•  289
    Why we may not find intentions in the brain
    with Sebo Uithol and Pim Haselager
    Neuropsychologia 56 129-139. 2014.
    Intentions are commonly conceived of as discrete mental states that are the direct cause of actions. In the last several decades, neuroscientists have taken up the project of finding the neural implementation of intentions, and a number of areas have been posited as implementing these states. We argue, however, that the processes underlying action initiation and control are considerably more dynamic and context sensitive than the concept of intention can allow for. Therefore, adopting the notion…Read more
  •  84
    I argue that discussions of cognitive penetration have been insufficiently clear about what distinguishes perception and cognition, and what kind of relationship between the two is supposed to be at stake in the debate. A strong reading, which is compatible with many characterizations of penetration, posits a highly specific and directed influence on perception. According to this view, which I call the “internal effect view” a cognitive state penetrates a perceptual process if the presence of th…Read more
  •  59
    Why do biologists use so many diagrams?
    with Benjamin Sheredos, 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.
  •  47
    Naturalism and scientific creativity: new tools for analyzing science (review)
    Metascience 21 (1): 115-118. 2012.
    Naturalism and scientific creativity: new tools for analyzing science Content Type Journal Article Pages 1-4 DOI 10.1007/s11016-010-9513-1 Authors Daniel Burnston, Department of Philosophy, Interdisciplinary Cognitive Science Program, University of California, San Diego, 9500 Gilman Drive # 0119, La Jolla, CA 92093-0119, USA Journal Metascience Online ISSN 1467-9981 Print ISSN 0815-0796.
  •  40
    A contextualist approach to functional localization in the brain
    Biology and Philosophy 31 (4): 527-550. 2016.
    Functional localization has historically been one of the primary goals of neuroscience. There is still debate, however, about whether it is possible, and if so what kind of theories succeed at localization. I argue for a contextualist approach to localization. Most theorists assume that widespread contextual variability in function is fundamentally incompatible with functional decomposition in the brain, because contextualist accounts will fail to be generalizable and projectable. I argue that t…Read more
  •  32
    Computational neuroscience and localized neural function
    Synthese 193 (12): 3741-3762. 2016.
    In this paper I criticize a view of functional localization in neuroscience, which I call “computational absolutism”. “Absolutism” in general is the view that each part of the brain should be given a single, univocal function ascription. Traditional varieties of absolutism posit that each part of the brain processes a particular type of information and/or performs a specific task. These function attributions are currently beset by physiological evidence which seems to suggest that brain areas ar…Read more
  •  17
    Interface problems in the explanation of action
    Philosophical Explorations 20 (2): 242-258. 2017.
    When doing mental ontology, we must ask how to individuate distinct categories of mental states, and then, given that individuation, ask how states from distinct categories interact. One promising proposal for how to individuate cognitive from sensorimotor states is in terms of their representational form. On these views, cognitive representations are propositional in structure, while sensorimotor representations have an internal structure that maps to the perceptual and kinematic dimensions inv…Read more
  •  15
    Data graphs and mechanistic explanation
    Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 57 1-12. 2016.
    It is a widespread assumption in philosophy of science that data is what is explained by theory—that data itself is not explanatory. I draw on instances of representational and explanatory practice from mammalian chronobiology to suggest that this assumption is unsustainable. In many instances, biologists employ representations of data in explanatory ways that are not reducible to constraints on or evidence for representations of mechanisms. Data graphs are used to exemplify relationships bet…Read more
  •  9
    Real Patterns in Biological Explanation
    Philosophy of Science 84 (5): 879-891. 2017.
    In discussion of mechanisms, philosophers often debate about whether quantitative descriptions of generalizations or qualitative descriptions of operations are explanatorily fundamental. I argue that these debates have erred by conflating the explanatory roles of generalizations and patterns. Patterns are types of variations within or between quantities in a mechanism over time or across conditions. While these patterns must often be represented in addition to descriptions of operations in order…Read more
  •  6
    On page 3653, there is a mistake in the explanation of the Cornsweet illusion. In fact, the explanation is that the panel perceived as darker is facing towards the light source—in the case of this figure the light is coming from the right.