•  86
    Realism and Anti-Realism Are Both True (and False)
    Mind and Matter 18 (2): 121-148. 2020.
    The perennial nature of some of philosophy’s deepest problems is a puzzle. Here, one problem, the realism–anti-realism debate, and one type of explanation for its longevity, are examined. It is argued that realism and anti-realism form a dialetheic pair: While they are in fact each other’s logical opposite, nevertheless, both are true (and both false). First, several reasons why one might think such a thing are presented. These reasons are merely the beginning, however. In the following sections…Read more
  •  10
    When Science Confronts Philosophy: Three Case Studies
    Axiomathes 30 (5): 479-500. 2020.
    This paper examines three cases of the clash between science and philosophy: Zeno’s paradoxes, the Frame Problem, and a recent attempt to experimentally refute skepticism. In all three cases, the relevant science claims to have resolved the purported problem. The sciences, construing the term broadly, are mathematics, artificial intelligence, and psychology. The goal of this paper is to show that none of the three scientific solutions work. The three philosophical problems remain as vibrant as e…Read more
  •  81
    Equivalence of the Frame and Halting Problems
    with Chris Fields
    Algorithms 13 (175): 1-9. 2020.
    The open-domain Frame Problem is the problem of determining what features of an open task environment need to be updated following an action. Here we prove that the open-domain Frame Problem is equivalent to the Halting Problem and is therefore undecidable. We discuss two other open-domain problems closely related to the Frame Problem, the system identification problem and the symbol-grounding problem, and show that they are similarly undecidable. We then reformulate the Frame Problem as a quant…Read more
  •  72
    This paper examines three cases of the clash between science and philosophy: Zeno’s paradoxes, the Frame Problem, and a recent attempt to experimentally refute skepticism. In all three cases, the relevant science claims to have resolved the purported problem. The sciences, construing the term broadly, are mathematics, artificial intelligence, and psychology. The goal of this paper is to show that none of the three scientific solutions work. The three philosophical problems remain as vibrant as e…Read more
  • Computer Thought: Propositional Attitudes and Meta-Knowledge
    Dissertation, The University of Arizona. 1985.
    Though artificial intelligence scientists frequently use words such as "belief" and "desire" when describing the computational capacities of their programs and computers, they have completely ignored the philosophical and psychological theories of belief and desire. Hence, their explanations of computational capacities which use these terms are frequently little better than folk-psychological explanations. Conversely, though philosophers and psychologists attempt to couch their theories of belie…Read more
  •  12
    On the inappropriate use of the naturalistic fallacy in evolutionary psychology
    with David Wilson and Anne Clark
    Biology and Philosophy 18 (5): 669-681. 2003.
    The naturalistic fallacy is mentionedfrequently by evolutionary psychologists as anerroneous way of thinking about the ethicalimplications of evolved behaviors. However,evolutionary psychologists are themselvesconfused about the naturalistic fallacy and useit inappropriately to forestall legitimateethical discussion. We briefly review what thenaturalistic fallacy is and why it is misusedby evolutionary psychologists. Then we attemptto show how the ethical implications of evolvedbehaviors can be …Read more
  •  15
    Do Noncassical Worlds Entail Dualism? (review)
    Constructivist Foundations 12 (3): 275-276. 2017.
    The vast differences between the objective, classical realm of our everyday lives and any nonclassical realm have worried researchers for almost a century. No attempt at resolving the differences or explaining them away has ever worked. Maybe there are two realms, the classical and the nonclassical, and maybe they are paradoxical.
  •  35
    Dynamical description versus dynamical modeling
    with Arthur B. Markman
    Trends in Cognitive Sciences 5 (8): 332. 2001.
  •  36
    Intentionality is a red herring
    with Chris Fields
    Behavioral and Brain Sciences 10 (4): 756. 1987.
  •  522
    After the Humans are Gone
    Philosophy Now 61 (May/June): 16-19. 2007.
    Recently, on the History Channel, artificial intelligence (AI) was singled out, with much wringing of hands, as one of the seven possible causes of the end of human life on Earth. I argue that the wringing of hands is quite inappropriate: the best thing that could happen to humans, and the rest of life of on planet Earth, would be for us to develop intelligent machines and then usher in our own extinction.
  •  463
    True contradictions are taken increasingly seriously by philosophers and logicians. Yet, the belief that contradictions are always false remains deeply intuitive. This paper confronts this belief head-on by explaining in detail how one specific contradiction is true. The contradiction in question derives from Priest's reworking of Berkeley's argument for idealism. However, technical aspects of the explanation offered here differ considerably from Priest's derivation. The explanation uses novel…Read more
  •  259
    AI and the Mechanistic Forces of Darkness
    J. Of Experimental and Theoretical AI 7 (2): 155-161. 1995.
    Under the Superstition Mountains in central Arizona toil those who would rob humankind o f its humanity. These gray, soulless monsters methodically tear away at our meaning, our subjectivity, our essence as transcendent beings. With each advance, they steal our freedom and dignity. Who are these denizens of darkness, these usurpers of all that is good and holy? None other than humanity’s arch-foe: The Cognitive Scientists -- AI researchers, fallen philosophers, psychologists, and other benighted…Read more
  •  219
    There is a prevalent notion among cognitive scientists and philosophers of mind that computers are merely formal symbol manipulators, performing the actions they do solely on the basis of the syntactic properties of the symbols they manipulate. This view of computers has allowed some philosophers to divorce semantics from computational explanations. Semantic content, then, becomes something one adds to computational explanations to get psychological explanations. Other philosophers, such as Step…Read more
  •  56
    Subvert the Dominant Paradigm!
    with Jerry DeJohn
    J. Of Experimental and Theoretical AI 15 (4): 375-382. 2003.
    We again press the case for computationalism by considering the latest in illconceived attacks on this foundational idea. We briefly but clearly define and delimit computationalism and then consider three authors from a new anticomputationalist collection.
  •  395
    Flipping convention on its head, Eric Dietrich argues that science uncovers awe-inspiring, enduring mysteries, while religion, regarded as the source for such mysteries, is a biological phenomenon. Just like spoken language, Dietrich shows that religion is an evolutionary adaptation. Science is the source of perplexing yet beautiful mysteries, however natural the search for answers may be to human existence. _Excellent Beauty_ undoes our misconception of scientific inquiry as an executioner of b…Read more
  •  559
    I find it interesting that AI researchers don't use concepts very often in their theorizing. No doubt they feel no pressure to. This is because most AI researchers do use representations which allow a system to chunk up its environment, and basically all we know about concepts is that they are representations which allow a system to chunk up its environment.
  •  41
    Under the Superstition Mountains in central Arizona toil those who would rob humankind of its humanity. These gray, soulless monsters methodically tear away at our meaning, our subjectivity, our essence as transcendent beings. With each advance, they steal our freedom and dignity. Who are these denizens of darkness, these usurpers of all that is good and holy? None other than humanity’s arch-foe: The Cognitive Scientists -- AI researchers, fallen philosophers, psychologists, and other benighted …Read more
  •  312
    The Prepared Mind: The Role of Representational Change in Chance Discovery
    with Arthur B. Markman and Michael Winkley
    In Yukio Ohsawa Peter McBurney (ed.), Chance Discovery by Machines, Springer-verlag, Pp. 208-230.. 2003.
    Analogical reminding in humans and machines is a great source for chance discoveries because analogical reminding can produce representational change and thereby produce insights. Here, we present a new kind of representational change associated with analogical reminding called packing. We derived the algorithm in part from human data we have on packing. Here, we explain packing and its role in analogy making, and then present a computer model of packing in a micro-domain. We conclude that packi…Read more
  •  563
    Analogical insight: toward unifying categorization and analogy.
    Cognitive Processing 11 (4): 331-. 2010.
    The purpose of this paper is to present two kinds of analogical representational change, both occurring early in the analogy-making process, and then, using these two kinds of change, to present a model unifying one sort of analogy-making and categorization. The proposed unification rests on three key claims: (1) a certain type of rapid representational abstraction is crucial to making the relevant analogies (this is the first kind of representational change; a computer model is presented that d…Read more
  •  598
    Understanding humans requires viewing them as mechanisms of some sort, since understanding anything requires seeing it as a mechanism. It is science’s job to reveal mechanisms. But science reveals much more than that: it also reveals enduring mystery—strangeness in the proportion. Concentrating just on the scientific side of Selinger’s and Engström’s call for a moratorium on cyborg discourse, I argue that this strangeness prevents cyborg discourse from diminishing us.
  •  1124
    Sometimes analogy researchers talk as if the freshness of an experience of analogy resides solely in seeing that something is like something else -- seeing that the atom is like a solar system, that heat is like flowing water, that paint brushes work like pumps, or that electricity is like a teeming crowd. But analogy is more than this. Analogy isn't just seeing that the atom is like a solar system; rather, it is seeing something new about the atom, an observation enabled by 'looking' at atoms f…Read more
  •  238
    On the inappropriate use of the naturalistic fallacy in evolutionary psychology
    with Anne B. Clark and David Sloan Wilson
    Biology and Philosophy 18 (5): 669-81. 2003.
      The naturalistic fallacy is mentionedfrequently by evolutionary psychologists as anerroneous way of thinking about the ethicalimplications of evolved behaviors. However,evolutionary psychologists are themselvesconfused about the naturalistic fallacy and useit inappropriately to forestall legitimateethical discussion. We briefly review what thenaturalistic fallacy is and why it is misusedby evolutionary psychologists. Then we attemptto show how the ethical implications of evolvedbehaviors can b…Read more
  •  11
    Objections to AI and computational cognitive science are myriad. Accordingly, there are many different reasons for these attacks. But all of them come down to one simple observation: humans seem a lot smarter that computers -- not just smarter as in Einstein was smarter than I, or I am smarter than a chimpanzee, but more like I am smarter than a pencil sharpener. To many, computation seems like the wrong paradigm for studying the mind. (Actually, I think there are deeper and darker reasons why A…Read more
  •  593
    Whither structured representation?
    with Arthur B. Markman
    Behavioral and Brain Sciences 22 (4): 626-627. 1999.
    The perceptual symbol system view assumes that perceptual representations have a role-argument structure. A role-argument structure is often incorporated into amodal symbol systems in order to explain conceptual functions like abstraction and rule use. The power of perceptual symbol systems to support conceptual functions is likewise rooted in its use of structure. On Barsalou's account, this capacity to use structure (in the form of frames) must be innate.
  •  662
    Discrete thoughts: Why cognition must use discrete representations
    with Arthur B. Markman
    Mind and Language 18 (1): 95-119. 2003.
    Advocates of dynamic systems have suggested that higher mental processes are based on continuous representations. In order to evaluate this claim, we first define the concept of representation, and rigorously distinguish between discrete representations and continuous representations. We also explore two important bases of representational content. Then, we present seven arguments that discrete representations are necessary for any system that must discriminate between two or more states. It…Read more
  •  481
    It Does So: Review of Jerry Fodor, The Mind Doesn't Work That Way (review)
    AI Magazine 22 (4): 121-24. 2001.
    Objections to AI and computational cognitive science are myriad. Accordingly, there are many different reasons for these attacks. But all of them come down to one simple observation: humans seem a lot smarter that computers -- not just smarter as in Einstein was smarter than I, or I am smarter than a chimpanzee, but more like I am smarter than a pencil sharpener. To many, computation seems like the wrong paradigm for studying the mind. (Actually, I think there are deeper and darker reasons why A…Read more