Can Informational Theories Account for Metarepresentations? (forthcoming), Topoi (with Miguel Ángel Sebastián)

In this essay we discuss recent attempts to analize the notion of representation, as it is employed in cognitive science, in purely informational terms. In particular, we argue that recent informational theories cannot accommodate the existence of metarepresentations. Since metarepresentations play a central role in the explanation of many cognitive abilities, this is a serious shortcoming of these proposals.

Deception: A Functional Account (2018), Philosophical Studies, 175 (3): 579-600 (with Cédric Paternotte)

Deception has recently received a significant amount of attention. One of main reasons is that it lies at the intersection of various areas of research, such as the evolution of cooperation, animal communication, ethics or epistemology. This essay focuses on the biological approach to deception and argues that standard definitions put forward by most biologists and philosophers are inadequate. We provide a functional account of deception which solves the problems of extant accounts in virtue of two characteristics: deceptive states have the function of causing a misinformative states and they do not necessarily provide direct benefits to the deceivers and losses to the targets.

Liberal Representationalism: A Deflationist Defense (2016), Dialectica, 70 (3) : 407-430

The idea that only complex brains can possess genuine representations is an important element in mainstream philosophical thinking. An alternative view, which I label ‘liberal representationalism’, holds that we should accept the existence of many more full-blown representations, from activity in retinal ganglion cellºs to the neural states produced by innate releasing mechanisms in cognitively unsophisticated organisms. A promising way of supporting liberal representationalism is to show it to be a consequence of our best naturalistic theories of representation. However, several philosophers and scientists have recently argued against this strategy. In the paper I counter these objections in defense of liberal representationalism.

Teleosemantic Modeling of Cognitive Representations (2016), Biology and Philosophy, 31 (4): 483-505

Naturalistic theories of representation seek to specify the conditions that must be met for an entity to represent another entity. Although these approaches have been relatively successful in certain areas, such as communication theory or genetics, many doubt that they can be employed to naturalize complex cognitive representations. In this essay I identify some of the difficulties for developing a teleosemantic theory of cognitive representations and provide a strategy for accommodating them: to look into models of signaling in evolutionary game theory. I show how these models can be used to formulate teleosemantics and expand it in new directions.

Es pot Naturalitzar la Intencionalitat? (2016), Quaderns de Filosofia, 3(2):  83-119

La intencionalitat és un element central de la nostra comprensió del món. Diàriament atribuim estats intencionals (com ara creences, desitjos o percepcions) per a poder explicar el comportament d’altres agents, i moltes teories filosòfiques hi apel·len per a entendre altres nocions més complexes. Tanmateix, els estats intencionals són entitats enigmàtiques. Aquest article explica què és la intencionalitat i per què és tan important i problemàtica alhora. En segon lloc, examina diverses teories naturalistes que intenten mostrar que la intencionalitat és compatible amb una visió científica del món. Finalment, com que totes les propostes existents s’enfronten a dificultats significatives, s’exploren les opcions disponibles en cas que cap dels projectes naturalistes pugui reeixir.

New Perspectives on Artifactual and Biological Functions (2016), Applied Ontology

An introduction to a special issue on functions for Applied Ontology. The paper has three main sections. I first present the question of artifactual functions in the context of the recent debate on the notion of function. Then, I discuss some of the desiderata a satisfactory account should comply with and, finally, within this general framework, I briefly present the three papers included in the volume.

Rescuing Tracking Theories of Morality (2015), Philosophical Studies

Street’s (2006) Darwinian Dilemma purports to show that evolutionary considerations are in tension with realist theories of value, which include moral realism. According to this argument, moral realism can only be defended by assuming an implausible tracking relation between moral attitudes and moral facts. In this essay, I argue that this tracking relation is not as implausible as most people have assumed by showing that the three main objections against it are flawed. Since this is a key premise in the reasoning, I conclude that the Darwinian Dilemma against moral realism can be resisted.

The Organisational Account of Function is an Etiological Account of Function (2015), Acta Biotheoretica, (with Manolo Martinez)

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 contribute in any relevant way to the self-maintenance of the organism carrying them, but instead have very important effects on organisms that belong to the next generation. We argue that any plausible solution to the problem of cross-generational traits shows that the organizational account just is a version of the etiological theory and, furthermore, that it does not provide any substantive advantage over standard etiological theories of function.

The Modal Theory of Function is not About Functions (2014) Philosophy of Science, 81(4): 581-590

In a series of papers, Nanay (2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, forthcoming) has recently put forward and defended a new theory of function, which he calls the ‘Modal Theory of Function’. In this paper, I critically address this theory and argue that it fails to fulfill some key desiderata that a satisfactory theory of function must comply with. As a result, I conclude that, whatever property Nanay’s notion of function refers to, it is not the property having the function that is standardly attributed in science.

Signaling Without Cooperation (2014) Biology and Philosophy, 29(3): 357-378

Ethological theories usually attribute semantic content to animal signals. To account for this fact, many biologists and philosophers appeal to some version of Teleosemantics. However, this picture has recently came under attack: while mainstream teleosemantics assumes that representational systems must cooperate, some biologists and philosophers argue that in certain cases signaling can evolve within systems lacking common interest. In this paper I defend the standard view from this objection.

Teleosemantics, Info-telsemantics and Circularity (2014) International Journal of Philosophical Studies, 22(4): 583-603

Peter Godfrey-Smith and Nicholas Shea have argued that standard versions of teleosemantics render explanations of successful behavior by appealing to true beliefs circular and, consequently, non-explanatory. As an alternative, Shea has recently suggested an original teleosemantic account (that he calls ‘Infotel-semantics’), which is supposed to be immune to the problem of circularity. The paper argues that the standard version of teleosemantics has a satisfactory reply to the circularity objection and that, in any case, Infotel-semantics is not better off than standard teleosemantics.

Prinz’s Naturalistic Theory of Intentional Content (2014) Crítica, 46 (136): 69-86

This paper addresses Prinz’s naturalistic theory of conceptual content, which he has defended in several works (Prinz, 2000; 2002; 2006). His view is presented in detail and critically assessed. The paper argues that Prinz’s theory of content faces four important di‑culties, which might have significant consequences for his overall empiricist project.

Teleosemantics and Pushmi-Pullyu Representations (2013) Erkenntnis,  79(3): 545- 566

One of the main tenets of current teleosemantic theories is that simple representations are Pushmi-Pullyu states, i.e. they carry descriptive and imperative content at the same time. In the paper I present an argument that shows that if we add this claim to the core tenets of teleosemantics, then (1) it entails that, necessarily, all representations are Pushmi-Pullyu states and (2) it undermines one of the main motivations for the Pushmi-Pullyu account.

Reliable Misrepresentation and Teleosemantics  (2013) Disputatio, 37(5): 265-281

Mendelovici (forthcoming) has recently argued that (1) tracking theories of mental representation (including teleosemantics) are incompatible with the possibility of reliable misrepresentation and that (2) this is an important difficulty for them. Furthermore, she argues that this problem commits teleosemantics to an unjustified a priori rejection of color eliminativism. In this paper I argue that (1) teleosemantics can accommodate most cases of reliable misrepresentation, (2) those cases the theory fails to account for are not objectionable and (3) teleosemantics is not commited to any problematic view on the color realism-antirealism debate.

The Limits of Freedom as Non-Domination (2012) Astrolabio. Revista Internacional de Filosofia, 13: 37-46

In recent years, there has been an increasing interest on the notion of freedom as non-domination, according to which a subject is free to the extent that no agent has the capacity to arbitrarily interfere on his actions. Now, the most common way of interpreting the notion of freedom as non-domination restricts its applicability to cases where particular agents can intentionally and arbitrarily interfere on a subject’s affairs. In this paper, I present an argument which shows that the standard conception of freedom as non-domination is too restrictive, and that this notion can be extended so as to as to ground a critical point of view on economic and social inequalities.

On Several Misuses of Sober’s Selection for/Selection of Distinction (2011) Topoi. An International Review of Philosophy, 30(2): 181-193

It is widely known that Teleological Theories suffer from a major objection: the Indeterminacy Problem. The most common reply to this problem employs the Target of Selection Argument, which is based on Sober’s distinction between Selection for and Selection of. Unfortunately, some years ago the Target of Selection Argument came into serious attack in a famous paper by Goode and Griffiths. Since then, the question of the validity of the Target of Selection Argument in the context of the Indeterminacy Problem has remained largely untouched. In this essay, I argue that both the Target of Selection Argument and Goode and Griffiths’ criticisms to it misuse Sober’s analysis in important respects.

Re-Organizing Organizational Accounts of Function (2011) Applied Ontology, 6: 105–124

In this paper I discuss a recent theory on functions called Organizational Account. This theory seeks to provide a new dention of function that overcomes the distinction between etiological and dispositional accounts and that could be used in biology as well as in technology. I present a deniton of function that I think captures the intuitions of Organizational Accounts and consider several objections

Learning and Selection Processes  (2010) Theoria, 25(2): 197-210

I defend a teleological explanation of normativity, i. e., I argue that what an organism (or device) is supposed to do is determined by its etiological function. In particular, I present a teleological account of the normativity that arises in learning processes, and I defend it from some objections.


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