•  938
    We review some of the main implications of the free-energy principle (FEP) for the study of the self-organization of living systems – and how the FEP can help us to understand (and model) biotic self-organization across the many temporal and spatial scales over which life exists. In order to maintain its integrity as a bounded system, any biological system - from single cells to complex organisms and societies - has to limit the disorder or dispersion (i.e., the long-run entropy) of its constitu…Read more
  •  359
    A New, Better BET: Rescuing and Revising Basic Emotion Theory
    with Daniel D. Hutto and Ian Robertson
    Frontiers in Psychology 9 1-12. 2018.
    Basic Emotion Theory, or BET, has dominated the affective sciences for decades (Ekman, 1972, 1992, 1999; Ekman and Davidson, 1994; Griffiths, 2013; Scarantino and Griffiths, 2011). It has been highly influential, driving a number of empirical lines of research (e.g., in the context of facial expression detection, neuroimaging studies and evolutionary psychology). Nevertheless, BET has been criticized by philosophers, leading to calls for it to be jettisoned entirely (Colombetti, 2014; Hufendiek,…Read more
  •  274
    Breaking explanatory boundaries: flexible borders and plastic minds
    Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 1-20. forthcoming.
    In this paper, we offer reasons to justify the explanatory credentials of dynamical modeling in the context of the metaplasticity thesis, located within a larger grouping of views known as 4E Cognition. Our focus is on showing that dynamicism is consistent with interventionism, and therefore with a difference-making account at the scale of system topologies that makes sui generis explanatory differences to the overall behavior of a cognitive system. In so doing, we provide a general overview of …Read more
  •  259
    This paper considers questions about continuity and discontinuity between life and mind. It begins by examining such questions from the perspective of the free energy principle (FEP). The FEP is becoming increasingly influential in neuroscience and cognitive science. It says that organisms act to maintain themselves in their expected biological and cognitive states, and that they can do so only by minimizing their free energy given that the long-term average of free energy is entropy. The paper …Read more
  •  217
    The Markov blankets of life: autonomy, active inference and the free energy principle
    Journal of the Royal Society Interface 15 (138). 2018.
    This work addresses the autonomous organization of biological systems. It does so by considering the boundaries of biological systems, from individual cells to Home sapiens, in terms of the presence of Markov blankets under the active inference scheme—a corollary of the free energy principle. A Markov blanket defines the boundaries of a system in a statistical sense. Here we consider how a collective of Markov blankets can self-assemble into a global system that itself has a Markov blanket; ther…Read more
  •  190
    Experiential fantasies, prediction, and enactive minds
    Journal of Consciousness Studies 22 (3-4): 68-92. 2015.
    A recent surge of work on prediction-driven processing models--based on Bayesian inference and representation-heavy models--suggests that the material basis of conscious experience is inferentially secluded and neurocentrically brain bound. This paper develops an alternative account based on the free energy principle. It is argued that the free energy principle provides the right basic tools for understanding the anticipatory dynamics of the brain within a larger brain-body-environment dyna…Read more
  •  144
    In the thesis I offer an analysis of the metaphysical underpinnings of the extended cognition thesis via an examination of standard views of metaphysical building (or, dependence) relations. In summary form, the extended cognition thesis is a view put forth in naturalistic philosophy of mind stating that the physical basis of cognitive processes and cognitive processing may, in the right circumstances, be distributed across neural, bodily, and environmental vehicles. As such, the extended cognit…Read more
  •  135
    This paper examines the relationship between perceiving and imagining on the basis of predictive processing models in neuroscience. Contrary to the received view in philosophy of mind, which holds that perceiving and imagining are essentially distinct, these models depict perceiving and imagining as deeply unified and overlapping. It is argued that there are two mutually exclusive implications of taking perception and imagination to be fundamentally unified. The view defended is what I dub the e…Read more
  •  132
    Over the last fifteen years, an ambitious explanatory framework has been proposed to unify explanations across biology and cognitive science. Active inference, whose most famous tenet is the free energy principle, has inspired excitement and confusion in equal measure. Here, we lay the ground for proper critical analysis of active inference, in three ways. First, we give simplified versions of its core mathematical models. Second, we outline the historical development of active inference and its…Read more
  •  127
    Extended cognition and fixed properties: steps to a third-wave version of extended cognition (review)
    Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 11 (2): 287-308. 2012.
    This paper explores several paths a distinctive third wave of extended cognition might take. In so doing, I address a couple of shortcomings of first- and second-wave extended cognition associated with a tendency to conceive of the properties of internal and external processes as fixed and non-interchangeable. First, in the domain of cognitive transformation, I argue that a problematic tendency of the complementarity model is that it presupposes that socio-cultural resources augment but do not s…Read more
  •  124
    Philosophical accounts of the constitution relation have been explicated in terms of synchronic relations between higher‐ and lower‐level entities. Such accounts, I argue, are temporally austere or impoverished, and are consequently unable to make sense of the diachronic and dynamic character of constitution in dynamical systems generally and dynamically extended cognitive processes in particular. In this paper, my target domain is extended cognition based on insights from nonlinear dynamics. Co…Read more
  •  109
    The life–mind continuity thesis is difficult to study, especially because the relation between life and mind is not yet fully understood, and given that there is still no consensus view neither on what qualifies as life nor on what defines mind. Rather than taking up the much more difficult task of addressing the many different ways of explaining how life relates to mind, and vice versa, this paper considers two influential accounts addressing how best to understand the life–mind continuity thes…Read more
  •  101
    This paper explores several paths by which the extended cognition thesis may overcome the coupling-constitution fallacy. In so doing, I address a couple of shortcomings in the contemporary literature. First, on the dimension of first-wave EC, I argue that constitutive arguments based on functional parity suffer from either a threat of cognitive bloat or an impasse with respect to determining the correct level of grain in the attribution of causal-functional roles. Second, on the dimension of sec…Read more
  •  97
    Context: Neurophenomenology, as formulated by Varela, offers an approach to the science of consciousness that seeks to get beyond the hard problem of consciousness. There is much to admire in the practical approach to the science of consciousness that neurophenomenology advocates. Problem: Even so, this article argues, the metaphysical commitments of the enterprise require a firmer foundation. The root problem is that neurophenomenology, as classically formulated by Varela, endorses a form of no…Read more
  •  82
    Distributed Cognitive Agency in Virtue Epistemology
    with Will Newsome
    Philosophical Explorations 15 (2): 165-180. 2012.
    We examine some of the ramifications of extended cognition for virtue epistemology by exploring the idea within extended cognition that it is possible to decentralize cognitive agency such that cognitive agency includes socio-cultural practices. In doing so, we first explore the (seemingly unquestioned) assumption in both virtue epistemology and extended cognition that cognitive agency is an individualistic phenomenon. A distributed notion of cognitive agency alters the landscape of knowledge at…Read more
  •  77
    Cognitive assembly: towards a diachronic conception of composition
    Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 14 (1). 2015.
    In this paper, I focus on a recent debate in extended cognition known as “cognitive assembly” and how cognitive assembly shares a certain kinship with the special composition question advanced in analytical metaphysics. Both the debate about cognitive assembly and the special composition question ask about the circumstances under which entities (broadly construed) compose or assemble another entity. The paper argues for two points. The first point is that insofar as the metaphysics of compositio…Read more
  •  76
    Most philosophical accounts of emergence are based on supervenience, with supervenience being an ontologically synchronic relation of determination. This conception of emergence as a relation of supervenience, I will argue, is unable to make sense of the kinds of emergence that are widespread in self-organizing and nonlinear dynamical systems, including distributed cognitive systems. In these dynamical systems, an emergent property is ontological and diachronic.
  •  62
    Material Agency
    Techne 13 (3): 206-220. 2009.
    This article attempts to articulate a theoretical framework, the target of which is to systematically unearth the conditions validating the ascription of agency to material culture. A wide range of studies, located within the interdisciplinary field known as material culture studies, testify to and aim at (re)uniting the materials of material culture with the notion of agency. In this article the argument is advanced that material entities have agency only if two necessary conditions are met: an…Read more
  •  60
    Enactivism and predictive processing: A non-representational view
    Philosophical Explorations 21 (2): 264-281. 2018.
    This paper starts by considering an argument for thinking that predictive processing (PP) is representational. This argument suggests that the Kullback–Leibler (KL)-divergence provides an accessible measure of misrepresentation, and therefore, a measure of representational content in hierarchical Bayesian inference. The paper then argues that while the KL-divergence is a measure of information, it does not establish a sufficient measure of representational content. We argue that this follows fro…Read more
  •  58
    Enaction: Toward a New Paradigm for Cognitive Science
    Philosophical Psychology 26 (1): 163-167. 2013.
    Philosophical Psychology, Volume 0, Issue 0, Page 1-5, Ahead of Print
  •  51
    This paper targets the constitutive basis of social cognition. It begins by describing the traditional and still dominant cognitivist view. Cognitivism assumes internalism about the realisers of social cognition; thus, the embodied and embedded elements of intersubjective engagement are ruled out from playing anything but a basic causal role in an account of social cognition. It then goes on to advance and clarify an alternative to the cognitivist view; namely, an enactive account of social cogn…Read more
  •  44
    Composition and Transactive Memory Systems
    Philosophical Explorations 19 (1): 59-77. 2016.
    A recurrent theme in research on socially distributed cognition is to establish the claim that the cognitive phenomenon of transactive memory is grounded in a specific mode of organization: mechanistic compositional organization. My topic is the confluence of transactive remembering or transactive memory systems (TMSs) and mechanistic compositional organization. In relation to this confluence, the paper scrutinizes the claim that the kind of organization grounding TMSs and/or tokens of transacti…Read more
  •  41
    Species of realization and the free energy principle
    Australasian Journal of Philosophy 93 (4): 706-723. 2015.
    This paper examines, for the first time, the relationship between realization relations and the free energy principle in cognitive neuroscience. I argue, firstly, that the free energy principle has ramifications for the wide versus narrow realization distinction: if the free energy principle is correct, then organismic realizers are insufficient for realizing free energy minimization. I argue, secondly, that the free energy principle has implications for synchronic realization relations, because…Read more
  •  36
    From mutual manipulation to cognitive extension: Challenges and implications
    Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 16 (5). 2017.
    This paper examines the application of the mutual manipulability criterion as a way to demarcate constituents of cognitive systems from resources having a mere causal influence on cognitive systems. In particular, it is argued that on at least one interpretation of the mutual manipulability criterion, the criterion is inadequate because the criterion is conceptualized as identifying synchronic dependence between higher and lower ‘levels’ in mechanisms. It is argued that there is a second articul…Read more
  •  35
    Cognitive Transformations and Extended Expertise
    Educational Philosophy and Theory 46 (6): 1-14. 2014.
    Expertise is extended by becoming immersed in cultural practices. We look at an example of mathematical expertise in which immersion in cognitive practices results in the transformation of expert performance.
  •  33
    Mind & Language, EarlyView.
  •  23
    This chapter considers the possible convergence of predictive processing and embodied cognition. It is argued that the embodied view of cognition comprises a subset (if not all) of the following theses: (1) the constitutive thesis, (2) the nonrepresentational thesis, (3) the cognitive-affective inseparability thesis, and (iv) the metaplasticity thesis. It is then argued that predictive processing is prima facie at odds with some (if not all) of these embodied cognition theses. The reason is that…Read more
  •  19
    Material Agency: a Theoretical Framework for Ascribing Agency to Material Culture
    Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology 13 (3): 206-220. 2009.
    This article attempts to articulate a theoretical framework, the target of which is to systematically unearth the conditions validating the ascription of agency to material culture. A wide range of studies, located within the interdisciplinary field known as material culture studies, testify to and aim at uniting the materials of material culture with the notion of agency. In this article the argument is advanced that material entities have agency only if two necessary conditions are met: an ont…Read more