The allure of informational explanations
Rosa Cao (Stanford University)

September 17, 2018, 3:00pm - 4:30pm
Cognitive and Information Sciences, University of California, Merced

COB 2 392
5200 N. Lake Road
Merced 95343
United States

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University of California, Merced

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Abstract: Informational explanations are offered for a wide range of phenomena.  The brain processes information; genes are informational entities; and qua computational devices, brains, genes, and computers can be treated similarly. I’ll argue that informational explanations in all these domains share a common weakness: their reliance on hidden information-users renders the explanations either circular or superfluous.  I’ll give illustrations of the various ways in which this deficiency is manifested.  While it’s clear that we are information-using creatures, that calls for an explanation – it’s the question, not the answer.

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