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  1. Against the generalised theory of function.Harriet Fagerberg - 2022 - Biology and Philosophy 37 (4):1-25.
    Justin Garson has recently advanced a Generalised Selected Effects Theory of biological proper function. According to Garson, his theory spells trouble for the Dysfunction Account of Disorder. This paper argues that Garson’s critique of the Dysfunction Account from the Generalised Theory fails, and that we should reject the Generalised Theory outright. I first show that the Generalised Theory does not, as Garson asserts, imply that neurally selected disorders are not dysfunctional. Rather, it implies that they are both functional and dysfunctional. (...)
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  • Three Aspects of Representation in Neuroscience.Ben Baker, Benjamin Lansdell & Konrad P. Kording - forthcoming - Trends in Cognitive Sciences.
    Neuroscientists often describe neural activity as a representation of something, or claim to have found evidence for a neural representation, but there is considerable ambiguity about what such claims entail. Here we develop a thorough account of what ‘representation’ does and should do for neuroscientists in terms of three key aspects of representation. (i) Correlation: a neural representation correlates to its represented content; (ii) causal role: the representation has a characteristic effect on behavior; and (iii) teleology: a goal or purpose (...)
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  • Cognitive Functions Are Not Reducible to Biological Ones: The Case of Minimal Visual Perception.Argyris Arnellos & Alvaro Moreno - 2022 - Biology and Philosophy 37 (4):1-25.
    We argue that cognitive functions are not reducible to biological functionality. Since only neural animals can develop complex forms of agency, we assume that genuinely cognitive processes are deeply related with the activity of the nervous system. We first analyze the significance of the appearance of the nervous system in certain multicellular organisms, arguing that it has changed the logic of their biological organization. Then, we focus on the appearance of specifically cognitive capacities within the nervous system. Considering a case (...)
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  • What’s the Point? A Presentist Social Functionalist Account of Institutional Purpose.Armin W. Schulz - 2021 - Sage Publications Inc: Philosophy of the Social Sciences 52 (1-2):53-80.
    Philosophy of the Social Sciences, Volume 52, Issue 1-2, Page 53-80, January-March 2022. Although it is clear that many of the major contemporary social problems center on the extent to which social institutions do or do not function as they are meant to do, it is still unclear exactly what the function of a social institution is—and thus when this function is undermined. This paper presents and defends a novel theory of social functionalism—presentist social functionalism—to answer these questions. According to (...)
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  • Deflating the Functional Turn in Conceptual Engineering.Jared Riggs - 2021 - Synthese 199 (3-4):11555-11586.
    Conceptual engineers have recently turned to the notion of conceptual functions to do a variety of explanatory work. Functions are supposed to explain what speakers are debating about in metalinguistic negotiations, to capture when two concepts are about the same thing, and to help guide our normative inquiries into which concepts we should use. In this paper, I argue that this recent “functional turn” should be deflated. Contra most interpreters, we should not try to use a substantive notion of conceptual (...)
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  • What’s the Point? A Presentist Social Functionalist Account of Institutional Purpose.Armin W. Schulz - 2022 - Philosophy of the Social Sciences 52 (1-2):53-80.
    Although it is clear that many of the major contemporary social problems center on the extent to which social institutions do or do not function as they are meant to do, it is still unclear exactly what the function of a social institution is—and thus when this function is undermined. This paper presents and defends a novel theory of social functionalism—presentist social functionalism—to answer these questions. According to this theory, the function of social institutions is grounded in those of their (...)
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  • Cognition Without Neural Representation: Dynamics of a Complex System.Inês Hipólito - 2022 - Frontiers in Psychology 12.
    This paper proposes an account of neurocognitive activity without leveraging the notion of neural representation. Neural representation is a concept that results from assuming that the properties of the models used in computational cognitive neuroscience must literally exist the system being modelled. Computational models are important tools to test a theory about how the collected data has been generated. While the usefulness of computational models is unquestionable, it does not follow that neurocognitive activity should literally entail the properties construed in (...)
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  • Long-Arm Functional Individuation of Computation.Nir Fresco - 2021 - Synthese 199 (5-6):13993-14016.
    A single physical process may often be described equally well as computing several different mathematical functions—none of which is explanatorily privileged. How, then, should the computational identity of a physical system be determined? Some computational mechanists hold that computation is individuated only by either narrow physical or functional properties. Even if some individuative role is attributed to environmental factors, it is rather limited. The computational semanticist holds that computation is individuated, at least in part, by semantic properties. She claims that (...)
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  • Why Mental Disorders Are Not Like Software Bugs.Harriet Fagerberg - forthcoming - Philosophy of Science:1-42.
    According to the Argument for Autonomous Mental Disorder (AAMD), mental disorder can occur in the absence of brain disorder, just as software problems can occur in the absence of hardware problems in a computer. This paper argues that the AAMD is unsound. I begin by introducing the ‘natural dysfunction analysis’ of disorder, before outlining the AAMD. I then analyse the necessary conditions for realiser autonomous dysfunction. Building on this, I show that software functions disassociate from hardware functions in a way (...)
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  • Biological Functions and Natural Selection: A Reappraisal.Marc Artiga - 2021 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 11 (2):1-22.
    The goal of this essay is to assess the Selected-Effects Etiological Theory of biological function, according to which a trait has a function F if and only if it has been selected for F. First, I argue that this approach should be understood as describing the paradigm case of functions, rather than as establishing necessary and sufficient conditions for function possession. I contend that, interpreted in this way, the selected-effects approach can explain two central properties of functions and can satisfactorily (...)
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  • Review of Efficient Cognition: The Evolution of Representational Decision Making. [REVIEW]Justin Garson - 2019 - Biology and Philosophy 34 (3):38.
    Why do some organisms rely on mental representations for making decisions? Why don’t we rely merely on direct mappings from perception to behavior? Armin W. Schulz’ book, Efficient Cognition: The Evolution of Representational Decision Making, offers a novel and empirically-informed perspective on a problem that has not received the amount of philosophical attention it deserves. In his view, representational decision making evolved because creatures that use it have enhanced cognitive and neurological efficiency. Here I provide an overview of the book’s (...)
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  • Explaining How to Perceive the New: Causal-Informational Teleosemantics and Productive Response Functions.Fabian Hundertmark - 2019 - Synthese 198 (6):5335-5350.
    According to Karen Neander’s causal-informational teleosemantics, the contents of perceptual states depend on the etiological response functions of sensory-perceptual systems. In this paper, I argue that this theory is, despite its virtues, unable to explain how humans and other animals are capable of perceiving properties with which no sensory-perceptual system has ever been confronted. After rejecting Neander’s own proposal in terms of second-order similarity and a proposal inspired by Ruth Millikan in terms of simplicity, I offer a solution which equates (...)
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  • No Functions for Rocks: Garson’s Generalized Selected Effects Theory and the Liberality Problem.Peter Schulte - 2021 - Analysis 81 (2):369-378.
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  • Representation in Cognitive Science, by Nicholas Shea.Todd Ganson - forthcoming - Mind.
    Representation in Cognitive Science, by SheaNicholas. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018. Pp. 292.
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  • Function and Representational Content Through Tinbergen’s Levels of Analysis.James Brooks - 2021 - Biology and Philosophy 36 (2):1-12.
    Teleosemantics attempts to explain the content of mental representations through an appeal to functions, and typically attributes function to selection history. The narrowest cases focus on only evolutionary fitness benefit through natural selection, while broader theories have come to accept multiple levels of selection, including those over the course of a lifetime such as neural selection. The precise way to define function has given rise to many debates over the content of hypothetical mental representations. In this paper, I argue that (...)
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