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  1. Free energy: a user’s guide.Stephen Francis Mann, Ross Pain & Michael D. Kirchhoff - 2022 - Biology and Philosophy 37 (4):1-35.
    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 relationship to other theoretical approaches. Third, (...)
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  2. Teleosemantics and the Hard Problem of Content.Stephen Francis Mann & Ross Pain - 2022 - Philosophical Psychology 35 (1):22-46.
    Hutto and Myin claim that teleosemantics cannot account for mental content. In their view, teleosemantics accounts for a poorer kind of relation between cognitive states and the world but lacks the theoretical tools to account for a richer kind. We show that their objection imposes two criteria on theories of content: a truth-evaluable criterion and an intensionality criterion. For the objection to go through, teleosemantics must be subject to both these criteria and must fail to satisfy them. We argue that (...)
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  3. Teleosemantics and the free energy principle.Stephen Francis Mann & Ross Pain - 2022 - Biology and Philosophy 37 (4):1-25.
    The free energy principle is notoriously difficult to understand. In this paper, we relate the principle to a framework that philosophers of biology are familiar with: Ruth Millikan’s teleosemantics. We argue that: systems that minimise free energy are systems with a proper function; and Karl Friston’s notion of implicit modelling can be understood in terms of Millikan’s notion of mapping relations. Our analysis reveals some surprising formal similarities between the two frameworks, and suggests interesting lines of future research. We hope (...)
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  4.  63
    Cognitive Archaeology and the Minimum Necessary Competence Problem.Anton Killin & Ross Pain - 2023 - Biological Theory 18 (4):269-283.
    Cognitive archaeologists attempt to infer the cognitive and cultural features of past hominins and their societies from the material record. This task faces the problem of _minimum necessary competence_: as the most sophisticated thinking of ancient hominins may have been in domains that leave no archaeological signature, it is safest to assume that tool production and use reflects only the lower boundary of cognitive capacities. Cognitive archaeology involves selecting a model from the cognitive sciences and then assessing some aspect of (...)
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  5.  49
    What Can the Lithic Record Tell Us About the Evolution of Hominin Cognition?Ross Pain - 2019 - Topoi 40 (1):245-259.
    This paper examines the inferential framework employed by Palaeolithic cognitive archaeologists, using the work of Wynn and Coolidge as a case study. I begin by distinguishing minimal-capacity inferences from cognitive-transition inferences. Minimal-capacity inferences attempt to infer the cognitive prerequisites required for the production of a technology. Cognitive-transition inferences use transitions in technological complexity to infer transitions in cognitive evolution. I argue that cognitive archaeology has typically used cognitive-transition inferences informed by minimal-capacity inferences, and that this reflects a tendency to favour (...)
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  6.  35
    Unification at the cost of realism and precision.Rachael L. Brown, Carl Brusse, Bryce Huebner & Ross Pain - 2020 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 43.
    Veissière et al. must sacrifice explanatory realism and precision in order to develop a unified formal model. Drawing on examples from cognitive archeology, we argue that this makes it difficult for them to derive the kinds of testable predictions that would allow them to resolve debates over the nature of human social cognition and cultural acquisition.
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  7. Stone tools, predictive processing and the evolution of language.Ross Pain - 2023 - Mind and Language 38 (3):711-731.
    Recent work by Stout and colleagues indicates that the neural correlates of language and Early Stone Age toolmaking overlap significantly. The aim of this paper is to add computational detail to their findings. I use an error minimisation model to outline where the information processing overlap between toolmaking and language lies. I argue that the Early Stone Age signals the emergence of complex structured representations. I then highlight a feature of my account: It allows us to understand the early evolution (...)
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  8. How WEIRD is Cognitive Archaeology? Engaging with the Challenge of Cultural Variation and Sample Diversity.Anton Killin & Ross Pain - 2023 - Review of Philosophy and Psychology 14 (2):539-563.
    In their landmark 2010 paper, “The weirdest people in the world?”, Henrich, Heine, and Norenzayan outlined a serious methodological problem for the psychological and behavioural sciences. Most of the studies produced in the field use people from Western, Educated, Industrialised, Rich and Democratic (WEIRD) societies, yet inferences are often drawn to the species as a whole. In drawing such inferences, researchers implicitly assume that either there is little variation across human populations, or that WEIRD populations are generally representative of the (...)
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  9.  19
    Gadgets Meet Artefacts: Aligning Heyes’ Cultural Evolutionary Account With the Archaeological Record.Ross Pain - 2024 - Perspectives on Psychological Science 19 (1):44-45.
  10.  36
    Phenomenology and Cognitive Neuroscience: Can a Process Ontology Help Resolve the Impasse?Ross Pain - 2018 - Australasian Philosophical Review 2 (2):204-208.
    Shaun Gallagher [2019] argues for a ‘non-classical’ conception of nature, which includes subjects as irreducible constituents. As such, first-person phenomenology can be naturalised and at the same time resist reduction to the third-person. In the first part of this paper, I raise three concerns for the claim that nature is irreducibly subject-involving. In the second part of the paper, I suggest that embracing a process ontology could help strengthen Gallagher’s proposal.
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  11.  19
    Archaeology and Cognitive Evolution: Introduction to the Thematic Section.Ross Pain, Ceri Shipton & Rachael L. Brown - 2023 - Biological Theory 18 (4):231-233.
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  12.  30
    Culture, genes, selection, and learning: A response to Nichols, Mackey & Moll.Anton Killin & Ross Pain - 2022 - Philosophical Psychology 35 (2):297-300.
  13.  10
    No tinkering allowed: When the end goal requires a highly specific or risky, and complex action sequence, expect ritualistic scaffolding.Rachael L. Brown & Ross Pain - 2022 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 45:e252.
    On Jagiello et al.'s cultural action framework, end-goal resolvability and causal transparency make possible the transmission of complex technologies through low-fidelity cultural learning. We offer three further features of goal-directed action sequences – specificity, riskiness, and complexity – which alter the effectiveness of low-fidelity cultural learning. Incorporating these into the cultural action framework generates further novel, testable predictions for bifocal stance theory.
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  14. Past materials, past minds: The philosophy of cognitive paleoanthropology.Adrian Currie, Anton Killin, Mathilde Lequin, Andra Meneganzin & Ross Pain - 2024 - Philosophy Compass 19 (6):e13001.
    The philosophy of cognitive paleoanthropology involves three related tasks: (1) asking what inferences might be drawn from the paleontological and archaeological records to past cognition, behavior and culture; (2) constructing synthetic accounts of the evolution of distinctive hominin capacities; (3) exploring how results from cognitive paleoanthropology might inform philosophy. We introduce some distinctive cognitive paleoanthropological inferences and discuss their epistemic standing, before considering how attention to the material records and the practice of paleoanthropology can inform and transform philosophical approaches.
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  15.  34
    Mind the gap: a more evolutionarily plausible role for technical reasoning in cumulative technological culture.Ross Pain & Rachael L. Brown - 2020 - Synthese 199 (1-2):2467-2489.
    How do technologies that are too complex for any one individual to produce arise and persist in human populations? Contra prevailing views focusing on social learning, Osiurak and Reynaud argue that the primary driver for cumulative technological culture is our ability for technical reasoning. Whilst sympathetic to their overall position, we argue that two specific aspects of their account are implausible: first, that technical reasoning is unique to humans; and second, that technical reasoning is a necessary condition for the production (...)
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  16.  20
    Does Science Evolve? [REVIEW]Ross Pain - 2023 - Evolution 77 (12):2699–2702.
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  17.  36
    You: A Natural History, by William B Irvine. [REVIEW]Ross Pain - 2020 - Quarterly Review of Biology 95 (3):250-251.