MEL ANDREWS

University of Cincinnati

Mel Andrews is an instructor and doctoral student in the department of philosophy, University of Cincinnati. Their work explores the phenomena of cognition (anticipatory dynamics) and life (far from thermodynamic equilibrium steady-state dynamics). They compare and contrast the merits and explanatory scope of conceptual and formal models of life and mind, and explore the implications of these considerations for science at large, as well as some of the major outstanding questions in the cognitive and biological sciences and in the philosophy of mind. Their research principally concerns the free energy principle, a mathematical modelling framework for brain, behaviour, and biology which draws from physics and machine learning.

Mel Andrews
RESEARCH QUESTIONS

philosophy of machine learning & statistics

How do we use machine learning, and statistics more broadly, to learn about the world? How do we do so without engaging in self-deception and pernicious social engineering? To this end I investigate Bayesian methods, the phenomenon of reification in modelling efforts and in machine learning and, more generally, the use and misuse of statistical techniques.

philosophy of biology & cognitive science

What makes brute matter living, or cognizant? How did these properties of life and mind come about? What is the relation between them? I propose that various biological phenomena, including the origins of life, the transition to multicellularity, multicellular senescence, morphogenesis, and pattern formation cannot be explained by Darwinian natural selection in a way that does not presuppose an organismal explanation—an explanation that appeals to the unique exigencies of physics in the far from thermodynamic equilibrium regime.

naturalising normativity

Meaning, reference, mind, inference, biological function, even life itself all seem to be, in some sense normative. To this end, I am interested in securing a naturalistic basis for normativity—and weeding out, from scientific and philosophical accounts alike, the vestiges of unnatural normativity.

general philosophy of science, maths & models

What (uniquely) characterises the scientific method? How do scientific theories or models explain? How does maths latch onto the natural world? Why have we been tempted to think, historically, that maths is the language in which nature is written? How do we transcend naïve realism for a vision of scientific success that is more piecemeal and pluralistic? How do we do so without losing the ability to differentiate between good science and junk science?

RECORDED TALKS

TEACHING


2021, Fall Term – Primary Instructor
Introduction to Cognitive Studies
University of Cincinnati


2021, Summer Term – Primary Instructor
Introduction to Cognitive Studies
University of Cincinnati


2021, Spring Term – Primary Instructor
Medical Ethics, focus on algorithmic injustice
& machine learning in medicine
University of Cincinnati


2020, Fall Term – Teaching Assistant
Contemporary Moral Issues, focus on Bioethics
University of Cincinnati


2020, Spring Term – Teaching Assistant
Introduction to Cognitive Studies
University of Cincinnati


2019, Fall Term – Teaching Assistant
Introduction to Philosophy
University of Cincinnati


2019, Summer Term – Instructor
EVOS Seminar Series
Focus on Natural History and the Tree of Life
Binghamton University


2017, Spring Term – Teaching Assistant
Child Development with David Henry Feldman
Tufts University


2018, Winter Term – Co-instructor
EVOS Seminar Series, focus on Science Communication
Binghamton University


2017, Summer Term – Co-instructor
EVOS Seminar Series,
focus on Biological Individuality & Identity
Binghamton University,

CURRICULUM VITAE
CONTACT

Address

Mel Andrews
Department of Philosophy
McMicken Hall,
2700 Campus Way,
Cincinnati, Ohio 45221