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Ross Pain
Australian National University
  1. Teleosemantics and the free energy principle.Stephen Francis Mann & Ross Pain - 2022 - Biology and Philosophy 37 (4):1-25.
    The free energy principle is notoriously difficult to understand. In this paper, we relate the principle to a framework that philosophers of biology are familiar with: Ruth Millikan’s teleosemantics. We argue that: systems that minimise free energy are systems with a proper function; and Karl Friston’s notion of implicit modelling can be understood in terms of Millikan’s notion of mapping relations. Our analysis reveals some surprising formal similarities between the two frameworks, and suggests interesting lines of future research. We hope (...)
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  2. Free energy: a user’s guide.Stephen Francis Mann, Ross Pain & Michael D. Kirchhoff - 2022 - Biology and Philosophy 37 (4):1-35.
    Over the last fifteen years, an ambitious explanatory framework has been proposed to unify explanations across biology and cognitive science. Active inference, whose most famous tenet is the free energy principle, has inspired excitement and confusion in equal measure. Here, we lay the ground for proper critical analysis of active inference, in three ways. First, we give simplified versions of its core mathematical models. Second, we outline the historical development of active inference and its relationship to other theoretical approaches. Third, (...)
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  3.  97
    Stone Tools, Predictive Processing and the Evolution of Language.Ross Pain - forthcoming - Mind and Language.
    Recent work by Stout and colleagues indicates that the neural correlates of language and Early Stone Age toolmaking overlap significantly. The aim of this paper is to add computational detail to their findings. I use an error minimisation model to outline where the information processing overlap between toolmaking and language lies. I argue that the Early Stone Age signals the emergence of complex structured representations. I then highlight a feature of my account: It allows us to understand the early evolution (...)
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  4. Teleosemantics and the Hard Problem of Content.Stephen Francis Mann & Ross Pain - 2022 - Philosophical Psychology 35 (1):22-46.
    Hutto and Myin claim that teleosemantics cannot account for mental content. In their view, teleosemantics accounts for a poorer kind of relation between cognitive states and the world but lacks the theoretical tools to account for a richer kind. We show that their objection imposes two criteria on theories of content: a truth-evaluable criterion and an intensionality criterion. For the objection to go through, teleosemantics must be subject to both these criteria and must fail to satisfy them. We argue that (...)
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    How WEIRD is Cognitive Archaeology? Engaging with the Challenge of Cultural Variation and Sample Diversity.Anton Killin & Ross Pain - forthcoming - Review of Philosophy and Psychology:1-25.
    In their landmark 2010 paper, “The weirdest people in the world?”, Henrich, Heine, and Norenzayan outlined a serious methodological problem for the psychological and behavioural sciences. Most of the studies produced in the field use people from Western, Educated, Industrialised, Rich and Democratic societies, yet inferences are often drawn to the species as a whole. In drawing such inferences, researchers implicitly assume that either there is little variation across human populations, or that WEIRD populations are generally representative of the species. (...)
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