Charles Rathkopf

Jülich Research Center
  •  14
    What Kind of Information is Brain Information?
    Topoi 39 (1): 95-102. 2020.
    Neural systems process information. This platitude contains an interesting ambiguity between multiple senses of the term “information.” According to a popular thought, the ambiguity is best resolved by reserving semantic concepts of information for the explication of neural activity at a high level of organization, and quantitative concepts of information for the explication of neural activity at a low level of organization. This article articulates the justification behind this view, and conclu…Read more
  •  20
    Modest and immodest neural codes: Can there be modest codes?
    with Rosa Cao
    Behavioral and Brain Sciences 42. 2019.
    We argue that Brette's arguments, or some variation on them, work only against the immodest codes imputed by neuroscientists to the signals they study; they do not tell against “modest” codes, which may be learned by neurons themselves. Still, caution is warranted: modest neural codes likely lead to only modest explanatory gains.
  •  17
    Mending wall
    Behavioral and Brain Sciences 42. 2019.
    Heyes suggests that selective social learning comes in two varieties. One is common, domain general, and associative. The other is rare, domain specific, and metacognitive. We argue that this binary distinction cannot quite do the work she assigns it and sketch a framework in which additional strategies for selective social learning might be accommodated.
  •  50
    What Kind of Information is Brain Information?
    Topoi 39 (1): 95-102. 2020.
    Neural systems process information. This platitude contains an interesting ambiguity between multiple senses of the term “information.” According to a popular thought, the ambiguity is best resolved by reserving semantic concepts of information for the explication of neural activity at a high level of organization, and quantitative concepts of information for the explication of neural activity at a low level of organization. This article articulates the justification behind this view, and conclu…Read more
  •  443
    Mental evolution: a review of Daniel Dennett’s From Bacteria to Bach and Back (review)
    Biology and Philosophy 32 (6): 1355-1368. 2017.
    From Bacteria To Bach and Back is an ambitious book that attempts to integrate a theory about the evolution of the human mind with another theory about the evolution of human culture. It is advertised as a defense of memes, but conceptualizes memes more liberally than has been done before. It is also advertised as a defense of the proposal that natural selection operates on culture, but conceptualizes natural selection as a process in which nearly all interesting parameters are free to vary. Thi…Read more
  •  33
    Neural information and the problem of objectivity
    Biology and Philosophy 32 (3): 321-336. 2017.
    A fascinating research program in neurophysiology attempts to quantify the amount of information transmitted by single neurons. The claims that emerge from this research raise new philosophical questions about the nature of information. What kind of information is being quantified? Do the resulting quantities describe empirical magnitudes like those found elsewhere in the natural sciences? In this article, it is argued that neural information quantities have a relativisitic character that makes …Read more
  •  649
    In this article, network science is discussed from a methodological perspective, and two central theses are defended. The first is that network science exploits the very properties that make a system complex. Rather than using idealization techniques to strip those properties away, as is standard practice in other areas of science, network science brings them to the fore, and uses them to furnish new forms of explanation. The second thesis is that network representations are particularly helpful…Read more
  •  1081
    Localization and Intrinsic Function
    Philosophy of Science 80 (1): 1-21. 2013.
    This paper describes one style of functional analysis commonly used in the neurosciences called task-bound functional analysis. The concept of function invoked by this style of analysis is distinctive in virtue of the dependence relations it bears to transient environmental properties. It is argued that task-bound functional analysis cannot explain the presence of structural properties in nervous systems. An alternative concept of neural function is introduced that draws on the theoretical neuro…Read more