•  96
    A system is autonomous if it uses its own information to modify itself and its environment to enhance its survival, responding to both environmental and internal stimuli to modify its basic functions to increase its viability. Autonomy is the foundation of functionality, intentionality and meaning. Autonomous systems accommodate the unexpected through self-organizing processes, together with some constraints that maintain autonomy. Early versions of autonomy, such as autopoiesis and closure to e…Read more
  •  131
    Two Faces of Maxwell's Demon Reveal the Nature of Irreversibility
    Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 21 (2): 257. 1990.
    demon thought experiment remains ambiguous even today. One of the most delightful thought It seems that Maxwell originally invoked experiments in the history of physical science is..
  •  3
    How Not to Defend Metaphysical Realism
    Southwest Philosophy Review 3 19-27. 1986.
  •  1
    Tachyons and Causal Theories of Space-Time
    Philosophie Et Culture: Actes du XVIIe Congrès Mondial de Philosophie 3 155-159. 1988.
  •  12
    Critical Notice
    Canadian Journal of Philosophy 21 (2): 195-210. 1991.
  • Paul Thompson, The Structure of Biological Theories (review)
    Philosophy in Review 10 163-165. 1990.
  • Paul Humphreys, The Chances of Explanation (review)
    Philosophy in Review 11 257-259. 1991.
  •  7
    Critical notice of Richard Alexander, the biology of moral systems
    Canadian Journal of Philosophy 21 (2): 73-88. 1991.
  •  28
    Pragmatic Incommensurability
    PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1984. 1984.
    Kuhn's incommensurability thesis has generally been interpreted by friends and foes alike so as to preclude direct rational communication across revolutionary divides in science. In this paper, a weaker form of incommensurability is sketched which allows eventual comparison of incommensurable theories, but is consistent with Kuhn's model of science. Incommensurability occurs whenever the knowledge or ability to translate from the language of one theory to that of another is lacking. It can be re…Read more
  •  33
    Goodman’s account of the ‘grue’ paradox stands at a crossroads in the history of twentieth century epistemology. Published in 1954, Fact, Fiction, and Forecast is a reaction to the logical empiricist views that held sway in the first half of the last century and anticipates many of the conventionalist and/or relativist moves popular throughout the second half. Through his evaluation of Hume’s problem of induction, as well as his own novel reformulation of it, Goodman comes to reject a number of …Read more
  •  63
    Distributed Cognition is a hybrid approach to studying all aspects of cognition, from a cognitive, social and organisational perspective. The most well known level of analysis is to account for complex socially distributed cognitive activities, of which a diversity of technological artefacts and other tools and representations are an indispensable part.
  •  7
    In these notes I want to address some issues concerning self-organization that seem to me to apply generally from the micro-physical through the biological and social to the cosmological. That is, they are a part of the general theory of self-organization. I prefer to distinguish the theory of selforganization from the analysis of the concept of self-organization (which Maturana claims is oxymoronic, since there is no self that organizes1). General usage gives us something to which the term 'sel…Read more
  •  1
    Typically, we think of both artificial and natural computing devices as following rules that allow them to alter their behaviour (output) according to their environment (input). This approach works well when the environment and goals are well defined and regular. However, 1) the search time for appropriate solutions quickly becomes intractable when the input is not fairly regular, and 2) responses may be required that are not computable, either in principle, or given the computational resources …Read more
  •  17
    Wilfrid Sellars described his Manifest Image and Scientific Image as idealizations of our common sense and scientific views of the world, including our own special role in the world as humans. If, as Sellars suggested, there is an irreconcilable conflict between these images, it may not be possible to reconcile science with common sense. The Scientific Image, as we have inherited it, has a strong reductionist element that seems to imply that things are not really as they appear to common sense. …Read more
  •  84
    Complex systems are dynamic and may show high levels of variability in both space and time. It is often difficult to decide on what constitutes a given complex system, i.e., where system boundaries should be set, and what amounts to substantial change within the system. We discuss two central themes: the nature of system definitions and their ability to cope with change, and the importance of system definitions for the mental metamodels that we use to describe and order ideas about system change…Read more
  •  20
    Out of equilibrium: New approaches to biological and social change (review)
    Biology and Philosophy 8 (4): 445-455. 1993.
  •  100
    We argue that living systems process information such that functionality emerges in them on a continuous basis. We then provide a framework that can explain and model the normativity of biological functionality. In addition we offer an explanation of the anticipatory nature of functionality within our overall approach. We adopt a Peircean approach to Biosemiotics, and a dynamical approach to Digital-Analog relations and to the interplay between different levels of functionality in autonomous sys…Read more
  •  10
    Function refers to a broad family of concepts of varying abstractness and range of application, from a many-one mathematical relation of great generality to, for example, highly specialized roles of designed elements in complex machines such as degaussing in a television set, or contributory processes to control mechanisms in complex metabolic pathways, such as the inhibitory function of the appropriate part of the lac-operon on the production of lactase through its action on the genome in the a…Read more
  •  11
    Causation can be understood as a computational process once we understand causation in informational terms. I argue that if we see processes as information channels, then causal processes are most readily interpreted as the transfer of information from one state to another. This directly implies that the later state is a computation from the earlier state, given causal laws, which can also be interpreted computationally. This approach unifies the ideas of causation and computation
  •  62
    Since the origins of the notion of emergence in attempts to recover the content of vitalistic anti-reductionism without its questionable metaphysics, emergence has been treated in terms of logical properties. This approach was doomed to failure, because logical properties are either sui generis or they are constructions from other logical properties. If the former, they do not explain on their own and are inevitably somewhat arbitrary (the problem with the related concept of supervenience, Colli…Read more
  •  167
    Evolutionary Moral Realism
    Biological Theory 7 (3): 218-226. 2013.
    Evolutionary moral realism is the view that there are moral values with roots in evolution that are both specifically moral and exist independently of human belief systems. In beginning to sketch the outlines of such a view, we examine moral goods like fairness and empathetic caring as valuable and real aspects of the environments of species that are intelligent and social, or at least developing along an evolutionary trajectory that could lead to a level of intelligence that would enable indivi…Read more
  •  6
    Critical Notice
    Canadian Journal of Philosophy 17 (4): 881-893. 1987.
  •  70
    Reduction, supervenience, and physical emergence
    Behavioral and Brain Sciences 27 (5): 629-630. 2004.
    After distinguishing reductive explanability in principle from ontological deflation, I give a case of an obviously physical property that is reductively inexplicable in principle. I argue that biological systems often have this character, and that, if we make certain assumptions about the cohesion and dynamics of the mind and its physical substrate, then it is emergent according to Broad's criteria.
  •  14
    A dynamical approach to ecosystem identity
    with Graeme Cumming
    In Kevin deLaplante, Bryson Brown & Kent A. Peacock (eds.), Philosophy of Ecology, North-holland. pp. 11--201. 2011.
  •  13
    Complexly organized systems include biological and cognitive systems, as well as many of the everyday systems that form our environment. They are both common and important, but are not well understood. A complex system is, roughly, one that cannot be fully understood via analytic methods alone. An organized system is one that shows spatio-temporal correlations that are not determined by purely local conditions, though organization can be more or less localizable within a system. Organization and…Read more
  •  4
    We find symmetry attractive. It interests us. Symmetry is often an indicator of the deep structure of things, whether they be natural phenomena, or the creations of artists. For example, the most fundamental conservation laws of physics are all based in symmetry. Similarly, the symmetries found in religious art throughout the world are intended to draw attention to deep spiritual truths. Not only do we find symmetry pleasing, but its discovery is often also surprising and illuminating as well. F…Read more