John Symons

John Symons

Professor, Department of Philosophy at The University of Kansas

Director, The Center for Cyber Social Dynamics

Editor-in-Chief, Global Philosophy

These days I’m especially interested in the philosophy of technology, but in the past I’ve worked in formal epistemology, philosophy of psychology, and the metaphysics of emergence.  

A list of my publications, and links to some of them are below.  You can also find podcasts and videos below.


Software and Certainty (With Jack Horner) in preparation

Cyber-Social Ethics: A Philosophical Inquiry (With Ramón Alvarado) (Routledge forthcoming in 2022)

History and Philosophy of Materialism Co-edited with Charles Wolfe (Routledge forthcoming in 2022)

Formal Reasoning: A guide to critical thinking (-uncorrected-1st-ed-1) Open Access!!!  (Dubuque: Kendall Hunt 2017)

The Architecture of Cognition: Rethinking Fodor and Pylyshyn’s Systematicity Challenge Co-edited with Paco Calvo (Cambridge: MIT press 2014)

Daniel Dennett: Critical Assessments of Leading Philosophers (New York: Routledge 2014)

Special Sciences and the Unity of Science Co-edited with Olga Pombo, Shahid Rahman, and Juan Manuel Torres (New York: Springer 2012)

Philosophy of Physics; 5+1 Questions. Co-edited with Juan Ferret (Automatic Press, 2010)

Otto Neurath and the Unity of Science. Co-edited with Olga Pombo (New York: Springer 2010)

Routledge Companion to the Philosophy of Psychology. Co-edited with Paco Calvo and Sarah Robins (New York: Routledge, 2019)

Masses of Formal Philosophy. Co-edited with Vincent Hendricks (Automatic Press, 2006)

Formal Philosophy. Co-edited with Vincent Hendricks (Automatic Press, 2005)

Questions, Quantifiers and Quantum Physics: Essays on the Philosophy of Jaakko Hintikka. Co-edited with Dan Kolak (New York: Springer, 2004)

Logic, Epistemology and the Unity of Science. Co-edited with Jean Paul van Bendegem, Dov Gabbay and Shahid Rahman (Dordrecht: Kluwer, 2004)

On Dennett, (Belmont CA: Wadsworth, 2002). Translated into Slovak by Juraj Hvorecky as Dennett (Bratislava: Albert Marenčin 2004) Translated into French by Mathieu Aury with additional chapters on Quinean naturalism, as Dennett: Un naturalisme en chantier. (Paris: Presses Universitaire de France, 2005)


Neurath’s physicalism(Draft) 

Social Agency for Artifacts: Chatbots and the Ethics of Artificial Intelligence.  (with Syed Abu Musab) Digital Society

A Meta-Inductive Approach to Supporting Epistemic Democracy. (with Petr Spelda and Vit Stritecky) Social Epistemology

Central Themes and Open Questions in the Philosophy of Computer Science. (with Nicola Angius) Global Philosophy

Is AI Capable of Aristotelian Full Moral Virtue? : The Rational Power of phronesis, Machine Learning and Regularity in Artificial Dispositions: Investigating Ethical and Metaphysical Issues. William A. Bauer and Anna Marmodoro (Editors) Bloomsbury (with Ruth Groff)

The Ideal of Global Philosophy in an Age of Deglobalization. Forthcoming in Global Philosophy.

Resilient Institutions and Social Norms: Some Notes on Ongoing Theoretical and Empirical Research Forthcoming in Rice, M. (ed.) Merrill Series on The Research Mission of Public Universities (with Stacy Elmer)

Epistemic Injustice and Data Science Technologies   (with Ramón Alvarado)  Synthese

Reconciling Ontic Structural Realism and Ontological Emergence (with João L. Cordovil, Gil C. Santos)Foundations of Science

Explaining the  Virtue of Consistency FFilosofia Maravilhosa: Journal of the Brazilian Academy of Philosophy

Value judgments in a COVID-19 vaccination model: a case study in the need for public involvement in health-oriented modeling.(with Stephanie Harvard, Eric Winsberg, and Amin Adibi) Social Science & Medicine  (2021)

Millikan’s biological explanation of mental representation – a critical introduction (With M Polo Camacho) Saudi Journal of Philosophical Studies 1 (1), 195-201 (English Language Version)

Open-mindedness as a corrective virtue  Philosophy (with Hassan Alsharif)

Experimental philosophy within its proper bounds.  Inquiry 

Meaningfulness and kinds of normative reasons.  Philosophia: Philosophical Quarterly of Israel 

Software EngineeringStandards for Epidemiological Modeling History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences  (With Jack Horner)

What Have Google’s Random Quantum Circuit Simulation Experiments Demonstrated about Quantum Supremacy? in Arabnia, H. (et al) Advances in Software Engineering. Transactions on Computational Science and Computational Intelligence Springer (With Jack Horner)

Resilience and Technological Diversity in Smart Homes. A Graph-Theoretic Approach to Modeling IoT Systems with Integrated Heterogeneous Networks  Journal of Ambient Intelligence and Humane Computing (With Amir Modarresi)

Should Physical Computation be understood Mechanistically?  APA Newsletter on Philosophy and Computers 19 (1), 18-21 (2019)

Modeling Technological Interdependency in IoT – A Multidimensional and Multilayer Network Model for Smart Environments  (With Amir Modarresi) RNDM 2019

Epistemic Logic  Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy : Updated version (2019)With Rasmus Rendsvig

Modeling and Graph Analysis for Enhancing Resilience  With Amir Modarresi) The 10th International Conference on Emerging Ubiquitous Systems and Pervasive Networks. EUSPN 2019

Why there is no general solution to the problem of software verification (With Jack Horner) in Foundations of Science

Understanding Error Rates in Software Engineering: Conceptual, Empirical, and Experimental Approaches  (With Jack Horner) in Philosophy and Technology

Epistemic Entitlements and the Practice of Computer Simulations  (With Ramón Alvarado) Minds and Machines 29 (1):37-60 (2019)

Brute facts about emergence. in Vintiadis and Mekios (eds.) Brute Facts. Oxford University Press pp.177-196, 2018

Metaphysical and scientific approaches to emergence: Varieties of fundamentality and theoretical completeness in Mittal, Diallo and Tolk (eds.) : Emergent Behavior in Complex Systems Engineering: A Modeling and Simulations Approach  Wiley (pp.3-20) March 2018 DOI: 10.1002/9781119378952.ch1

Software Error as a Limit to Inquiry for Finite Agents: Challenges for the Post-human Scientist” (With Jack Horner) in Powers, T. (ed.) Philosophy and Computing: Essays in Epistemology, Philosophy of Mind, Logic, and Ethics.  Springer pp.  2017

Can we Trust Big Data? Applying Philosophy of Science to Software” (with Ramon Alvarado) Vol 3, Issue 2 First published date: September-02-2016 10.1177/2053951716664747 PDF

Teleosemantics and Natural Information”  in Floridi, L. (ed.) Routledge Companion to Philosophy of Information. Routledge pp. 263-276 2016

Physicalism, Scientific Respectability and Strongly Emergent Properties” In Tudorel Dima and Mihaela Luca (eds.) Cognitive Sciences: An Interdisciplinary Approach. Bucharest: Pro Universitaria pp. 14-37 2015

Software Intensive Science” (with Jack Horner) Philosophy and Technology, Volume 27, Issue 3, pp 461-477, 2014

Reply to Angius and Primiero on Software Intensive Science” (with Jack Horner) Philosophy and Technology Volume 27, Issue 3, pp 491-494, 2014

Computing with Bodies: Morphology, Function, and Computational Theory.” (with Paco Calvo) in Charles Wolfe (ed.) Brain Theory: Essays in Critical Neurophilosophy New York: Palgrave pp. 91-106, 2014

The Emergence of Systematicity in Minimally Cognitive Agents” (with Paco Calvo and Emma Martin) in The Architecture of Cognition: Rethinking Fodor and Pylyshyn’s Systematicity Challenge Co-edited with Paco Calvo Cambridge: MIT press 397-434, 2014

Systematicity: an Overview” (with Paco Calvo) in The Architecture of Cognition: Rethinking Fodor and Pylyshyn’s Systematicity Challenge Co-edited with Paco Calvo Cambridge: MIT press 3-30, 2014

How Computational Models Predict the Behavior of Complex Systems” Foundations of Science (with Fabio Boschetti) Foundations of Science 18 (4), 809-821, 2013.

Applying Logic: Some Remarks on the Reciprocal Influence of Experimental and Formal Investigations of Identification” Acta Philosophica Fennica, 90, 99-111, 2013.

What is a Model, Why People Don’t Trust Them and Why They Should.”  (with Boschetti F, Fulton E.A., Bradbury, R.H.) In Negotiating Our Future: Living scenarios for Australia to 2050, Vol 2. Australian Academy of Science 107-119, 2012

Beyond Error Correction” Frontiers in Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2012.00423 September, 2012 (with Paco Calvo and Emma Martin)

“Thinking About Pain in Hell: Identifying Qualia Across Possible Worlds.” Southwest Philosophical Studies. 32: 1-11 2012

Borders‘ (with Josiah Heyman)  in A Companion to Moral Anthropology.  Didier Fassin ed. Wiley-Blackwell 540-559, 2012

Limiting Skepticism” (with Vincent Hendricks) Logos and Episteme  2, 2 211-224, 2011

Six Questions on Complex Systems‘ Numerical Analysis and Applied Mathematics ICNAAM 20111389, 956-958, 2011

Novel properties generated by interacting computational systems: A minimal model” (with Fabio Boschetti) Complex Systems 20, 151-164, 2011

Logic and Formal Semantics for Epistemology” in Routledge Companion to Epistemology. Duncan Pritchard and Sven Bernecker (eds) New York: Routledge. 571-586, 2011

Ontology and Methodology in the Analytic Philosophy” in Theories and Applications of Ontology Vol. 1 J. Seibt and R. Poli (eds.) New York: Springer. 349-394, 2010.

“The Individuality of Organisms and Artifacts” History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences Vol. 32, no. 2-3, 233-47, 2010

“Teleology in Biology: Haddox on the Basic Principles of the Living World” in Thought and Social Engagement in the Mexican-american Philosophy of John H. Haddox: A Collection of Critical Appreciations. Carlos Alberto Sanchez and J.Simon ed. Lewiston, New York: Edwin Mellen Press, 2010

“Epistemic Logic’ (with Vincent Hendricks) in The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Spring 2009 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL =

“Supervenience” in The Encyclopedia of Neuroscience. New York: Springer, vol. 19, 3901-3903, 2009

“What has Philosophy of Psychology Become?” Routledge Companion to Philosophy of Psychology. John Symons and Paco Calvo (eds.) New York: Routledge xxi-xxiv, 2009

“Inquiry and Functionalism” in Cédric Dégremont, Laurent Kieff and Helge Rückert (eds.) Dialogues, Logic and Other Strange ThingsEssays in Honour of Shahid Rahman. London: College Publications 385-393, 2008

“Intuition and Philosophical Methodology” Axiomathes 18: 67-89, 2008

“Detecting Emergence in the Interplay of Networks” Interplay of Networks”, in Goran P. Trajkovski and Samuel G. Collins (eds.) (2008) Emergent Agents and Socialities: Social and Organizational Aspects of Intelligence, AAAI Technical Report FS-07-04. Menlo Park, California: The AAAI Press. 86-93

Functionalism-and Fallibility” Southwest Philosophical Studies 30, 79-84, 2008

“Computational Models of Emergent Properties” Minds and Machines 18, 4: 475-491, 2008 Reprinted in Nigel Gilbert (ed) Computational Social Science. London: Sage publications 2010

“A Computational Modeling Strategy for Levels” Philosophy of Science 75, 608-620. 2008

“Understanding the Complexity of Information Processing Tasks in Vision.'” In Carlos Gershenson,

Diederik Aerts, and Bruce Edmonds (eds.) Philosophy and Complexity: Essays on Epistemology, Evolution, and Emergence. Singapore: World Scientific 300-314, 2007

“Towards a General Description of Physical Invariance in Category Theory” (with Vladik Kreinovich and Julio Urenda) Journal of Uncertain Systems 1: 170-175, 2007

“Pattern-oriented analysis of communication flow: the case study of Cicada barbara lusitanica.” (with Louçã, J, Rodrigues, D., Morais, A.)Proceedings of the 21st European Conference on Modelling and Simulation ECMS 2007, Ivan Zelinka, Zuzana Oplatková, Alessandra Orsoni, ed. Prague: ECMS pp. 229-234, 2007

“Quine, Barcan-Marcus and Kripke on Modality” Southwest Philosophical Studies 29, 49-54, 2007

“No Mere Formality: On Why Formal Philosophy Matters” (with Vincent Hendricks) The Philosophers’ Magazine 3rd quarter 35-38, 2007

“Where’s the Bridge? Epistemic logic and epistemology” (with Vincent Hendricks) Philosophical Studies 128:137-167, 2006

“The Results are in: On the scope and import of Hintikka’s philosophy”, (With Daniel Kolak) in Questions, Quantifiers and Quantum Physics.  New York: Springer 190-258, 2004

“Systems of visual identification in neuroscience: Lessons from epistemic logic.” With Jaakko Hintikka Philosophy of Science 70: 89-104, 2003 Reprinted in Hintikka, J. Socratic Epistemology: Explorations of Knowledge-Seeking by Questioning.  Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 2007

“Logic, Epistemology and the Unity of Science: An Encyclopedic Project in the Spirit of Diderot and Neurath” With Shahid Rahman in Logic, Epistemology and the Unity of Science. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers: 4-36, 2003

Emergence and Reflexive Downward Causation” Principia 6: 14-39, 2002

“Information, Representation, and the Dynamic Systems Approach to Language: Commentary on Shanker and King”, Behavioral and Brain Sciences 25 640-641, 2002

Explanation, Representation and the Dynamical Hypothesis” Minds and Machines 11: 521-541, 2001

“What can Neuroscience Explain?” Brain and Mind 2: 243-248, 2001


During the pandemic of 2020 I teamed up with the Saudi platform for philosophy and culture Mana to record a series of conversations with distinguished contemporary philosophers.  They were translated into Arabic and made available in English with Arabic subtitles on YouTube.  Here they are:

Agnes Callard Helen De Cruz Daniel Dennett Richard De George Luciano Floridi Èdouard Machery Olga Pombo Charles Wolfe Advice to aspiring philosophers

Some other videos:

Epidemiological Modeling, Policy, and Covid-19 | Daniel Kaufman, Eric Winsberg, & John Symons (Bloggingheads TV April 2020) ‘What Can We Teach Our Posthuman Descendants’ A Talk to the Hall Center for the Humanities at University of Kansas


John Symons