•  121
    In a recent article published in Ergo and entitled "Ontic explanation is either ontic or explanatory, but not both," Cory Wright and Dingmar van Eck have sought to undermine any ontic approach to explanation, providing three arguments to show that an epistemic approach is "the only game in town." I show that each of their arguments is straightforwardly question-begging. For brevity, I make my counter-arguments by showing how the claims of Sheredos (2016)-whom Wright & van Eck cite as an ally-und…Read more
  •  216
    Previous work in Game Studies has centered on several loci of investigation in seeking to understand virtual gameworlds. First, researchers have scrutinized the concept of the virtual world itself and how it relates to the idea of “the magic circle”. Second, the field has outlined various forms of experienced “presence”. Third, scholarship has noted that the boundaries between the world of everyday life and virtual worlds are porous, and that this fosters a multiplicity of identities as players …Read more
  •  222
    I argue (1) that what (ontic) New Mechanistic philosophers of science call mechanisms would be material Gestalten, and (2) that Merleau-Ponty’s engagement with Gestalt theory can help us frame a standing challenge against ontic conceptions of mechanisms. In short, until the (ontic) New Mechanist can provide us with a plausible account of the organization of mechanisms as an objective feature of mind-independent ontic structures in the world which we might discover – and no ontic Mechanist has do…Read more
  •  21
    Act and Intentionality
    Dissertation, University of California, San Diego. 2016.
    Understanding the “intentionality” of mental phenomena is widely regarded as a key problem in philosophy of mind. Franz Brentano (along with his students, especially Edmund Husserl) is widely credited with bringing intentionality to philosophers’ attention. In early treatment by the Brentano school, intentionality is at least nominally understood as executed, brought about, or achieved in mental acts. And in the early 20th century, historians of psychology regarded this “act conception” of inten…Read more
  •  22
    Communicating with scientific graphics: a descriptive inquiry into non-ideal normativity
    Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 63 32-44. 2017.
    Scientists’ graphical practices have recently become a target of inquiry in the philosophy of science, and in the cognitive sciences. Here I supplement our understanding of graphical practices via a case study of how researchers crafted the graphics for scientific publication in the field of circadian biology. The case highlights social aspects of graphical production which have gone understudied e especially concerning the negotiation of publication. I argue that it also supports a challenge to…Read more
  •  5
    Biologists often hypothesize mechanisms to explai phenomena. Our interest is how their understanding of the phenomena and mechanisms develops as they construct diagrams to communicate their claims. We present two case studies in which scientists integrate various data to create a single diagram to communicate their major conclusions in a research publication. In both cases, the history of revisions suggests that scientists' initial drafts encode biases and oversights that are only gradually over…Read more
  •  20
    Sketching Biological Phenomena and Mechanisms
    Topics in Cognitive Science 9 (4): 970-985. 2017.
    In many fields of biology, both the phenomena to be explained and the mechanisms proposed to explain them are commonly presented in diagrams. Our interest is in how scientists construct such diagrams. Researchers begin with evidence, typically developed experimentally and presented in data graphs. To arrive at a robust diagram of the phenomenon or the mechanism, they must integrate a variety of data to construct a single, coherent representation. This process often begins as the researchers crea…Read more
  •  187
    Merleau-Ponty’s Immanent Critique of Gestalt Theory
    Human Studies 40 (2): 191-215. 2017.
    Merleau-Ponty’s appropriation of Gestalt theory in The Structure of Behavior is central to his entire corpus. Yet commentators exhibit little agreement about what lesson is to be learned from his critique, and provide little exegesis of how his argument proceeds. I fill this exegetical gap. I show that the Gestaltist’s fundamental error is to reify forms as transcendent realities, rather than treating them as phenomena of perceptual consciousness. From this, reductivist errors follow. The essay …Read more
  •  70
    Phenomenal Intentionality (review)
    Philosophical Psychology 28 (6): 924-928. 2015.
  •  29
    Act Psychology and Phenomenology: Husserl on Egoic Acts
    Husserl Studies 33 (3): 191-209. 2017.
    Husserl famously retracted his early portrayal, in Logische Untersuchungen, of phenomenology as empirical psychology. Previous scholarship has typically understood this transcendental turn in light of the Ideen’s revised conception of the ἐποχή, and its distinction between noesa and noemata. This essay thematizes the evolution of the concept of mental acts in Husserl’s work as a way of understanding the shift. I show how the recognition of the pure ego in Ideen I and II enabled Husserl to radica…Read more
  •  295
    HIT on the Psychometric Approach
    Psychological Inquiry 22 (2): 108-114. 2011.
    Traditionally, identity and supervenience have been proposed in philosophy of mind as metaphysical accounts of how mental activities (fully understood, as they might be at the end of science) relate to brain processes. Kievet et al. suggest that to be relevant to cognitive neuroscience, these philosophical positions must make empirically testable claims and be evaluated accordingly – they cannot sit on the sidelines, awaiting the hypothetical completion of cognitive neuroscience. We agree with t…Read more
  •  91
    Recent attempts to reconcile the ontic and epistemic approaches to explanation propose that our best explanations simply fulfill epistemic and ontic norms simultaneously. I aim to upset this armistice. Epistemic norms of attaining general and systematic explanations are, I argue, autonomous of ontic norms: they cannot be fulfilled simultaneously or in simple conjunction with ontic norms, and plausibly have priority over them. One result is that central arguments put forth by ontic theorists agai…Read more
  •  36
    We explore the crucial role of diagrams in scientific reasoning, especially reasoning directed at developing mechanistic explanations of biological phenomena. We offer a case study focusing on one research project that resulted in a published paper advancing a new understanding of the mechanism by which the central circadian oscillator in Synechococcus elongatus controls gene expression. By examining how the diagrams prepared for the paper developed over the course of multiple drafts, we show ho…Read more
  •  65
    Why do biologists use so many diagrams?
    with Daniel Burnston, Adele Abrahamsen, and William Bechtel
    Philosophy of Science 80 (5): 931-944. 2013.
    Diagrams have distinctive characteristics that make them an effective medium for communicating research findings, but they are even more impressive as tools for scientific reasoning. Focusing on circadian rhythm research in biology to explore these roles, we examine diagrammatic formats that have been devised to identify and illuminate circadian phenomena and to develop and modify mechanistic explanations of these phenomena.
  •  38
    Derek Bolton has claimed that extant philosophical theories of mind imply accounts of mental disorder, via their accounts of intentionality. The purpose of this paper is to extend Bolton’s claims, by exploring what an embodied/situated theory of mind might imply about mental disorder. I argue that, unlike the more traditional views Bolton considers, embodied/situated accounts can (in principle) provide an observer-independent criterion for distinguishing mental health from disorder in cases of C…Read more
  •  32
    Imagining Mechanisms with Diagrams
    In Arnon Levy & Peter Godfrey-Smith (eds.), The Scientific Imagination: Philosophical and Psychological Perspectives, Oxford University Press. forthcoming.
    Some proponents of mechanistic explanation downplay the significance of how-possibly explanations. We argue that developing accounts of mechanisms that could explain a phenomenon is an important aspect of scientific reasoning, one that involves imagination. Although appeals to imagination may seem to obscure the process of reasoning, we illustrate how, by examining diagrams we can gain insights into the construction of mechanistic explanations.