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  1. How to Count Biological Minds: Symbiosis, the Free Energy Principle, and Reciprocal Multiscale Integration.Matthew Sims - 2020 - Synthese 199 (1-2):2157-2179.
    The notion of a physiological individuals has been developed and applied in the philosophy of biology to understand symbiosis, an understanding of which is key to theorising about the major transition in evolution from multi-organismality to multi-cellularity. The paper begins by asking what such symbiotic individuals can help to reveal about a possible transition in the evolution of cognition. Such a transition marks the movement from cooperating individual biological cognizers to a functionally integrated cognizing unit. Somewhere along the way, did (...)
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  • A World Unto Itself: Human Communication as Active Inference.Jared Vasil, Paul B. Badcock, Axel Constant, Karl Friston & Maxwell J. D. Ramstead - 2020 - Frontiers in Psychology 11.
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  • A Critical Analysis of Markovian Monism.Majid D. Beni - 2021 - Synthese 199 (3-4):6407-6427.
    Free Energy Principle underlies a unifying framework that integrates theories of origins of life, cognition, and action. Recently, FEP has been developed into a Markovian monist perspective. The paper expresses scepticism about the validity of arguments for Markovian monism. The critique is based on the assumption that Markovian models are scientific models, and while we may defend ontological theories about the nature of scientific models, we could not read off metaphysical theses about the nature of target systems from our theories (...)
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  • Self-Supervision, Normativity and the Free Energy Principle.Jakob Hohwy - 2020 - Synthese 199 (1-2):29-53.
    The free energy principle says that any self-organising system that is at nonequilibrium steady-state with its environment must minimize its free energy. It is proposed as a grand unifying principle for cognitive science and biology. The principle can appear cryptic, esoteric, too ambitious, and unfalsifiable—suggesting it would be best to suspend any belief in the principle, and instead focus on individual, more concrete and falsifiable ‘process theories’ for particular biological processes and phenomena like perception, decision and action. Here, I explain (...)
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  • Oppressive Things.Shen-yi Liao & Bryce Huebner - 2021 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 103 (1):92-113.
    In analyzing oppressive systems like racism, social theorists have articulated accounts of the dynamic interaction and mutual dependence between psychological components, such as individuals’ patterns of thought and action, and social components, such as formal institutions and informal interactions. We argue for the further inclusion of physical components, such as material artifacts and spatial environments. Drawing on socially situated and ecologically embedded approaches in the cognitive sciences, we argue that physical components of racism are not only shaped by, but also (...)
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  • The Ant Colony as a Test for Scientific Theories of Consciousness.Daniel A. Friedman & Eirik Søvik - 2019 - Synthese (2):1-24.
    The appearance of consciousness in the universe remains one of the major mysteries unsolved by science or philosophy. Absent an agreed-upon definition of consciousness or even a convenient system to test theories of consciousness, a confusing heterogeneity of theories proliferate. In pursuit of clarifying this complicated discourse, we here interpret various frameworks for the scientific and philosophical study of consciousness through the lens of social insect evolutionary biology. To do so, we first discuss the notion of a forward test versus (...)
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  • Precise Worlds for Certain Minds: An Ecological Perspective on the Relational Self in Autism.Axel Constant, Jo Bervoets, Kristien Hens & Sander Van de Cruys - 2018 - Topoi:1-12.
    Autism Spectrum Condition presents a challenge to social and relational accounts of the self, precisely because it is broadly seen as a disorder impacting social relationships. Many influential theories argue that social deficits and impairments of the self are the core problems in ASC. Predictive processing approaches address these based on general purpose neurocognitive mechanisms that are expressed atypically. Here we use the High, Inflexible Precision of Prediction Errors in Autism approach in the context of cultural niche construction to explain (...)
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  • Steps to a Sustainable Mind: Explorations Into the Ecology of Mind and Behaviour.Roope Oskari Kaaronen - 2020 - Dissertation, University of Helsinki
    This transdisciplinary doctoral thesis presents various theoretical, methodological and empirical approaches that together form an ecological approach to the study of social sciences. The key argument follows: to understand how sustainable behaviours and cultures may emerge, and how their development can be facilitated, we must further learn how behaviours emerge as a function of the person and the material and social environment. Furthermore, in this thesis the sustainability crises are framed as sustain-ability crises. We must better equip our cultures with (...)
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  • Cultural Evolution of Sustainable Behaviors: Pro-Environmental Tipping Points in an Agent-Based Model.Roope Oskari Kaaronen & Nikita Strelkovskii - 2020 - One Earth 2 (1):85-97.
    To reach sustainability transitions, we must learn to leverage social systems into tipping points, where societies exhibit positive-feedback loops in the adoption of sustainable behavioral and cultural traits. However, much less is known about the most efficient ways to reach such transitions or how self-reinforcing systemic transformations might be instigated through policy. We employ an agent-based model to study the emergence of social tipping points through various feedback loops that have been previously identified to constitute an ecological approach to human (...)
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  • The Free Energy Principle: It’s Not About What It Takes, It’s About What Took You There.Axel Constant - 2021 - Biology and Philosophy 36 (2):1-17.
    Philosophical writings on the free energy principle in the life sciences often give the impression that minimising free energy is sufficient for life. But minimising free energy is not a sufficient condition for life. In fact, one can perfectly well conceive of a system that actively minimises its free energy, and for this very reason moves inexorably towards death. So, where does the assumption of this entailment relation come from? There is indeed an entailment relation, but it goes the other (...)
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  • Limiting the explanatory scope of extended active inference: the implications of a causal pattern analysis of selective niche construction, developmental niche construction, and organism-niche coordination dynamics.Regina E. Fabry - 2021 - Biology and Philosophy 36 (1):1-26.
    Research in evolutionary biology and philosophy of biology and cognition strongly suggests that human organisms modify their environment through active processes of niche construction. Recently, proponents of the free-energy principle and variational active inference have argued that their approach can deepen our understanding of the reciprocal causal relationship between organisms and their niche on various scales. This paper examines the feasibility and scope of variational formalisations and conceptualisations of the organism-niche nexus with a particular focus on the extended active inference (...)
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  • Minimizing prediction errors in predictive processing: from inconsistency to non-representationalism.Thomas van Es - 2020 - Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 19 (5):997-1017.
    Predictive processing is an increasingly popular approach to cognition, perception and action. It says that the brain is essentially a hierarchical prediction machine. It is typically construed in a representationalist and inferentialist fashion so that the brain makes contentful inferences on the basis of representational models. In this paper, I argue that the predictive processing framework is inconsistent with this epistemic position. In particular, I argue that the combination of hierarchical modeling, contentful inferentialism and representationalism entail an internal inconsistency. Specifically, (...)
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  • Multiscale Integration: Beyond Internalism and Externalism.Maxwell J. D. Ramstead, Michael D. Kirchhoff, Axel Constant & Karl J. Friston - 2019 - Synthese 198 (Suppl 1):41-70.
    We present a multiscale integrationist interpretation of the boundaries of cognitive systems, using the Markov blanket formalism of the variational free energy principle. This interpretation is intended as a corrective for the philosophical debate over internalist and externalist interpretations of cognitive boundaries; we stake out a compromise position. We first survey key principles of new radical views of cognition. We then describe an internalist interpretation premised on the Markov blanket formalism. Having reviewed these accounts, we develop our positive multiscale account. (...)
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  • A Multi-Scale View of the Emergent Complexity of Life: A Free-Energy Proposal.Casper Hesp, Maxwell Ramstead, Axel Constant, Paul Badcock, Michael David Kirchhoff & Karl Friston - forthcoming - In Michael Price & John Campbell (eds.), Evolution, Development, and Complexity: Multiscale Models in Complex Adaptive Systems.
    We review some of the main implications of the free-energy principle (FEP) for the study of the self-organization of living systems – and how the FEP can help us to understand (and model) biotic self-organization across the many temporal and spatial scales over which life exists. In order to maintain its integrity as a bounded system, any biological system - from single cells to complex organisms and societies - has to limit the disorder or dispersion (i.e., the long-run entropy) of (...)
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  • A Theory of Predictive Dissonance: Predictive Processing Presents a New Take on Cognitive Dissonance.Roope Oskari Kaaronen - 2018 - Frontiers in Psychology 9.
    This article is a comparative study between predictive processing (PP, or predictive coding) and cognitive dissonance (CD) theory. The theory of CD, one of the most influential and extensively studied theories in social psychology, is shown to be highly compatible with recent developments in PP. This is particularly evident in the notion that both theories deal with strategies to reduce perceived error signals. However, reasons exist to update the theory of CD to one of “predictive dissonance.” First, the hierarchical PP (...)
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  • Cultural Attachment: From Behavior to Computational Neuroscience.Wei-Jie Yap, Bobby Cheon, Ying-yi Hong & George I. Christopoulos - 2019 - Frontiers in Human Neuroscience 13.
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