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Mohan Matthen [148]Mohan P. Matthen [2]Mohan Poulose Matthen [1]
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Mohan Matthen
University of Toronto, Mississauga
  1. Seeing, Doing, and Knowing: A Philosophical Theory of Sense Perception.Mohan Matthen - 2005 - Oxford University Press UK.
    Seeing, Doing, and Knowing is an original and comprehensive philosophical treatment of sense perception as it is currently investigated by cognitive neuroscientists. Its central theme is the task-oriented specialization of sensory systems across the biological domain. Sensory systems are automatic sorting machines; they engage in a process of classification. Human vision sorts and orders external objects in terms of a specialized, proprietary scheme of categories - colours, shapes, speeds and directions of movement, etc. This 'Sensory Classification Thesis' implies that sensation (...)
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  2. Two Ways of Thinking About Fitness and Natural Selection.Mohan Matthen & André Ariew - 2002 - Journal of Philosophy 99 (2):55-83.
    How do fitness and natural selection relate to other evolutionary factors like architectural constraint, mode of reproduction, and drift? In one way of thinking, drawn from Newtonian dynamics, fitness is one force driving evolutionary change and added to other factors. In another, drawn from statistical thermodynamics, it is a statistical trend that manifests itself in natural selection histories. It is argued that the first model is incoherent, the second appropriate; a hierarchical realization model is proposed as a basis for a (...)
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  3. The Pleasure of Art.Mohan Matthen - 2017 - Australasian Philosophical Review 1 (1):6-28.
    This paper presents a new account of aesthetic pleasure, according to which it is a distinct psychological structure marked by a characteristic self-reinforcing motivation. Pleasure figures in the appreciation of an object in two ways: In the short run, when we are in contact with particular artefacts on particular occasions, aesthetic pleasure motivates engagement and keeps it running smoothly—it may do this despite the fact that the object we engagement is aversive in some ways. Over longer periods, it plays a (...)
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  4. Sex and Death: An Introduction to Philosophy of Biology. [REVIEW]Mohan Matthen - 2002 - Philosophical Books 43 (1):78-80.
  5. Biological Functions and Perceptual Content.Mohan Matthen - 1988 - Journal of Philosophy 85 (January):5-27.
    Perceptions "present" objects as red, as round, etc.-- in general as possessing some property. This is the "perceptual content" of the title, And the article attempts to answer the following question: what is a materialistically adequate basis for assigning content to what are, after all, neurophysiological states of biological organisms? The thesis is that a state is a perception that presents its object as "F" if the "biological function" of the state is to detect the presence of objects that are (...)
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  6. Selection and Causation.Mohan Matthen & André Ariew - 2009 - Philosophy of Science 76 (2):201-224.
    We have argued elsewhere that: (A) Natural selection is not a cause of evolution. (B) A resolution-of-forces (or vector addition) model does not provide us with a proper understanding of how natural selection combines with other evolutionary influences. These propositions have come in for criticism recently, and here we clarify and defend them. We do so within the broad framework of our own “hierarchical realization model” of how evolutionary influences combine.
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  7. Is Memory Preservation?Mohan Matthen - 2010 - Philosophical Studies 148 (1):3-14.
    Memory seems intuitively to consist in the preservation of some proposition (in the case of semantic memory) or sensory image (in the case of episodic memory). However, this intuition faces fatal difficulties. Semantic memory has to be updated to reflect the passage of time: it is not just preservation. And episodic memory can occur in a format (the observer perspective) in which the remembered image is different from the original sensory image. These difficulties indicate that memory cannot be preserved content. (...)
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  8. Four Pillars of Statisticalism.Denis M. Walsh, André Ariew & Mohan Matthen - 2017 - Philosophy, Theory, and Practice in Biology 9 (1):1-18.
    Over the past fifteen years there has been a considerable amount of debate concerning what theoretical population dynamic models tell us about the nature of natural selection and drift. On the causal interpretation, these models describe the causes of population change. On the statistical interpretation, the models of population dynamics models specify statistical parameters that explain, predict, and quantify changes in population structure, without identifying the causes of those changes. Selection and drift are part of a statistical description of population (...)
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  9. The Individuation of the Senses.Mohan Matthen - 2015 - In Oxford Handbook of the Philosophy of Perception. Oxford University Press. pp. 567-586.
    How many senses do humans possess? Five external senses, as most cultures have it—sight, hearing, touch, smell, and taste? Should proprioception, kinaesthesia, thirst, and pain be included, under the rubric bodily sense? What about the perception of time and the sense of number? Such questions reduce to two. 1. How do we distinguish a sense from other sorts of information-receiving faculties? 2. By what principle do we distinguish the senses? Aristotle discussed these questions in the De Anima. H. P. Grice (...)
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  10. New Prospects for Aesthetic Hedonism.Mohan Matthen - 2018 - In Jennifer A. McMahon (ed.), Social Aesthetics and Moral Judgment: Pleasure, Reflection and Accountability. London: Routledge. pp. 13-33.
    Because culture plays a role in determining the aesthetic merit of a work of art, intrinsically similar works can have different aesthetic merit when assessed in different cultures. This paper argues that a form of aesthetic hedonism is best placed to account for this relativity of aesthetic value. This form of hedonism is based on a functional account of aesthetic pleasure, according to which it motivates and enables mental engagement with artworks, and an account of pleasure-learning, in which it reinforces (...)
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  11. Many Molyneux Questions.Mohan Matthen & Jonathan Cohen - 2020 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 98 (1):47-63.
    Molyneux's Question (MQ) concerns whether a newly sighted man would recognize/distinguish a sphere and a cube by vision, assuming he could previously do this by touch. We argue that (MQ) splits into questions about (a) shared representations of space in different perceptual systems, and about (b) shared ways of constructing higher dimensional spatiotemporal features from information about lower dimensional ones, most of the technical difficulty centring on (b). So understood, MQ resists any monolithic answer: everything depends on the constraints faced (...)
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  12. The Disunity of Color.Mohan Matthen - 1999 - Philosophical Review 108 (1):47-84.
    What is color? What is color vision? Most philosophers answer by reference to humans: to human color qualia, or to the environmental properties or "quality spaces" perceived by humans. It is argued, with reference to empirical findings concerning comparative color vision and the evolution of color vision, that all such attempts are mistaken. An adequate definition of color vision must eschew reference to its outputs in the human cognition and refer only to inputs: color vision consists in the use of (...)
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  13. How Things Look (And What Things Look That Way).Mohan Matthen - 2010 - In Bence Nanay (ed.), Perceiving the World. Oxford University Press. pp. 226.
    What colour does a white wall look in the pinkish light of the late afternoon? Philosophers disagree: they hold variously that it looks pink, white, both, and no colour at all. A new approach is offered. After reviewing the dispute, a reinterpretation of perceptual constancy is offered. In accordance with this reinterpretation, it is argued that perceptual features such as color must always be predicated of perceptual objects. Thus, it might be that in pinkish light, the wall looks white and (...)
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  14.  24
    The Oxford Handbook of the Philosophy of Perception.Mohan Matthen (ed.) - 2015 - Oxford University Press UK.
    Perception has been for philosophers in the last few decades an area of compelling interest and intense investigation. Developments in contemporary cognitive science and neuroscience has thrown up new information about the brain and new conceptions of how sensory information is processed and used. These new conceptions offer philosophers opportunities for reconceptualising the senses--what they tell us, how we use them, and the nature of the knowledge they give us. Today, the philosophy of perception resonates with ideas that had not (...)
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  15. Drift and “Statistically Abstractive Explanation”.Mohan Matthen - 2009 - Philosophy of Science 76 (4):464-487.
    A hitherto neglected form of explanation is explored, especially its role in population genetics. “Statistically abstractive explanation” (SA explanation) mandates the suppression of factors probabilistically relevant to an explanandum when these factors are extraneous to the theoretical project being pursued. When these factors are suppressed, the explanandum is rendered uncertain. But this uncertainty traces to the theoretically constrained character of SA explanation, not to any real indeterminacy. Random genetic drift is an artifact of such uncertainty, and it is therefore wrong (...)
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  16. Objects, Seeing, and Object-Seeing.Mohan Matthen - 2019 - Synthese 198 (4).
    Two questions are addressed in this paper. First, what is it to see? I argue that it is veridical experience of things outside the perceiver brought about by looking. Second, what is it to see a material object? I argue that it is experience of an occupant of a spatial region that is a logical subject for other visual features, able to move to another spatial region, to change intrinsically, and to interact with other material objects. I show how this (...)
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  17. Taxonomy, Polymorphism, and History: An Introduction to Population Structure Theory.Marc Ereshefsky & Mohan Matthen - 2005 - Philosophy of Science 72 (1):1-21.
    Homeostatic Property Cluster (HPC) theory suggests that species and other biological taxa consist of organisms that share certain similarities. HPC theory acknowledges the existence of Darwinian variation within biological taxa. The claim is that “homeostatic mechanisms” acting on the members of such taxa nonetheless ensure a significant cluster of similarities. The HPC theorist’s focus on individual similarities is inadequate to account for stable polymorphism within taxa, and fails properly to capture their historical nature. A better approach is to treat distributions (...)
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  18. On the Diversity of Auditory Objects.Mohan Matthen - 2010 - Review of Philosophy and Psychology 1 (1):63-89.
    This paper defends two theses about sensory objects. The more general thesis is that directly sensed objects are those delivered by sub-personal processes. It is shown how this thesis runs counter to perceptual atomism, the view that wholes are always sensed indirectly, through their parts. The more specific thesis is that while the direct objects of audition are all composed of sounds, these direct objects are not all sounds—here, a composite auditory object is a temporal sequence of sounds (whereas a (...)
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  19. Can Food Be Art in Virtue of Its Savour Alone?Mohan Matthen - 2021 - Critica 53 (157).
    Food has savour: a collection of properties (including appearance, aroma, mouth-feel) connected with the pleasure (or displeasure) of eating. After explaining this concept, and outlining a theory of aesthetic pleasure, I argue that, like paradigm examples of art, savour can be assessed relative to a culturally determined set of norms. Also like paradigm examples of art, the assessment of savour has no objective basis in the absence of such cultural norms. My argument in this paper is part of a larger (...)
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  20. Play, Skill, and the Origins of Perceptual Art.Mohan Matthen - 2015 - British Journal of Aesthetics 55 (2):173-197.
    Art is universal across cultures. Yet, it is biologically expensive because of the energy expended and reduced vigilance. Why do humans make and contemplate it? This paper advances a thesis about the psychological origins of perceptual art. First, it delineates the aspects of art that need explaining: not just why it is attractive, but why fine execution and form—which have to do with how the attraction is achieved—matter over and above attractiveness. Second, it states certain constraints: we need to explain (...)
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  21. Features, Places, and Things: Reflections on Austen Clark's Theory of Sentience.Mohan P. Matthen - 2004 - Philosophical Psychology 17 (4):497-518.
    The paper argues that material objects are the primary referents of visual states -- not places, as Austen Clark would have it in his A Theory of Sentience.
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  22. Active Perception and the Representation of Space.Mohan Matthen - 2014 - In Dustin Stokes, Mohan Matthen & Stephen Biggs (eds.), Perception and Its Modalities. Oxford University Press. pp. 44-72.
    Kant argued that the perceptual representations of space and time were templates for the perceived spatiotemporal ordering of objects, and common to all modalities. His idea is that these perceptual representations were specific to no modality, but prior to all—they are pre-modal, so to speak. In this paper, it is argued that active perception—purposeful interactive exploration of the environment by the senses—demands premodal representations of time and space.
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  23.  18
    Biological Functions and Perceptual Content.Mohan Matthen - 1988 - Journal of Philosophy 85 (1):5-27.
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  24. Introduction to Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Perception.Mohan Matthen - 2015 - In Oxford Handbook of the Philosophy of Perception. Oxford University Press. pp. 1-25.
    Perception is the ultimate source of our knowledge about contingent facts. It is an extremely important philosophical development that starting in the last quarter of the twentieth century, philosophers have begun to change how they think of perception. The traditional view of perception focussed on sensory receptors; it has become clear, however, that perceptual systems radically transform the output of these receptors, yielding content concerning objects and events in the external world. Adequate understanding of this process requires that we think (...)
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  25. Image Content.Mohan Matthen - 2014 - In Berit Brogaard (ed.), Does Perception Have Content? Oxford University Press. pp. 265-290.
    The senses present their content in the form of images, three-dimensional arrays of located sense features. Peacocke’s “scenario content” is one attempt to capture image content; here, a richer notion is presented, sensory images include located objects and features predicated of them. It is argued that our grasp of the meaning of these images implies that they have propositional content. Two problems concerning image content are explored. The first is that even on an enriched conception, image content has certain expressive (...)
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  26. Dual Structure of Touch: The Body Vs. Peripersonal Space.Mohan Matthen - forthcoming - In Frédérique de Vignemont (ed.), The World at Our Fingertips. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    The sense of touch provides us knowledge of two kinds of events. Tactile sensation (T) makes us aware of events on or just below the skin; haptic perception (H) gives us knowledge of things outside the body with which we are in contact. This paper argues that T and H are distinct experiences, and not (as some have argued) different aspects of the same touch-experience. In other words, T ≠ H. Moreover, H does not supervene on T. Secondly: In T, (...)
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  27. Perception and Its Modalities.Dustin Stokes, Mohan Matthen & Stephen Biggs (eds.) - 2014 - Oxford University Press.
    This volume is about the many ways we perceive. Contributors explore the nature of the individual senses, how and what they tell us about the world, and how they interrelate. They consider how the senses extract perceptual content from receptoral information. They consider what kinds of objects we perceive and whether multiple senses ever perceive a single event. They consider how many senses we have, what makes one sense distinct from another, and whether and why distinguishing senses may be useful. (...)
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  28.  15
    Color Vision: Content Versus Experience.Mohan Matthen - 1992 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 15 (1):46-47.
  29. Ephemeral Vision.Mohan Matthen - 2018 - In Thomas Crowther & Clare Mac Cumhaill (eds.), Perceptual Ephemera. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 312-339.
    Vision is organized around material objects; they are most of what we see. But we also see beams of light, depictions, shadows, reflections, etc. These things look like material objects in many ways, but it is still visually obvious that they are not material objects. This chapter articulates some principles that allow us to understand how we see these ‘ephemera’. H.P. Grice’s definition of seeing is standard in many discussions; here I clarify and augment it with a criterion drawn from (...)
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  30. How to Be Sure: Sensory Exploration and Empirical Certainty.Mohan Matthen - 2014 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 88 (1):38-69.
    I can be wrong about things I seem to perceive; the conditions might lead me to be mistaken about them. Since I can't rule out the possibility that the conditions are misleading, I can't be sure that I am perceiving this thing in my hand correctly. But suppose that I am able to examine it actively—handling it, looking closer, shining a light on it, and so on. Then, my level of uncertainty goes down; in the limit it is eliminated entirely. (...)
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  31. Debunking Enactivism: A Critical Notice of Hutto and Myin’s Radicalizing Enactivism. [REVIEW]Mohan Matthen - 2014 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 44 (1):118-128.
    In this review of Hutto and Myin's Radicalizing Enactivism, I question the adequacy of a non-representational theory of mind. I argue first that such a theory cannot differentiate cognition from other bodily engagements such as wrestling with an opponent. Second, I question whether the simple robots constructed by Rodney Brooks are adequate as models of multimodal organisms. Last, I argue that Hutto and Myin pay very little attention to how semantically interacting representations are needed to give an account of choice (...)
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  32. How to Understand Casual Relations in Natural Selection: Reply to Rosenberg and Bouchard. [REVIEW]Mohan Matthen & André Ariew - 2005 - Biology and Philosophy 20 (2-3):355-364.
    In “Two Ways of Thinking About Fitness and Natural Selection” (Matthen and Ariew [2002]; henceforth “Two Ways”), we asked how one should think of the relationship between the various factors invoked to explain evolutionary change – selection, drift, genetic constraints, and so on. We suggested that these factors are not related to one another as “forces” are in classical mechanics. We think it incoherent, for instance, to think of natural selection and drift as separate and opposed “forces” in evolutionary change (...)
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  33. Biological Universals and the Nature of Fear.Mohan Matthen - 1998 - Journal of Philosophy 95 (3):105-132.
    Cognitive definitions cannot accommodate fear as it occurs in species incapable of sophisticated cognition. Some think that fear must, therefore, be noncognitive. This paper explores another option, arguably more in line with evolutionary theory: that like other "biological universals" fear admits of variation across and within species. A paradigm case of such universals is species: it is argued that they can be defined by ostension in the manner of Putnam and Kripke without implying that they must have an invariable essence. (...)
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  34. Visual Demonstratives.Mohan Matthen - 2012 - In Athanasios Raftopoulos & Peter Machamer (eds.), Perception, Realism and the Problem of Reference. Cambridge University Press.
    When I act on something, three kinds of idea (or representation) come into play. First, I have a non-visual representation of my goals. Second, I have a visual description of the kind of thing that I must act upon in order to satisfy my goals. Finally, I have an egocentric position locator that enables my body to interact with the object. It is argued here that these ideas are distinct. It is also argued that the egocentric position locator functions in (...)
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  35. Greek Ontology and the 'Is' of Truth.Mohan Matthen - 1983 - Phronesis 28 (2):113 - 135.
    The author investigates greek ontologies that apparently rely on a conflation of "binary" (x is f) and "monadic" (x is) uses of 'is'. He uses Aristotelian and other texts to support his proposal that these ontologies are explained by the Greeks using two alternative semantic analyses for 'x is F'. The first views it as asserting a relation between x and F, the second as asserting that a "predicative complex" exists, where a predicative complex is a complex consisting of x (...)
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  36. Art Forms Emerging: An Approach to Evaluative Diversity in Art.Mohan Matthen - 2020 - Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 78 (3):303-318.
    An artwork in one culture and form, say European classical music, cannot be evaluated in the context of another, say Hindustani music. While a person educated in the traditions of European music can rationally evaluate and discuss her response to a string quartet by Beethoven, her response to music in a foreign culture is merely subjective. She might "like" the latter, but her response is merely subjective. In this paper, I discuss the role of artforms: why response can be "objectively" (...)
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  37. What is a Hand? What is a Mind?Mohan Matthen - 2000 - Revue Internationale de Philosophie (214):653-672.
    Argues that biological organs, including mental capacities, should be identified by homology (not function).
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  38. Two Visual Systems and the Feeling of Presence.Mohan Matthen - 2010 - In Nivedita Gangopadhyay, Michael Madary & Finn Spicer (eds.), Perception, Action, and Consciousness: Sensorimotor Dynamics and Two Visual Systems. Oxford University Press. pp. 107.
    Argues for a category of “cognitive feelings”, which are representationally significant, but are not part of the content of the states they accompany. The feeling of pastness in episodic memory, of familiarity (missing in Capgras syndrome), and of motivation (that accompanies desire) are examples. The feeling of presence that accompanies normal visual states is due to such a cognitive feeling; the “two visual systems” are partially responsible for this feeling.
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  39. Color Experience: A Semantic Theory.Mohan Matthen - 2010 - In Jonathan Cohen & Mohan Matthen (eds.), Color Ontology and Color Science. MIT Press. pp. 67--90.
    What is the relationship between color experience and color? Here, I defend the view that it is semantic: color experience denotes color in a code innately known by the perceiver. This semantic theory contrasts with a variety of theories according to which color is defined as the cause of color experience (in a special set of circumstances). It also contrasts with primary quality theories of color, which treat color as a physical quantity. I argue that the semantic theory better accounts (...)
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  40.  17
    Biological Universals and the Nature of Fear.Mohan Matthen - 1998 - Journal of Philosophy 95 (3):105.
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    Teleology and the Product Analogy.Mohan Matthen - 1997 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 75 (1):21 – 37.
    This article presents an analogical account of the meaning of function attributions in biology. To say that something has a function analogizes it with an artifact, but since the analogy rests on a necessary (but possibly insufficient) basis, function statements can still be assessed as true or false in an objective sense.
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  42.  45
    Plato's Late Ontology: A Riddle Resolved.Mohan Matthen - 1985 - Philosophical Review 94 (3):395-399.
  43. Defining Vision: What Homology Thinking Contributes.Mohan Matthen - 2007 - Biology and Philosophy 22 (5):675-689.
    The specialization of visual function within biological function is reason for introducing “homology thinking” into explanations of the visual system. It is argued that such specialization arises when organisms evolve by differentiation from their predecessors. Thus, it is essentially historical, and visual function should be regarded as a lineage property. The colour vision of birds and mammals do not function the same way as one another, on this account, because each is an adaptation to special needs of the visual functions (...)
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  44. What is Drift? A Response to Millstein, Skipper, and Dietrich.Mohan Matthen - 2010 - Philosophy, Theory, and Practice in Biology 2 (20130604).
    The statistical interpretation of the Theory of Natural Selection claims that natural selection and drift are statistical features of mathematical aggregates of individual-level events. Natural selection and drift are not themselves causes. The statistical interpretation is motivated by a metaphysical conception of individual priority. Recently, Millstein, Skipper, and Dietrich (2009) have argued (a) that natural selection and drift are physical processes, and (b) that the statistical interpretation rests on a misconception of the role of mathematics in biology. Both theses are (...)
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  45. Chicken, Eggs, and Speciation.Mohan Matthen - 2009 - Noûs 43 (1):94-115.
    Standard biological and philosophical treatments assume that dramatic genotypic or phenotypic change constitutes instantaneous speciation, and that barring such saltation, speciation is gradual evolutionary change in individual properties. Both propositions appear to be incongruent with standard theoretical perspectives on species themselves, since these perspectives are (a) non-pheneticist, and (b) tend to disregard intermediate cases. After reviewing certain key elements of such perspectives, it is proposed that species-membership is mediated by membership in a population. Species-membership depends, therefore, not on intrinsic characteristics (...)
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  46. Introduction.Jonathan Cohen & Mohan Matthen - 2010 - In Jonathan D. Cohen & Mohan Matthen (eds.), Color Ontology and Color Science. MIT Press.
    The Introduction discusses determinables and similarity spaces and ties together the contributions to Color Ontology and Color Science.
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  47. The Holistic Presuppositions of Aristotle's Cosmology.Mohan Matthen - 2001 - Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy 20:171-199.
    Argues that Aristotle regarded the universe, or Totality, as a single substance with form and matter, and that he regarded this substance together with the Prime Mover as a self-mover.
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  48. Is the Eye Like What It Sees? A Critique of Aristotle on Sensing by Assimilation.Mohan Matthen - 2019 - Vivarium 57 (3-4):268-292.
    Aristotle held that perception consists in the reception of external sensory qualities (or sensible forms) in the sensorium. This idea is repeated in many forms in contemporary philosophy, including, with regard to vision, in the idea (still not firmly rejected) that the retinal image consists of points of colour. In fact, this is false. Colour is a quality that is constructed by the visual system, and though it is possible to be a realist about colour, it is completely misleading to (...)
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    Is Sex Really Necessary? And Other Questions for Lewens.Mohan Matthen - 2003 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 54 (2):297-308.
    It has been claimed that certain forms of individual essentialism render the Theory of Natural Selection unable to explain why any given individual has the traits it does. Here, three reasons are offered why the Theory ought to ignore these forms of essentialism. First, the trait-distributions explained by population genetics supervene on individual-level causal links, and thus selection must have individual-level effects. Second, even if there are individuals that possess thick essences, they lie outside the domain of the Theory. Finally, (...)
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    Origins Are Not Essences in Evolutionary Systematics.Mohan Matthen - 2002 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 32 (2):167 - 181.
    Sound like a philosopher’s controversy? I think so. In ‘Evolution,’ I argued that Anti-Individualism was committed to a ‘highly metaphysical’ proposition at odds with the methodology of population genetics. This infelicity gave me reason for rejecting it. In his recent article, Pust takes issue with Neander and me. Until Pust wrote, Sober felt some small pressure from Individualism, and had shifted, albeit microscopically, toward it—he thought that on a very broad conception of causation, there might be some reason to think (...)
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