How to entrain your evil demon

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The notion that the brain is a prediction error minimizer entails, via the notion of Markov blankets and self-evidencing, a form of global scepticism — an inability to rule out evil demon scenarios. This type of scepticism is viewed by some as a sign of a fatally flawed conception of mind and cognition. Here I discuss whether this scepticism is ameliorated by acknowledging the role of action in the most ambitious approach to prediction error minimization, namely under the free energy principle. I argue that the scepticism remains but that the role of action in the free energy principle constrains the demon’s work. This yields new insights about the free energy principle, epistemology, and the place of mind in nature.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPhilosophy and Predictive Processing
EditorsThomas Metzinger, Wanja Wiese
Place of PublicationMainz Germany
PublisherMIND group
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)9783958571389
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Active inference
  • Agency
  • Approximate bayesian inference
  • Coupled oscillation
  • Epistemic value
  • Evil demon
  • Exact inference
  • Free energy principle
  • Functional role semantics
  • Internal models
  • Internalism
  • Interventionism
  • Markov blanket
  • Perceptual inference
  • Perceptual learning
  • Prediction error minimization
  • Scepticism
  • Self-evidencing
  • Variational bayesian inference

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