- Last Updated on Tuesday, 14 October 2014 19:46
My book appeared and can be purchased in print or in Kindle, or directly from MIT Press. Oron Shagrir reviewed it in Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews, and Frances Egan in the Review of Metaphysics (behind a paywall). I also talk about the book with Carrie Figdor in New Books in Philosophy.
For the book, I was awarded the National Science Centre prize in humanities and social sciences for young scientists in 2014.
In the book, I argue that the mind can be explained computationally because it is itself computational—whether it engages in mental arithmetic, parses natural language, or processes the auditory signals that allow us to experience music. All these capacities arise from complex information-processing operations of the mind. By analyzing the state of the art in cognitive science, I develop an account of computational explanation used to explain the capacities in question.
Defending the computational explanation against objections to it—from John Searle and Hilary Putnam in particular— I conclude that computationalism is here to stay but is not what many have taken it to be. In particular, it does not rely on a Cartesian gulf between either software and hardware or mind and brain. The computational method of describing the ways information is processed is usually abstract—but cognition is possible only when computation is realized physically, and the physical realization is not the same thing as its description. The mechanistic construal of computation allows me to show that no purely computational explanation of a physical process will ever be complete. This is because we also need to account for how the computation is physically implemented, and in explaining this, we cannot simply appeal to computation itself. In addition, we need to know how the computational mechanism is embedded in the environment, which, again, is not a purely computational matter. For this reason, computationalism is plausible only if you also accept explanatory pluralism: the proposition that there are acceptable causal explanations that are not spelled out in terms of any computational idiom. This is perfectly in line with the mechanistic philosophy of science.
I sketch a mechanistic theory of implementation of computation against a background of extant conceptions, describing four dissimilar computational models of cognition. The first model is Allen Newell and Herbert Simon’s model of problem solving involved in so-called cryptarithmetics, which is a kind of mathematical puzzle. Then, a connectionist model of past tense acquisition of English verbs, developed by David Rumelhart and James McClelland in 1980s, is scrutinized, to be followed by a biologically plausible model of path integration in rats. The latter one was built in 2005 by John Conklin and Chris Eliasmith and is one of the cutting-edge developments in computational neuroscience. The last case study is a robotic model of phonotaxis in crickets, developed by Barbara Webb, which shows the application of robotic explanations in neuroethology.
I review other philosophical accounts of implementation and computational explanation and defends a notion of representation that is compatible with his mechanistic account and adequate vis à vis the four models discussed earlier. Instead of arguing that there is no computation without representation, I invert the slogan and show that there is no representation without computation—but explains that representation goes beyond purely computational considerations. My arguments vindicate computational explanation in a novel way by relying on mechanistic theory of science and interventionist theory of causation. The overall ambition of the project is to furnish cognitive scientists with an up-to-date conceptual and methodological framework of computational explanation.
This work was supported by Polish Ministry of Science and Higher Education grant N N101 138039 under the contract 1380/B/H03/2010/39. In 2013, it won the Tadeusz Kotarbiński prize for the best book in philosophy in 2011-2013 from the Section I of the Polish Academy of Sciences.
- Last Updated on Tuesday, 06 August 2013 13:04
Chapter Two 30
Carving the Mind by its Joints: Culture-bound Psychiatric
Disorders as Natural Kinds
Chapter Three 49
Chapter Four 71
A Biological Perspective on the Nature of Cognition:
Some Remarks for a Naturalistic Program
Chapter Five 86
Do Animals See Objects?
Chapter Six 103
Grounding the Origins of the State in the Evolution of the Mind
Chapter Seven 119
Realization and Robustness: Naturalizing Nonreductive
Markus I. Eronen
Chapter Eight 138
Can the Mental be Causally Efficacious?
Chapter Nine 167
On Reduction and Interfield Integration in Neuroscience
Witold M. Hensel
Chapter Ten 182
Challenges to Cartesian Materialism: Understanding
Consciousness and the Mind-World Relation
Chapter Eleven 203
Qualia as Intrinsic Properties
Chapter Twelve 216
A HOT Solution to the Problem of the Explanatory Gap
Chapter Thirteen 232
Naturalizing Epistemology for Autonomous Systems
Jaime Gomez Ramirez
Chapter Fourteen 248
How Truth could be Reduced? Field’s Deflationism as a Kind
of Supervenience Thesis
Chapter Fifteen 262
How to Naturalize Truth
María J. Frápolli
- Last Updated on Friday, 17 August 2012 17:58
Microsoft Office contains a decent OCR engine, yet it does not create PDF files with a text layer on it. This project contains a script that takes a tif file and converts it into HOCR format (HTML + OCR). This can be then processed with a simple Java program to get a PDF file. Grab it here.
- Last Updated on Friday, 17 August 2012 19:51
The volume we edited with Konrad Talmont-Kamiński has just been published.
Here is the blurb:
The contributors to this volume engage with issues of normativity within naturalised philosophy. The issues are critical to naturalism as most traditional notions in philosophy, such as knowledge, justification or representation, are said to involve normativity. Some of the contributors pursue the question of the correct place of normativity within a naturalised ontology, with emergentist and eliminativist answers offered on neighbouring pages. Others seek to justify particular norms within a naturalised framework, the more surprising ones including naturalist takes on the a priori and intuitions. Finally, yet others examine concrete examples of the application of norms within particular epistemic endeavours, such as psychopathology and design. The overall picture is that of an intimate engagement with issues of normativity on the part of naturalist philosophers – questioning some of the fundamentals at the same time as they try to work out many of the details.
You can find the contents of the volume below.
- Last Updated on Friday, 17 August 2012 19:51
Information technology changes our everyday lives. We typically use computers for writing, editing, calculating, and information searching, and increasingly for reading, listening to music, viewing photos and watching movies. We carry small computers in our pockets and use them to make phone calls, write emails, get information and entertain ourselves, wherever we are. How does this massive digitisation of information, knowledge and everyday communication affect our language? Will our language change or even disappear? These are the kinds of questions that I answer in the META-NET publication: The Polish Language in The Digital Age. Freely downloadable!