•  136
    Minds, materials and metaphors
    Philosophy. forthcoming.
    What is the relationship between mental states and items of material culture, like notebooks, maps or lists? The extended mind thesis (ExM) offers an influential and controversial answer to this question. According to ExM, items of material culture can form part of the material basis for our mental states. Although ExM offers a radical view of the location of mental states, it fits comfortably with a traditional, representationalist account of the nature of those states. I argue that proponents …Read more
  •  460
    The descriptions and theoretical laws scientists write down when they model a system are often false of any real system. And yet we commonly talk as if there were objects that satisfy the scientists’ assumptions and as if we may learn about their properties. Many attempt to make sense of this by taking the scientists’ descriptions and theoretical laws to define abstract or fictional entities. In this paper, I propose an alternative account of theoretical modelling that draws upon Kendall Walton’…Read more
  •  6
    Introduction: Models and Simulations 6
    Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 56 111-112. 2016.
  •  85
    Recently, a number of authors have suggested that we understand scientific models in the same way as fictional characters, like Sherlock Holmes. The biggest challenge for this approach concerns the ontology of fictional characters. I consider two responses to this challenge, given by Roman Frigg, Ronald Giere and Peter Godfrey-Smith, and argue that neither is successful. I then suggest an alternative approach. While parallels with fiction are useful, I argue that models of real systems are more …Read more
  •  117
    Where is the understanding?
    Synthese 192 (12): 3859-3875. 2015.
    Recent work in epistemology and philosophy of science has argued that understanding is an important cognitive state that philosophers should seek to analyse. This paper offers a new perspective on understanding by looking to work in philosophy of mind and cognitive science. Understanding is normally taken to be inside the head. I argue that this view is mistaken. Often, understanding is a state that criss-crosses brain, body and world. To support this claim, I draw on extended cognition, a burge…Read more
  •  138
    Friends at last? Distributed cognition and the cognitive/social divide
    Philosophical Psychology 27 (1): 1-14. 2014.
    Distributed cognition (d-cog) claims that many cognitive processes are distributed across groups and the surrounding material and cultural environment. Recently, Nancy Nersessian, Ronald Giere, and others have suggested that a d-cog approach might allow us to bring together cognitive and social theories of science. I explore this idea by focusing on the specific interpretation of d-cog found in Edwin Hutchins' canonical text Cognition in the wild. First, I examine the scope of a d-cog approach t…Read more
  •  390
    Fictionalism and the folk
    The Monist 99 (3): 280-295. 2016.
    Mental fictionalism is the view that, even if mental states do not exist, it is useful to talk as if they do. Mental states are useful fictions. Recent philosophy of mind has seen a growing interest in mental fictionalism. To date, much of the discussion has concerned the general features of the approach. In this paper, I develop a specific form of mental fictionalism by drawing on Kendall Walton’s work on make-believe. According to the approach I propose, talk of mental states is a useful prete…Read more
  •  563
    Models as make-believe
    In Roman Frigg & Matthew Hunter (eds.), Beyond Mimesis and Convention: Representation in Art and Science, Boston Studies in Philosophy of Science. 2010.
    In this paper I propose an account of representation for scientific models based on Kendall Walton’s ‘make-believe’ theory of representation in art. I first set out the problem of scientific representation and respond to a recent argument due to Craig Callender and Jonathan Cohen, which aims to show that the problem may be easily dismissed. I then introduce my account of models as props in games of make-believe and show how it offers a solution to the problem. Finally, I demonstrate an important…Read more
  •  574
    Playing with molecules
    Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 42 (4): 580-589. 2011.
    Recent philosophy of science has seen a number of attempts to understand scientific models by looking to theories of fiction. In previous work, I have offered an account of models that draws on Kendall Walton’s ‘make-believe’ theory of art. According to this account, models function as ‘props’ in games of make-believe, like children’s dolls or toy trucks. In this paper, I assess the make-believe view through an empirical study of molecular models. I suggest that the view gains support when we lo…Read more
  •  733
    Modeling is central to scientific inquiry. It also depends heavily upon the imagination. In modeling, scientists seem to turn their attention away from the complexity of the real world to imagine a realm of perfect spheres, frictionless planes and perfect rational agents. Modeling poses many questions. What are models? How do they relate to the real world? Recently, a number of philosophers have addressed these questions by focusing on the role of the imagination in modeling. Some have also draw…Read more
  •  354
    Models as Make-Believe offers a new approach to scientific modelling by looking to an unlikely source of inspiration: the dolls and toy trucks of children's games of make-believe.
  •  138
    Similarity and Scientific Representation
    International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 26 (3): 241-257. 2012.
    The similarity view of scientific representation has recently been subjected to strong criticism. Much of this criticism has been directed against a ?naive? similarity account, which tries to explain representation solely in terms of similarity between scientific models and the world. This article examines the more sophisticated account offered by the similarity view's leading proponent, Ronald Giere. In contrast to the naive account, Giere's account appeals to the role played by the scientists …Read more
  •  182
    Empiricism for cyborgs
    Philosophical Issues 24 (1): 409-425. 2014.
    One important debate between scientific realists and constructive empiricists concerns whether we observe things using instruments. This paper offers a new perspective on the debate over instruments by looking to recent discussion in philosophy of mind and cognitive science. Realists often speak of instruments as ‘extensions’ to our senses. I ask whether the realist may strengthen her view by drawing on the extended mind thesis. Proponents of the extended mind thesis claim that cognitive process…Read more