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A Multi-scale View of the Emergent Complexity of Life: A Free-energy Proposal

In Michael Price & John Campbell (eds.), Evolution, Development, and Complexity: Multiscale Models in Complex Adaptive Systems (forthcoming)

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  1. 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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  • 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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  • 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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