•  2701
    There Is No Progress in Philosophy
    Essays in Philosophy 12 (2): 9. 2011.
    Except for a patina of twenty-first century modernity, in the form of logic and language, philosophy is exactly the same now as it ever was; it has made no progress whatsoever. We philosophers wrestle with the exact same problems the Pre-Socratics wrestled with. Even more outrageous than this claim, though, is the blatant denial of its obvious truth by many practicing philosophers. The No-Progress view is explored and argued for here. Its denial is diagnosed as a form of anosognosia, a mental co…Read more
  •  2298
    The Allure of the Serial Killer
    with Tara Fox Hall
    In Sara Waller (ed.), Serial Killers and Philosophy, John Wiley. 2010.
    What is it about serial killers that grips our imaginations? They populate some of our most important literature and art, and to this day, Jack the Ripper intrigues us. In this paper, we examine this phenomenon, exploring the idea that serial killers in part represent something in us that, if not good, is at least admirable. To get at this, we have to peel off layers of other causes of our attraction, for our attraction to serial killing is complex (it mixes with repulsion, too). For examp…Read more
  •  1480
    Homo sapiens 2.0 Why we should build the better robots of our nature
    In M. Anderson S. Anderson (ed.), Machine Ethics, Cambridge Univ. Press. 2011.
    It is possible to survey humankind and be proud, even to smile, for we accomplish great things. Art and science are two notable worthy human accomplishments. Consonant with art and science are some of the ways we treat each other. Sacrifice and heroism are two admirable human qualities that pervade human interaction. But, as everyone knows, all this goodness is more than balanced by human depravity. Moral corruption infests our being. Why?
  •  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
  •  862
    Role of the Frame Problem in Fodor's Modularity Thesis
    with Chris Fields
    In Ken Ford & Zenon Pylyshyn (eds.), The Robot's Dilemma Revisited, . 1996.
    It is shown that the Fodor's interpretation of the frame problem is the central indication that his version of the Modularity Thesis is incompatible with computationalism. Since computationalism is far more plausible than this thesis, the latter should be rejected.
  •  741
    The Paradox of Consciousness and the Realism/Anti-Realism Debate
    with Julietta Rose
    Logos Architekton 3 (1): 7-37. 2009.
    Beginning with the paradoxes of zombie twins, we present an argument that dualism is both true and false. We show that avoiding this contradiction is impossible. Our diagnosis is that consciousness itself engenders this contradiction by producing contradictory points of view. This result has a large effect on the realism/anti-realism debate, namely, it suggests that this debate is intractable, and furthermore, it explains why this debate is intractable. We close with some comments on what our re…Read more
  •  666
    Explanatory pluralism in cognitive science
    with Rick Dale and Anthony Chemero
    Cognitive Science 33 (2): 739-742. 2009.
    This brief commentary has three goals. The first is to argue that ‘‘framework debate’’ in cognitive science is unresolvable. The idea that one theory or framework can singly account for the vast complexity and variety of cognitive processes seems unlikely if not impossible. The second goal is a consequence of this: We should consider how the various theories on offer work together in diverse contexts of investigation. A final goal is to supply a brief review for readers who are compelled by thes…Read more
  •  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
  •  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.
  •  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.
  •  573
    In defense of representation
    with Arthur B. Markman
    Cognitive Psychology 40 (2): 138--171. 2000.
    The computational paradigm, which has dominated psychology and artificial intelligence since the cognitive revolution, has been a source of intense debate. Recently, several cognitive scientists have argued against this paradigm, not by objecting to computation, but rather by objecting to the notion of representation. Our analysis of these objections reveals that it is not the notion of representation per se that is causing the problem, but rather specific properties of representations as they a…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
  •  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.
  •  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.
  •  484
    Science Generates Limit Paradoxes
    with Chris Fields
    Axiomathes 25 (4): 409-432. 2015.
    The sciences occasionally generate discoveries that undermine their own assumptions. Two such discoveries are characterized here: the discovery of apophenia by cognitive psychology and the discovery that physical systems cannot be locally bounded within quantum theory. It is shown that such discoveries have a common structure and that this common structure is an instance of Priest’s well-known Inclosure Schema. This demonstrates that science itself is dialetheic: it generates limit paradoxes. Ho…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
  •  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
  •  461
    Let's dance! The equivocation in Chalmers' dancing qualia argument
    with B. van Heuveln and M. Oshima
    Minds and Machines 8 (2): 237-249. 1998.
    David Chalmers' dancing qualia argument is intended to show that phenomenal experiences, or qualia, are organizational invariants. The dancing qualia argument is a reductio ad absurdum, attempting to demonstrate that holding an alternative position, such as the famous inverted spectrum argument, leads one to an implausible position about the relation between consciousness and cognition. In this paper, we argue that Chalmers' dancing qualia argument fails to establish the plausibility of qualia b…Read more
  •  438
    Review of David Chalmers, The Conscious Mind (review)
    Minds and Machines 8 (3): 441-461. 1998.
    When Charles Darwin died in April, 1882, he left behind a world changed forever. Because of his writings, most notably, of course, The Origin of Species, by 1882, evolution was an almost universally acknowledged fact. What remained in dispute, however, was how evolution occurred. So because of Darwin’s work, everyone accepted that new species emerge over time, yet few agreed with him that it was natural selection that powered the change, as Darwin hypothesized. Chalmers’ book, The Conscious Mind…Read more
  •  412
    Mostly philosophers cause trouble. I know because on alternate Thursdays I am one -- and I live in a philosophy department where I watch all of them cause trouble. Everyone in artificial intelligence knows how much trouble philosophers can cause (and in particular, we know how much trouble one philosopher -- John Searle -- has caused). And, we know where they tend to cause it: in knowledge representation and the semantics of data structures. This essay is about a recent case of this sort of thin…Read more
  •  411
    Subvert the dominant paradigm!
    J. Of Experimental and Theoretical AI. 2002.
    We again press the case for computationalism by considering the latest in ill- conceived attacks on this foundational idea. We briefly but clearly define and delimit computationalism and then consider three authors from a new anti- computationalist 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
  •  346
    Good sciences have good metaphors. Indeed, good sciences are good because they have good metaphors. AI could use more good metaphors. In this editorial, I would like to propose a new metaphor to help us understand intelligence. Of course, whether the metaphor is any good or not depends on whether it actually does help us. (What I am going to propose is not something opposed to computationalism -- the hypothesis that cognition is computation. Noncomputational metaphors are in vogue these days, an…Read more
  •  314
    A Counterexample t o All Future Dynamic Systems Theories of Cognition
    J. Of Experimental and Theoretical AI 12 (2): 377-382. 2000.
    Years ago, when I was an undergraduate math major at the University of Wyoming, I came across an interesting book in our library. It was a book of counterexamples t o propositions in real analysis (the mathematics of the real numbers). Mathematicians work more or less like the rest of us. They consider propositions. If one seems to them to be plausibly true, then they set about to prove it, to establish the proposition as a theorem. Instead o f setting out to prove propositions, the psychologist…Read more
  •  313
    Banbury Bound, or Can a machine be conscious?
    J. Of Experimental and Theoretical AI 13 (2): 177-180. 2001.
    In mid-May of 2001, I attended a fascinating workshop at Cold Spring Harbor Labs. The conference was held at the lab's Banbury Center, an elegant mansion and its beautiful surrounding estate, located on Banbury Lane, in the outskirts of Lloyd Harbor, overlooking the north shore of Long Island in New York. The estate was formerly owned by Charles Sammis Robertson. In 1976, Robertson donated his estate, and an endowment for its upkeep, to the Lab. The donation included the Robertson's mansion, now…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
  •  279
    Social Epistemology 4 (2): 135-154. 1990.
    This paper argues for a noncognitiveist computationalism in the philosophy of mind. It further argues that both humans and computers have intentionality, that is, their mental states are semantical -- they are about things in their worlds.
  •  272
    Dynamic Systems and Paradise Regained, or How to avoid being a calculator (review)
    J. Of Experimental and Theoretical AI 11 (4): 473-478. 1999.
    The new kid on the block in cognitive science these days is dynamic systems. This way of thinking about the mind is, as usual, radically opposed to computationalism - - the hypothesis that thinking is computing. The use of dynamic systems is just the latest in a series of attempts, from Searle's Chinese Room Argument, through the weirdnesses of postmodernism, to overthrown computationalism, which as we all know is a perfectly nice hypothesis about the mind that never hurt anyone.
  •  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