•  245
    Affordances explained
    Philosophy of Science 70 (5): 949-961. 2003.
    I examine the central theoretical construct of ecological psychology, the concept of an affordance. In the first part of the paper, I illustrate the role affordances play in Gibson's theory of perception. In the second part, I argue that affordances are to be understood as dispositional properties, and explain what I take to be their characteristic background circumstances, triggering circumstances and manifestations. The main purpose of my analysis is to give affordances a theoretical identity …Read more
  •  158
    Insights and Blindspots of the Cognitivist Theory of Emotions
    British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 61 (4): 729-768. 2010.
    Philosophical cognitivists have argued for more than four decades that emotions are special types of judgments. Anti-cognitivists have provided a series of counterexamples aiming to show that identifying emotions with judgments overintellectualizes the emotions. I provide a novel counterexample that makes the overintellectualization charge especially vivid. I discuss neurophysiological evidence to the effect that the fear system can be activated by stimuli the subject is unaware of seeing. To em…Read more
  •  120
    Information as a Probabilistic Difference Maker
    Australasian Journal of Philosophy 93 (3): 419-443. 2015.
    By virtue of what do alarm calls and facial expressions carry natural information? The answer I defend in this paper is that they carry natural information by virtue of changing the probabilities of various states of affairs, relative to background data. The Probabilistic Difference Maker Theory of natural information that I introduce here is inspired by Dretske's [1981] seminal analysis of natural information, but parts ways with it by eschewing the requirements that information transmission mu…Read more
  •  112
    The Disjunctive Theory of Art: The Cluster Account Reformulated: Articles
    British Journal of Aesthetics 50 (2): 151-167. 2010.
    This paper suggests that art cannot be defined in terms of individually necessary and jointly sufficient conditions. Instead, we propose that there are several sufficient conditions for something's being art, and that a successful definition will consist of a disjunction of minimally sufficient conditions. Our proposal owes much to the insights of Berys Gaut's ‘“Art” as a Cluster Concept’ but offers a much simpler logical formulation, which, in addition, is immune to the objections that have bee…Read more
  •  69
    Core affect and natural affective kinds
    Philosophy of Science 76 (5): 940-957. 2009.
    It is commonly assumed that the scientific study of emotions should focus on discrete categories such as fear, anger, sadness, joy, disgust, shame, guilt, and so on. This view has recently been questioned by the emergence of the “core affect movement,” according to which discrete emotions are not natural kinds. Affective science, it is argued, should focus on core affect, a blend of hedonic and arousal values. Here, I argue that the empirical evidence does not support the thesis that core affect…Read more
  •  60
    Do Emotions Cause Actions, and If So How?
    Emotion Review 9 (4): 326-334. 2017.
    The main purpose of this article is to consider two of the most popular arguments offered in support of the view that emotions do not cause actions. One argument suggests that emotions come after actions and therefore cannot cause them. The other argument suggests that emotions are not necessarily followed by actions and therefore cannot cause them. I argue that neither of these two arguments is compelling. At the same time, some of the concerns of causation skeptics can help us better understan…Read more
  •  55
    How to define emotions scientifically
    Emotion Review 4 (4): 358-368. 2012.
    The central contention of this article is that the classificatory scheme of contemporary affective science, with its traditional categories of emotion, anger, fear, and so on, is no longer suitable to the needs of affective science. Unlike psychological constructionists, who have urged the transition from a discrete to a dimensional approach in the study of affective phenomena, I argue that we can stick to a discrete approach as long as we accept that traditional emotion categories will have to …Read more
  •  38
    Shell games, information, and counterfactuals
    Australasian Journal of Philosophy 86 (4). 2008.
    Cohen and Meskin 2006 have recently proposed a novel counterfactual account of information. I argue that it is a step down from its intended target, namely Dretske's 1981 theory of information. Thinking of the information carried by signals in terms of counterfactuals leads to falsely diagnosing bona fide instances of information transmission as not being instances of information transmission at all, with major loss of explanatory power.
  •  37
    Lindquist et al. have assumed that functional specialization requires a one-to-one mapping between brain regions and discrete emotions. This assumption is in tension with the fact that regions can have multiple functions in the context of different, possibly distributed, networks. Once we open the door to other forms of functional specialization, neuroimaging data no longer favor constructionist models over natural kind models
  •  37
    Inductive risk and justice in kidney allocation
    Bioethics 24 (8): 421-430. 2010.
    How should UNOS deal with the presence of scientific controversies on the risk factors for organ rejection when designing its allocation policies? The answer I defend in this paper is that the more undesirable the consequences of making a mistake in accepting a scientific hypothesis, the higher the degree of confirmation required for its acceptance. I argue that the application of this principle should lead to the rejection of the hypothesis that ‘less than perfect’ Human Leucocyte Antigen (HLA)…Read more
  •  34
    Some Further Thoughts on Emotions and Natural Kinds
    Emotion Review 4 (4): 391-393. 2012.
    In this brief reply, which cannot do justice to all of the valuable points my commentators have raised, I defend the view that the notion of natural kind I have introduced satisfies the ontological independence criterion and is in keeping with the commitments of realism. I also further clarify the scope of my argument against basic emotion theory, and reiterate that we should stop looking for universal theories of discrete emotions
  •  31
    Evidence of coordination as a cure for concept eliminativism
    Behavioral and Brain Sciences 33 (2-3): 223-224. 2010.
    I argue that Machery stacks the deck against hybrid theories of concepts by relying on an unduly restrictive understanding of coordination between concept parts. Once a less restrictive notion of coordination is introduced, the empirical case for hybrid theories of concepts becomes stronger, and the appeal of concept eliminativism weaker
  •  29
    Rethinking Functional Reference
    Philosophy of Science 80 (5): 1006-1018. 2013.
    The theoretical construct of functional reference is the main tool used by animal communication researchers to explore how animals refer to the world in the absence of a language. Functionally referential signals are commonly defined as signals elicited by a specific class of stimuli and capable of causing behaviors adaptive to such stimuli in the absence of contextual cues. I will argue that this definition is conceptually flawed and propose an alternative definition according to which signals …Read more
  •  23
    Emotional Expressions as Speech Act Analogs
    Philosophy of Science 85 (5): 1038-1053. 2018.
    In this article I articulate the Theory of Affective Pragmatics, which combines insights from the Basic Emotion View and the Behavioral Ecology View of emotional expressions. My core thesis is that emotional expressions are ways of manifesting one’s emotions but also of representing states of affairs, directing other people’s behaviors, and committing to future courses of actions. Since these are some of the main things we can do with language, my article’s take home message is that, from a comm…Read more
  •  17
    Adolphs and Andler’s methodological functionalism recommends that affective science focuses on what emotions do rather than on what emotions are physically constituted by or how emotions feel. In addition, it is suggested that the functional roles of emotions should be extrapolated from a set of “features” emotions intuitively appear to have. In this brief commentary, I discuss both prescriptions, focusing on the concept of function and on the role folk psychological platitudes should play in a …Read more
  •  2
    Routledge Handbook of Emotion Theory (edited book)
    Routledge. forthcoming.