•  146
    Imperative Transparency
    Mind. forthcoming.
    I respond to an objection recently formulated by Barlassina and Hayward against first-order imperativism about pain, according to which it cannot account for the self-directed motivational force of pain. I am going to agree with them: it cannot. This is because pain does not have self-directed motivational force. I will argue that the alternative view (that pain is about dealing with extramental, bodily threats; not about dealing with itself) makes better sense of introspection, and of empirical…Read more
  •  133
    Neural Oscillations as Representations
    British Journal for the Philosophy of Science. forthcoming.
    We explore the contribution made by oscillatory, synchronous neural activity to representation in the brain. We closely examine six prominent examples of brain function in which neural oscillations play a central role, and identify two levels of involvement that these oscillations take in the emergence of representations: enabling (when oscillations help to establish a communication channel between sender and receiver, or are causally involved in triggering a representation) and properly represe…Read more
  •  100
    Real patterns and indispensability
    Synthese. forthcoming.
    While scientific inquiry crucially relies on the extraction of patterns from data, we still have a very imperfect understanding of the metaphysics of patterns—and, in particular, of what it is that makes a pattern real. In this paper we derive a criterion of real-patternhood from the notion of conditional Kolmogorov complexity. The resulting account belongs in the philosophical tradition, initiated by Dennett, that links real-patternhood to data compressibility, but is simpler and formally more …Read more
  •  21
    The Meaning of Biological Signals
    Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 84 101348. 2020.
    We introduce the virtual special issue on content in signalling systems. The issue explores the uses and limits of ideas from evolutionary game theory and information theory for explaining the content of biological signals. We explain the basic idea of the Lewis-Skyrms sender-receiver framework, and we highlight three key themes of the issue: (i) the challenge of accounting for deception, misinformation and false content, (ii) the relevance of partial or total common interest to the evolution of…Read more
  •  133
    An important objection to signaling approaches to representation is that, if signaling behavior is driven by the maximization of usefulness, then signals will typically carry much more information about agent-dependent usefulness than about objective features of the world. This sort of considerations are sometimes taken to provide support for an anti-realist stance on representation itself. The author examines the game-theoretic version of this skeptical line of argument developed by Donald Hoff…Read more
  •  32
    Deception as cooperation
    Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 77 101184. 2019.
    I develop a rate-distortion analysis of signaling games with imperfect common interest. Sender and receiver should be seen as jointly managing a communication channel with the objective of minimizing two independent distortion measures. I use this analysis to identify a problem with 'functional' theories of deception, and in particular Brian Skyrms's: there are perfectly cooperative, non-exploitative instances of channel management that come out as manipulative and deceptive according to those t…Read more
  •  48
    Representations are Rate-Distortion Sweet Spots
    Philosophy of Science 86 (5): 1214-1226. 2019.
    Information is widely perceived as essential to the study of communication and representation; still, theorists working on these topics often take themselves not to be centrally concerned with "Shannon information", as it is often put, but with some other, sometimes called "semantic" or "nonnatural",kind of information. This perception is wrong. Shannon's theory of information is the only one we need. I intend to make good on this last assertion by canvassing a fully (Shannon) informational answ…Read more
  •  52
    Synergic kinds
    Synthese 197 (5): 1931-1946. 2020.
    According to the homeostatic property cluster family of accounts, one of the main conditions for groups of properties to count as natural is that these properties be frequently co-instantiated. I argue that this condition is, in fact, not necessary for natural-kindness. Furthermore, even when it is present, the focus on co-occurrence distorts the role natural kinds play in science. Co-occurrence corresponds to what information theorists call redundancy: observing the presence of some of the prop…Read more
  •  202
    Travelling in Branching Time
    Disputatio 4 (31): 59-75. 2011.
    Miller (2005) and Miller (2008) argue that the branching picture of time is incompatible with the possibility of backwards time travel. In this paper I show that Miller’s conclusion is based on a hidden assumption which, while generally plausible, is unwarranted if time travel is possible. Branching time is, after all, compatible with time travel as Miller characterises it.
  •  300
    The debate on the notion of function has been historically dominated by dispositional and etiological accounts, but recently a third contender has gained prominence: the organizational account. This original theory of function is intended to offer an alternative account based on the notion of self-maintaining system. However, there is a set of cases where organizational accounts seem to generate counterintuitive results. These cases involve cross-generational traits, that is, traits that do not …Read more
  •  774
    Ideal Negative Conceivability and the Halting Problem
    Erkenntnis 78 (5): 979-990. 2013.
    Our limited a priori-reasoning skills open a gap between our finding a proposition conceivable and its metaphysical possibility. A prominent strategy for closing this gap is the postulation of ideal conceivers, who suffer from no such limitations. In this paper I argue that, under many, maybe all, plausible unpackings of the notion of ideal conceiver, it is false that ideal negative conceivability entails possibility
  •  293
    Modalizing Mechanisms
    Journal of Philosophy 112 (12): 658-670. 2015.
    It is widely held that it is unhelpful to model our epistemic access to modal facts on the basis of perception, and postulate the existence of a bodily mechanism attuned to modal features of the world. In this paper I defend modalizing mechanisms. I present and discuss a decision-theoretic model in which agents with severely limited cognitive abilities, at the end of an evolutionary process, have states which encode substantial information about the probabilities with which the outcomes of a cer…Read more
  •  12
    Review of Truly Understood (review)
    Disputatio 3 (26): 117-125. 2009.
  •  254
    Imperativism and Pain Intensity
    In David Bain, Michael Brady & Jennifer Corns (eds.), Philosophy of Pain: Unpleasantness, Emotion, and Deviance, Routledge. pp. 13-26. 2018.
  •  106
    Informationally-connected property clusters, and polymorphism
    Biology and Philosophy 30 (1): 99-117. 2015.
    I present and defend a novel version of the homeostatic property cluster account of natural kinds. The core of the proposal is a development of the notion of co-occurrence, central to the HPC account, along information-theoretic lines. The resulting theory retains all the appealing features of the original formulation, while increasing its explanatory power, and formal perspicuity. I showcase the theory by applying it to the problem of reconciling the thesis that biological species are natural k…Read more
  •  513
    Pain signals are predominantly imperative
    Biology and Philosophy 31 (2): 283-298. 2016.
    Recent work on signaling has mostly focused on communication between organisms. The Lewis–Skyrms framework should be equally applicable to intra-organismic signaling. We present a Lewis–Skyrms signaling-game model of painful signaling, and use it to argue that the content of pain is predominantly imperative. We address several objections to the account, concluding that our model gives a productive framework within which to consider internal signaling
  •  176
    Deception in Sender–Receiver Games
    Erkenntnis 80 (1): 215-227. 2015.
    Godfrey-Smith advocates for linking deception in sender-receiver games to the existence of undermining signals. I present games in which deceptive signals can be arbitrarily frequent, without this undermining information transfer between sender and receiver
  •  617
    Common Interest and Signaling Games: A Dynamic Analysis
    Philosophy of Science 83 (3): 371-392. 2016.
    We present a dynamic model of the evolution of communication in a Lewis signaling game while systematically varying the degree of common interest between sender and receiver. We show that the level of common interest between sender and receiver is strongly predictive of the amount of information transferred between them. We also discuss a set of rare but interesting cases in which common interest is almost entirely absent, yet substantial information transfer persists in a *cheap talk* regime, a…Read more
  •  15
    La" P" de PANIC: representacionalismo y fenomenología del dolor
    Teorema: International Journal of Philosophy 27 (3): 181-195. 2008.
  •  538
    Teleosemantics and Indeterminacy
    Dialectica 67 (4): 427-453. 2013.
    In the first part of the paper, I present a framework for the description and evaluation of teleosemantic theories of intentionality, and use it to argue that several different objections to these theories (the various indeterminacy and adequacy problems) are, in a certain precise sense, manifestations of the same underlying issue. I then use the framework to show that Millikan's biosemantics, her own recent declarations to the contrary notwithtanding, presents indeterminacy. In the second part,…Read more
  •  279
    Teleosemantics and productivity
    Philosophical Psychology 26 (1): 47-68. 2013.
    There has been much discussion of so-called teleosemantic approaches to the naturalization of content. Such discussion, though, has been largely confined to simple, innate mental states with contents such as ?There is a fly here.? Even assuming we can solve the issues that crop up at this stage, an account of the content of human mental states will not get too far without an account of productivity: the ability to entertain indefinitely many thoughts. The best-known teleosemantic theory, Millika…Read more
  •  212
    Imperative content and the painfulness of pain
    Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 10 (1): 67-90. 2011.
    Representationalist theories of phenomenal consciousness have problems in accounting for pain, for at least two reasons. First of all, the negative affective phenomenology of pain (its painfulness) does not seem to be representational at all. Secondly, pain experiences are not transparent to introspection in the way perceptions are. This is reflected, e.g. in the fact that we do not acknowledge pain hallucinations. In this paper, I defend that representationalism has the potential to overcome th…Read more
  •  119
    Disgusting Smells and Imperativism
    Journal of Consciousness Studies 22 (5-6): 191-200. 2015.
    I sketch and defend an imperativist treatment of the phenomenology associated with disgusting smells. This treatment, I argue, allows us to make better sense than other intentionalist alter-natives both of the neuroanatomy of olfaction, and of a natural pre-theoretical stance regarding the sense of smell.
  •  286
    Pains as reasons
    Philosophical Studies 172 (9): 2261-2274. 2015.
    Imperativism is the view that the phenomenal character of the affective component of pains, orgasms, and pleasant or unpleasant sensory experience depends on their imperative intentional content. In this paper I canvass an imperativist treatment of pains as reason-conferring states