•  140
    Psychological Laws (Revisited)
    Erkenntnis 73 (1). 2010.
    It has been suggested that a functionalist understanding of the metaphysics of psychological typing eliminates the prospect for psychological laws. Kim, Millikan, and Shapiro have each separately argued that, if psychological types as functional types are multiply realized, then the diversity of realizing mechanisms demonstrates that there can be no laws of psychology. Additionally, Millikan has argued that the role of functional attribution in the explanation of historical kinds limits the form…Read more
  •  112
    Normativity without artifice
    Philosophical Studies 144 (2): 239-259. 2009.
    To ascribe a telos is to ascribe a norm or standard of performance. That fact underwrites the plausibility of, say, teleological theories of mind. Teleosemantics, for example, relies on the normative character of teleology to solve the problem of “intentional inexistence”: a misrepresentation is just a malfunction. If the teleological ascriptions of such theories to natural systems, e.g., the neurological structures of the brain, are to be literally true, then it must be literally true that norm…Read more
  •  74
    Normative Characterization in Biological and Cognitive Explanations
    Theoria: Revista de Teoría, Historia y Fundamentos de la Ciencia 30 (2): 271-286. 2015.
    Normative characterization is a commonplace feature of biological and cognitive explanation. Such language seems to commit the biological and cognitive sciences to the existence of natural norms, but it is also difficult to understand how such normativity fits into a natural world of physical causes and forces. I propose to map normativity onto systems stabilized by counteractive constraints. Such a mapping, I believe, can explain normativity’s causal-explanatory role in biological and cognitive…Read more
  •  73
    Multiple Realizability, Constraints, and Identity
    Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 94 (4): 446-464. 2013.
    Shapiro has suggested that the empirical plausibility of the multiple realizability of human-like minds is dubious, because a contrary thesis, the Mental Constraint Thesis, enjoys positive empirical evidence. The Mental Constraint Thesis states that, given the actual physical laws, there is only one way to realize a human-like mind. I will suggest, however, that the Mental Constraint Thesis is not a contrary to the empirical multiple realizability thesis relevant to psychological reduction or au…Read more
  •  55
    Multiple Realizability as Compatible with the Mental Constraint Thesis
    Southwest Philosophy Review 27 (1): 119-127. 2011.
    Shapiro has argued that the multiple realizability thesis for psychology, despite its broad acceptance, is far from being a well-established thesis. He suggests that not only do many of the standard examples of multiple realizability fail to be clearly examples but a competing thesis (“the mental constraint thesis”) that human-like minds are severely constrained in their physical realization is the more likely thesis. I will argue, however, that Shapiro’s mental constraint thesis is not a compet…Read more
  •  35
    Ahistorical Teleosemantics: An Alternative to Nanay
    Southern Journal of Philosophy 55 (2): 158-176. 2017.
    The dominant view in teleosemantics is that semantic functions are historically determined. That reliance on history has been subject to repeated criticism. To sidestep such criticisms, Nanay has recently offered an ahistorical alternative that swaps out historical properties for modal properties. Nanay's ahistorical modal alternative suffers, I think, serious problems of its own. I suggest here another ahistorical alternative for teleosemantics. The motivation for both the historical view and N…Read more
  •  20
    The explanatory breadth of pushmi-pullyu representations
    Biology and Philosophy 35 (3): 1-23. 2020.
    The pushmi-pullyu representation is a non-conjunctive representation with both descriptive and directive contents. Introduced by Millikan, the PPR is supposed to aid in explaining how organisms adapt behavior to environmental variance in the absence of intermediate inference. Until recently, it has led an uncontroversial theoretical life. However, Artiga has suggested that the PPR postulate conflicts with Millikan-style teleosemantics and, as a consequence, the PPR postulate should probably be s…Read more
  •  15
    Meanings of self-attributed ignorance: an introduction to the Symposium
    with Hélène Joffe
    Social Science Information 35 (1): 5-13. 1996.
    With the increasing specialization of the knowledge society, knowledge in some areas means ignorance in others, which amounts to the knowledge-ignorance paradox. In the debate on public understanding of science the status of “ignorance” is controversial. How is scientific ignorance distributed by age, education, religion, social category or gender? We attempt to answer this and other questions by analysing “Don't Know”-responses in a European-wide survey as a measure of self-attributed ignorance…Read more
  •  12
    Semantic Essentialism and Populations
    Southwest Philosophy Review 35 (1): 59-68. 2019.
    A core feature of teleosemantic proposals has been to rely on selective history to justify semantic functional classification. Recently, Nanay and Bauer have offered ahistorical teleosemantic proposals intended to bypass the numerous criticisms arising from the dependence on history. However, part of the attraction of the traditional reliance on history is that it seemingly allowed teleosemantics to mesh with biological practice. For example, Millikan, a key advocate for the selective historical…Read more
  •  10
    Nonfunctional Semantics in Plant Signaling
    Southwest Philosophy Review 34 (1): 199-208. 2018.
    Teleosemantics is the view that semantic classification is a species of functional classification. While it is plausible, I think, that there are semantic functions in the natural world, I want to suggest that not all semantic states are functional. An assumption commonly endorsed by the teleosemantist is that there is a distinction between accidental or incidental contributory effects and functions. However, endorsing that distinction, I will suggest, implies the theoretical possibility of nonf…Read more
  •  8
    Normative Characterization in Empirical Explanation
    Theoria: Revista de Teoría, Historia y Fundamentos de la Ciencia 30 (2): 271. 2015.
    Normative characterization is a commonplace feature of biological and cognitive explanation. Such language seems to commit the biological and cognitive sciences to the existence of natural norms, but it is also difficult to understand how such normativity fits into a natural world of physical causes and forces. I propose to map normativity onto systems stabilized by counteractive constraints. Such a mapping, I believe, can explain normativity's causal-explanatory role in biological and cognitive…Read more