•  261
    Assertion and its constitutive norms
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 79 (1): 98-130. 2009.
    Alston, Searle, and Williamson advocate the restrictive model of assertion , according to which certain constitutive assertoric norms restrict which propositions one may assert. Sellars and Brandom advocate the dialectical model of assertion , which treats assertion as constituted by its role in the game of giving and asking for reasons. Sellars and Brandom develop a restrictive version of the dialectical model. I explore a non-restrictive version of the dialectical model. On such a view, consti…Read more
  •  259
    Cognitive maps and the language of thought
    British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 60 (2): 377-407. 2009.
    Fodor advocates a view of cognitive processes as computations defined over the language of thought (or Mentalese). Even among those who endorse Mentalese, considerable controversy surrounds its representational format. What semantically relevant structure should scientific psychology attribute to Mentalese symbols? Researchers commonly emphasize logical structure, akin to that displayed by predicate calculus sentences. To counteract this tendency, I discuss computational models of navigation dra…Read more
  •  175
    Church's Thesis and the Conceptual Analysis of Computability
    Notre Dame Journal of Formal Logic 48 (2): 253-280. 2007.
    Church's thesis asserts that a number-theoretic function is intuitively computable if and only if it is recursive. A related thesis asserts that Turing's work yields a conceptual analysis of the intuitive notion of numerical computability. I endorse Church's thesis, but I argue against the related thesis. I argue that purported conceptual analyses based upon Turing's work involve a subtle but persistent circularity. Turing machines manipulate syntactic entities. To specify which number-theoretic…Read more
  •  168
    The Causal Relevance of Content to Computation
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 88 (1): 173-208. 2014.
    Many philosophers worry that the classical computational theory of mind (CTM) engenders epiphenomenalism. Building on Block’s (1990) discussion, I formulate a particularly troubling version of this worry. I then present a novel solution to CTM’s epiphenomenalist conundrum. I develop my solution within an interventionist theory of causal relevance. My solution departs substantially from orthodox versions of CTM. In particular, I reject the widespread picture of digital computation as formal synta…Read more
  •  157
    I argue that maps do not feature predication, as analyzed by Frege and Tarski. I take as my foil (Casati and Varzi, Parts and places, 1999), which attributes predication to maps. I argue that the details of Casati and Varzi’s own semantics militate against this attribution. Casati and Varzi emphasize what I call the Absence Intuition: if a marker representing some property (such as mountainous terrain) appears on a map, then absence of that marker from a map coordinate signifies absence of the c…Read more
  •  155
    Chrysippus' dog as a case study in non-linguistic cognition
    In Robert W. Lurz (ed.), The Philosophy of Animal Minds, Cambridge University Press. pp. 52--71. 2009.
    I critique an ancient argument for the possibility of non-linguistic deductive inference. The argument, attributed to Chrysippus, describes a dog whose behavior supposedly reflects disjunctive syllogistic reasoning. Drawing on contemporary robotics, I urge that we can equally well explain the dog's behavior by citing probabilistic reasoning over cognitive maps. I then critique various experimentally-based arguments from scientific psychology that echo Chrysippus's anecdotal presentation.
  •  140
    Against Structuralist Theories of Computational Implementation
    British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 64 (4): 681-707. 2013.
    Under what conditions does a physical system implement or realize a computation? Structuralism about computational implementation, espoused by Chalmers and others, holds that a physical system realizes a computation just in case the system instantiates a pattern of causal organization isomorphic to the computation’s formal structure. I argue against structuralism through counter-examples drawn from computer science. On my opposing view, computational implementation sometimes requires instantiati…Read more
  •  113
    A theory of computational implementation
    Synthese 191 (6): 1277-1307. 2014.
    I articulate and defend a new theory of what it is for a physical system to implement an abstract computational model. According to my descriptivist theory, a physical system implements a computational model just in case the model accurately describes the system. Specifically, the system must reliably transit between computational states in accord with mechanical instructions encoded by the model. I contrast my theory with an influential approach to computational implementation espoused by Chalm…Read more
  •  110
    Shifting the burden of proof?
    Philosophical Quarterly 59 (234): 86-109. 2009.
    Dialectical foundationalists, including Adler, Brandom, Leite, and Williams, claim that some asserted propositions do not require defense just because an interlocutor challenges them. By asserting such a proposition, the speaker shifts the burden of proof to her interlocutor. Dialectical egalitarians claim that all asserted propositions require defense when challenged. I elucidate the dispute between dialectical foundationalists and egalitarians, and I defend a broadly egalitarian stance against…Read more
  •  98
    A Linguistic Reason for Truthfulness
    In Dirk Greimann & Geo Siegwart (eds.), Truth and Speech Acts: Studies in the Philosophy of Language, Routledge. pp. 250-279. 2007.
    This paper further develops the non-restrictive dialectical perspective. Many philosophers hold that truthfulness is somehow constitutive of assertion. I argue against this view while simultaneously attempting to ground truthfulness in assertion’s essential features. I argue that truthfulness is the prima facie best way to avoid decisive counter-arguments against what one says. Moreover, avoiding decisive counter-arguments is a constitutive goal of rational dialectic. Thus, while truthfulness is…Read more
  •  96
    Are Computational Transitions Sensitive to Semantics?
    Australasian Journal of Philosophy 90 (4): 703-721. 2012.
    The formal conception of computation (FCC) holds that computational processes are not sensitive to semantic properties. FCC is popular, but it faces well-known difficulties. Accordingly, authors such as Block and Peacocke pursue a ?semantically-laden? alternative, according to which computation can be sensitive to semantics. I argue that computation is insensitive to semantics within a wide range of computational systems, including any system with ?derived? rather than ?original? intentionality.…Read more
  •  95
    The Representational Foundations of Computation
    Philosophia Mathematica 23 (3): 338-366. 2015.
    Turing computation over a non-linguistic domain presupposes a notation for the domain. Accordingly, computability theory studies notations for various non-linguistic domains. It illuminates how different ways of representing a domain support different finite mechanical procedures over that domain. Formal definitions and theorems yield a principled classification of notations based upon their computational properties. To understand computability theory, we must recognize that representation is a …Read more
  •  94
    Epistemic and dialectical regress
    Australasian Journal of Philosophy 87 (1). 2009.
    Dialectical egalitarianism holds that every asserted proposition requires defence when challenged by an interlocutor. This view apparently generates a vicious 'regress of justifications', since an interlocutor can challenge the premises through which a speaker defends her original assertion, and so on ad infinitum . To halt the regress, dialectical foundationalists such as Adler, Brandom, Leite, and Williams propose that some propositions require no defence in the light of mere requests for just…Read more
  •  87
    Bayesian Sensorimotor Psychology
    Mind and Language 31 (1): 3-36. 2016.
    Sensorimotor psychology studies the mental processes that control goal-directed bodily motion. Recently, sensorimotor psychologists have provided empirically successful Bayesian models of motor control. These models describe how the motor system uses sensory input to select motor commands that promote goals set by high-level cognition. I highlight the impressive explanatory benefits offered by Bayesian models of motor control. I argue that our current best models assign explanatory centrality to…Read more
  •  85
    Convention
    Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. 2008.
    The central philosophical task posed by conventions is to analyze what they are and how they differ from mere regularities of action and cognition. Subsidiary questions include: How do conventions arise? How are they sustained? How do we select between alternative conventions? Why should one conform to convention? What social good, if any, do conventions serve? How does convention relate to such notions as rule, norm, custom, practice, institution, and social contract? Apart from its intrinsic i…Read more
  •  75
    Perceptual Constancies and Perceptual Modes of Presentation
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 88 (2): 468-476. 2014.
  •  68
    A striking thesis lies at the core of Davidson‟s philosophy: when we attribute intentional content to another creature‟s mental states and speech acts, we must treat the creature as largely conforming to our own rational norms. I will discuss how this thesis informs Davidson‟s treatment of rationality and intentionality. After reviewing some historical background, I present basic aspects of Davidson‟s position. I then examine various worries about the position. I conclude by highlighting some ke…Read more
  •  58
    Review of Perception and Cognition – Gary Hatfield (review)
    Philosophical Quarterly 61 (242): 205-207. 2011.
  •  56
    This paper discusses conditional probability $$P$$ P , or the probability of A given B. When $$P>0$$ P > 0 , the ratio formula determines $$P$$ P . When $$P=0$$ P = 0 , the ratio formula breaks down. The Borel–Kolmogorov paradox suggests that conditional probabilities in such cases are indeterminate or ill-posed. To analyze the paradox, I explore the relation between probability and intensionality. I argue that the paradox is a Frege case, similar to those that arise in many probabilistic and no…Read more
  •  55
    Copeland and Proudfoot on computability
    Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 43 (1): 199-202. 2012.
    Many philosophers contend that Turing’s work provides a conceptual analysis of numerical computability. In (Rescorla, 2007), I dissented. I argued that the problem of deviant notations stymies existing attempts at conceptual analysis. Copeland and Proudfoot respond to my critique. I argue that their putative solution does not succeed. We are still awaiting a genuine conceptual analysis
  •  45
    Perceptual Co-Reference
    Review of Philosophy and Psychology 1-21. forthcoming.
    The perceptual system estimates distal conditions based upon proximal sensory input. It typically exploits information from multiple cues across and within modalities: it estimates shape based upon visual and haptic cues; it estimates depth based upon convergence, binocular disparity, motion parallax, and other visual cues; and so on. Bayesian models illuminate the computations through which the perceptual system combines sensory cues. I review key aspects of these models. Based on my review, I …Read more
  •  34
    An interventionist approach to psychological explanation
    Synthese 195 (5): 1909-1940. 2018.
    Interventionism is a theory of causal explanation developed by Woodward and Hitchcock. I defend an interventionist perspective on the causal explanations offered within scientific psychology. The basic idea is that psychology causally explains mental and behavioral outcomes by specifying how those outcomes would have been different had an intervention altered various factors, including relevant psychological states. I elaborate this viewpoint with examples drawn from cognitive science practice, …Read more
  •  32
    This paper discusses how to update one’s credences based on evidence that has initial probability 0. I advance a diachronic norm, Kolmogorov Conditionalization, that governs credal reallocation in many such learning scenarios. The norm is based upon Kolmogorov’s theory of conditional probability. I prove a Dutch book theorem and converse Dutch book theorem for Kolmogorov Conditionalization. The two theorems establish Kolmogorov Conditionalization as the unique credal reallocation rule that avoid…Read more
  •  29
    Conditionalization is a norm that governs the rational reallocation of credence. I distinguish between factive and non-factive formulations of Conditionalization. Factive formulations assume that the conditioning proposition is true. Non-factive formulations allow that the conditioning proposition may be false. I argue that non-factive formulations provide a better foundation for philosophical and scientific applications of Bayesian decision theory. I furthermore argue that previous formulations…Read more
  •  22
    Words without Meaning
    Philosophical Review 115 (1): 121-124. 2006.
  •  22
    How Particular Is Perception?
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 100 (3): 721-727. 2020.
  •  11
    Lewis proved a Dutch book theorem for Conditionalization. The theorem shows that an agent who follows any credal update rule other than Conditionalization is vulnerable to bets that inflict a sure loss. Lewis’s theorem is tailored to factive formulations of Conditionalization, i.e. formulations on which the conditioning proposition is true. Yet many scientific and philosophical applications of Bayesian decision theory require a non-factive formulation, i.e. a formulation on which the conditionin…Read more