these commitments provide a set of necessary conditions the satisfaction of which allows (...)
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  4. Phenomenal transparency, cognitive extension, and predictive processing.Marco Facchin - forthcoming - Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences:1-23.
    I discuss Clark’s predictive processing/extended mind hybrid, diagnosing a problem: Clark’s hybrid suggests that, when we use them, we pay attention to mind-extending external resources. This clashes with a commonly accepted necessary condition of cognitive extension; namely, that mind-extending resources must be phenomenally transparent when used. I then propose a solution to this problem claiming that the phenomenal transparency condition should be rejected. To do so, I put forth a parity argument to the effect that phenomenal transparency cannot be a (...)
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  5. Extended Predictive Minds: do Markov Blankets Matter?Marco Facchin - 2021 - Review of Philosophy and Psychology (3):1-30.
    The extended mind thesis claims that a subject’s mind sometimes encompasses the environmental props the subject interacts with while solving cognitive tasks. Recently, the debate over the extended mind has been focused on Markov Blankets: the statistical boundaries separating biological systems from the environment. Here, I argue such a focus is mistaken, because Markov Blankets neither adjudicate, nor help us adjudicate, whether the extended mind thesis is true. To do so, I briefly introduce Markov Blankets and the free energy principle (...)
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  6. Is radically enactive imagination really contentless?Marco Facchin - 2022 - Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 21 (5):1089-1105.
    Radical enactivists claim that cognition is split in two distinct kinds, which can be differentiated by how they relate to mental content. In their view, basic cognitive activities involve no mental content whatsoever, whereas linguistically scaffolded, non-basic, cognitive activities constitutively involve the manipulation of mental contents. Here, I evaluate how this dichotomy applies to imagination, arguing that the sensory images involved in basic acts of imaginations qualify as vehicles of content, contrary to what radical enactivists claim. To argue so, I (...)
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  7. Retiring the “Cinderella view”: the spinal cord as an intrabodily cognitive extension.Marco Facchin, Marco Viola & Elia Zanin - 2021 - Biology and Philosophy 36 (5):1-25.
    Within the field of neuroscience, it is assumed that the central nervous system is divided into two functionally distinct components: the brain, which does the cognizing, and the spinal cord, which is a conduit of information enabling the brain to do its job. We dub this the “Cinderella view” of the spinal cord. Here, we suggest it should be abandoned. Marshalling recent empirical findings, we claim that the spinal cord is best conceived as an intrabodily cognitive extension: a piece of (...)
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  8. Are Generative Models Structural Representations?Marco Facchin - 2021 - Minds and Machines 31 (2):277-303.
    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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  9.  37
    Neural representations unobserved—or: a dilemma for the cognitive neuroscience revolution.Marco Facchin - 2023 - Synthese 203 (1):1-42.
    Neural structural representations are cerebral map- or model-like structures that structurally resemble what they represent. These representations are absolutely central to the “cognitive neuroscience revolution”, as they are the only type of representation compatible with the revolutionaries’ mechanistic commitments. Crucially, however, these very same commitments entail that structural representations can be observed in the swirl of neuronal activity. Here, I argue that no structural representations have been observed being present in our neuronal activity, no matter the spatiotemporal scale of observation. (...)
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  10. Troubles with mathematical contents.Marco Facchin - forthcoming - Philosophical Psychology.
    To account for the explanatory role representations play in cognitive science, Egan’s deflationary account introduces a distinction between cognitive and mathematical contents. According to that account, only the latter are genuine explanatory posits of cognitive-scientific theories, as they represent the arguments and values cognitive devices need to represent to compute. Here, I argue that the deflationary account suffers from two important problems, whose roots trace back to the introduction of mathematical contents. First, I will argue that mathematical contents do not (...)
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    Extended Predictive Minds: do Markov Blankets Matter?Marco Facchin - 2023 - Review of Philosophy and Psychology 14 (3):909-938.
    The extended mind thesis claims that a subject’s mind sometimes encompasses the environmental props the subject interacts with while solving cognitive tasks. Recently, the debate over the extended mind has been focused on Markov Blankets: the statistical boundaries separating biological systems from the environment. Here, I argue such a focus is mistaken, because Markov Blankets neither adjudicate, nor help us adjudicate, whether the extended mind thesis is true. To do so, I briefly introduce Markov Blankets and the free energy principle (...)
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  12. There is no “inference within a model”.Marco Facchin - 2022 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 45:e193.
    I argue that there is no viable development of the instrumentalist inference within a model research program. I further argue that both Friston and Pearl blankets are not the right sort of tool to settle debates on philosophical internalism and externalism. For these reasons, the inference within a model program is far less promising than the target article suggests.
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    Predictive Processing and Extended Consciousness: Why the Machinery of Consciousness Is (Probably) Still in the Head and the DEUTS Argument Won’t Let It Leak Outside.Marco Facchin & Niccolò Negro - 2023 - In Mark-Oliver Casper & Giuseppe Flavio Artese (eds.), Situated Cognition Research: Methodological Foundations. Springer Verlag. pp. 181-208.
    Recently, Kirchhoff and Kiverstein have argued that the extended consciousness thesis, namely the claim that the material vehicles of consciousness extend beyond our heads, is entirely compatible with, and actually mandated by, a correct interpretation of the predictive processing framework. To do so, they rely on a potent argument in favor of the extended consciousness thesis, namely the Dynamical Entanglement and Unique Temporal Signature (DEUTS) argument. Here, we will critically examine Kirchhoff and Kiverstein’s endeavor, arguing for the following three claims. (...)
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  14. Predictive processing and extended consciousness: why the machinery of consciousness is (probably) still in the head and the DEUTS argument won’t let it leak outside.Marco Facchin & Niccolò Negro - forthcoming - In Mark-Oliver Casper & Giuseppe Flavio Artese (eds.), Situated Cognition Research. Springer.
    Consciousness vehicle externalism is the claim that the material machinery of a subject’s phenomenology partially leaks outside a subject’s brain, encompassing bodily and environmental structures. The DEUTS argument is the most prominent argument for CVE in the sensorimotor enactivists’ arsenal. In a recent series of publications, Kirchhoff and Kiverstein have deployed such an argument to claim that a prominent view of neural processing, namely predictive processing, is fully compatible with CVE. Indeed, in Kirchhoff and Kiverstein’s view, a proper understanding of (...)
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    “Cartesian” Relational Cognition and Organism-Centered Cognitive Agency.Marco Facchin - 2023 - Constructivist Foundations 18 (3):378-380.
    Open peer commentary on the article “Beyond Individual-Centred 4E Cognition: Systems Biology and Sympoiesis” by Mads Julian Dengsø & Michael David Kirchhoff. Abstract: I examine the authors’ concept of relational cognition, showing that it has two possible readings, both more “cartesian” than the authors suppose. Whence the authors’ “anti-cartesianism,” then? I suggest it is due to an understanding of cognition that allows cognition to operate at very long timescales, and provide an argument to resist such an understanding.
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