Bruineberg et al.: Emperor’s New Blankets

The next meeting of the seminar is planned for January, 15th at 12:00 CET. We are delighted to host as our speakers the authors of the paper: Bruineberg, Jelle and Dolega, Krzysztof and Dewhurst, Joe and Baltieri, Manuel (2020) The Emperor’s New Markov Blankets.

Abstract:  Markov blankets have been used to settle disputes central to philosophy of mind and cognition. Their development from a technical concept in Bayesian inference to a central concept within the free-energy principle is analysed. We propose to distinguish between instrumental Pearl blankets and realist Friston blankets. Pearl blankets are substantiated by the empirical literature but can do limited philosophical work. Friston blankets can do philosophical work, but require strong theoretical assumptions. Both are conflated in the current literature on the free-energy principle. Consequently, we propose that distinguishing between an instrumental and a realist research program will help clarify the literature.

The seminar is focused on discussing the papers, in a reading group style. The speaker first introduces the main theses of the paper (for around ten minutes), and then the floor is open for comments. In the online version of the seminar, the questions must be first signaled briefly on the chat to manage the flow of the discussion. To receive the Google Meet link, please contact Dr. Przemysław Nowakowski (

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