The School of Liberal Arts, University of Wollongong invites you to attend the
Agora Speaker Series
Thursday 26 May, 3.30 to 5.00pm
This is an in-person event at the University of Wollongong - Register 

Dr Michael Kirchhoff (University of Wollongong)

The Literalist Fallacy and the Free Energy Principle: Model-building, 
Scientific Realism, and Instrumentalism

Disagreement about how best to think of the relation between theories and the 
realities they represent has a longstanding and venerable history. We take up 
this debate in relation to active inference models based on the free energy 
principle (FEP) - a contemporary framework in computational neuroscience, 
theoretical biology and the philosophy of cognitive science. Active inference 
under the FEP is a very ambitious form of model-based science, being applied to 
explain everything from neurobiological structure and function to the biology 
of self-organization. In this context, some find apparent discrepancies between 
the map (active inference models based on the FEP) and the territory (target 
systems) a compelling reason to defend instrumentalism about such models. We 
take this to be misguided. We identify an important fallacy made by those 
defending instrumentalism about active inference models. We call it the 
literalist fallacy: this is the fallacy of accepting or affirming 
instrumentalism based on the claim that the properties of active inference 
models based on the FEP do not literally map onto real-world, target systems. 
We conclude that a version of scientific realism about active inference models 
under the FEP is a live and tenable option.

The Agora Speaker Series is proudly hosted by
The School of Liberal Arts
Faculty of Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities
University of Wollongong
NSW 2522 Australia
SOLA Enquiries<>
T +61 2 4221 4160

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