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Representations gone mental

Synthese 191 (2):213-244 (2014)

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  1. A Deflationary Account of Mental Representation.Frances Egan - forthcoming - In Joulia Smortchkova, Krzysztof Dolega & Tobias Schlicht (eds.), Mental Representations. New York, USA: Oxford University Press.
    Among the cognitive capacities of evolved creatures is the capacity to represent. Theories in cognitive neuroscience typically explain our manifest representational capacities by positing internal representations, but there is little agreement about how these representations function, especially with the relatively recent proliferation of connectionist, dynamical, embodied, and enactive approaches to cognition. In this talk I sketch an account of the nature and function of representation in cognitive neuroscience that couples a realist construal of representational vehicles with a pragmatic account of (...)
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  • Strong Liberal Representationalism.Marc Artiga - forthcoming - Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences:1-23.
    The received view holds that there is a significant divide between full-blown representational states and so called ‘detectors’, which are mechanisms set off by specific stimuli that trigger a particular effect. The main goal of this paper is to defend the idea that many detectors are genuine representations, a view that I call ‘Strong Liberal Representationalism’. More precisely, I argue that ascribing semantic properties to them contributes to an explanation of behavior, guides research in useful ways and can accommodate misrepresentation.
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  • Are Representations Glorified Receptors? On Use and Usage of Mental Representations.Paweł Grabarczyk - 2021 - Semiotica 2021 (240):335-350.
    In the paper I present an application of Jerzy Pelc’s functional semiotics to contemporary cognitive science. I argue that, even though the original theory addressed only linguistic representations, it can be fruitfully applied to mental representations. I show how Pelc’s distinction between use and usage helps us clarify the notion of mental representations and how it makes it immune to skeptical challenges presented in contemporary cognitive science literature.
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  • Rise of the Swamp Creatures: Reflections on a Mechanistic Approach to Content.Jonny Lee - forthcoming - Philosophical Psychology:1-24.
    Recent developments in the literature suggest cognitive representation can be conceived of as a kind of mechanism that meets the functional profile set out by the S-representation account. However, this approach is threatened by worries that the S-representation account cannot tell a satisfactory story about content determination at the subpersonal level. One solution is to complement the S-representation account with a traditional etiological theory of content determination. This paper argues such a move is unwarranted and threatens the broader project of (...)
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  • Bodily Structure and Body Representation.Adrian J. T. Alsmith - 2019 - Synthese 198 (3):2193-2222.
    This paper is concerned with representational explanations of how one experiences and acts with one’s body as an integrated whole. On the standard view, accounts of bodily experience and action must posit a corresponding representational structure: a representation of the body as an integrated whole. The aim of this paper is to show why we should instead favour the minimal view: given the nature of the body, and representation of its parts, accounts of the structure of bodily experience and action (...)
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  • Are Generative Models Structural Representations?Marco Facchin - forthcoming - Minds and Machines:1-27.
    Philosophers interested in the theoretical consequences of predictive processing often assume that predictive processing is an inferentialist and representationalist theory of cognition. More specifically, they assume that predictive processing revolves around approximated Bayesian inferences drawn by inverting a generative model. Generative models, in turn, are said to be structural representations: representational vehicles that represent their targets by being structurally similar to them. Here, I challenge this assumption, claiming that, at present, it lacks an adequate justification. I examine the only argument (...)
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  • Mechanisms, Wide Functions, and Content: Towards a Computational Pluralism.Jonny Lee - 2021 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 72 (1):221-244.
    In recent years, the ‘mechanistic view’ has developed as a popular alternative to the ‘semantic view’ concerning the identity of physical computation. However, semanticists have provided powerful arguments that suggest the mechanistic view fails to deliver essential distinctions between paradigmatic computational operations. This article reviews responses on behalf of the mechanist and uses this opportunity to propose a type of pluralism about computational identity. This pluralism contends that there are multiple ‘levels’ of properties and relations pertaining to computation that can (...)
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  • Similarity-Based Cognition: Radical Enactivism Meets Cognitive Neuroscience.Miguel Segundo-Ortin & Daniel D. Hutto - 2019 - Synthese 198 (Suppl 1):5-23.
    Similarity-based cognition is commonplace. It occurs whenever an agent or system exploits the similarities that hold between two or more items—e.g., events, processes, objects, and so on—in order to perform some cognitive task. This kind of cognition is of special interest to cognitive neuroscientists. This paper explicates how similarity-based cognition can be understood through the lens of radical enactivism and why doing so has advantages over its representationalist rival, which posits the existence of structural representations or S-representations. Specifically, it is (...)
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  • Contents, Vehicles, and Complex Data Analysis in Neuroscience.Daniel Burnston - forthcoming - Synthese.
    The notion of representation in neuroscience has largely been predicated on localizing the components of computational processes that explain cognitive function. On this view, which I call “algorithmic homuncularism,” individual, spatially and temporally distinct parts of the brain serve as vehicles for distinct contents, and the causal relationships between them implement the transformations specified by an algorithm. This view has a widespread influence in philosophy and cognitive neuroscience, and has recently been ably articulated and defended by Shea (2018). Still, I (...)
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  • Neural Representations Observed.Eric Thomson & Gualtiero Piccinini - 2018 - Minds and Machines 28 (1):191-235.
    The historical debate on representation in cognitive science and neuroscience construes representations as theoretical posits and discusses the degree to which we have reason to posit them. We reject the premise of that debate. We argue that experimental neuroscientists routinely observe and manipulate neural representations in their laboratory. Therefore, neural representations are as real as neurons, action potentials, or any other well-established entities in our ontology.
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  • Content Pragmatism Defended.Dimitri Coelho Mollo - 2020 - Topoi 39 (1):103-113.
    In the literature on the nature and role of cognitive representation, three positions are taken across the conceptual landscape: robust realism, primitivism, and eliminativism. Recently, a fourth alternative that tries to avoid the shortcomings of traditional views has been proposed: content pragmatism. My aim is to defend pragmatism about content against some recent objections moved against the view. According to these objections, content pragmatism fails to capture the role played by representation in the cognitive sciences; and/or is an unstable view (...)
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  • Dynamicism, Radical Enactivism, and Representational Cognitive Processes: The Case of Subitization.Misha Ash & Rex Welshon - 2020 - Tandf: Philosophical Psychology 33 (8):1096-1120.
    Volume 33, Issue 8, November 2020, Page 1096-1120.
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  • Towards a Cognitive Neuroscience of Intentionality.Alex Morgan & Gualtiero Piccinini - 2018 - Minds and Machines 28 (1):119-139.
    We situate the debate on intentionality within the rise of cognitive neuroscience and argue that cognitive neuroscience can explain intentionality. We discuss the explanatory significance of ascribing intentionality to representations. At first, we focus on views that attempt to render such ascriptions naturalistic by construing them in a deflationary or merely pragmatic way. We then contrast these views with staunchly realist views that attempt to naturalize intentionality by developing theories of content for representations in terms of information and biological function. (...)
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  • Structural Representations: Causally Relevant and Different From Detectors.Paweł Gładziejewski & Marcin Miłkowski - 2017 - Biology and Philosophy 32 (3):337-355.
    This paper centers around the notion that internal, mental representations are grounded in structural similarity, i.e., that they are so-called S-representations. We show how S-representations may be causally relevant and argue that they are distinct from mere detectors. First, using the neomechanist theory of explanation and the interventionist account of causal relevance, we provide a precise interpretation of the claim that in S-representations, structural similarity serves as a “fuel of success”, i.e., a relation that is exploitable for the representation using (...)
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  • Representaciones mentales, representaciones neutonales y el enigma de la intencionalidad: Acerca de representaciones mentales de Liza Skidelsky.Sergio Daniel Barberis - 2018 - Análisis Filosófico 38 (2):209-220.
    En Representaciones mentales, Liza Skidelsky se propone poner de manifiesto la completa escisión que existe entre los fenómenos de la intencionalidad de los estados mentales y el contenido de las representaciones mentales. Por un lado, la autora defiende una elucidación internista del contenido de las representaciones mentales postuladas por la ciencia cognitiva. Por otro lado, nos propone concebir la intencionalidad como un fenómeno vinculado al lenguaje y a las prácticas comunicativas. Esta reformulación permitiría establecer los cimientos para un proyecto naturalista (...)
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  • Investigating Neural Representations: The Tale of Place Cells.William Bechtel - 2016 - Synthese 193 (5):1287-1321.
    While neuroscientists often characterize brain activity as representational, many philosophers have construed these accounts as just theorists’ glosses on the mechanism. Moreover, philosophical discussions commonly focus on finished accounts of explanation, not research in progress. I adopt a different perspective, considering how characterizations of neural activity as representational contributes to the development of mechanistic accounts, guiding the investigations neuroscientists pursue as they work from an initial proposal to a more detailed understanding of a mechanism. I develop one illustrative example involving (...)
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  • Neural Representations Beyond “Plus X”.Alessio Plebe & Vivian M. De La Cruz - 2018 - Minds and Machines 28 (1):93-117.
    In this paper we defend structural representations, more specifically neural structural representation. We are not alone in this, many are currently engaged in this endeavor. The direction we take, however, diverges from the main road, a road paved by the mathematical theory of measure that, in the 1970s, established homomorphism as the way to map empirical domains of things in the world to the codomain of numbers. By adopting the mind as codomain, this mapping became a boon for all those (...)
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  • Structural Representation and the Two Problems of Content.Jonny Lee - 2019 - Mind and Language 34 (5):606-626.
    Mind &Language, Volume 34, Issue 5, Page 606-626, November 2019.
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  • The Content of Marr’s Information-Processing Framework.J. Brendan Ritchie - 2019 - Philosophical Psychology 32 (7):1078-1099.
    ABSTRACTThe seminal work of David Marr, popularized in his classic work Vision, continues to exert a major influence on both cognitive science and philosophy. The interpretation of his work also co...
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  • The Code Model of Biosemiotics and the Fate of the Structuralist Theory of Mental Representation.Majid Davoody Beni - 2017 - Biosemiotics 10 (1):99-107.
    In this paper I am advocating a structuralist theory of mental representation. For a structuralist theory of mental representation to be defended satisfactorily, the naturalistic and causal constraints have to be satisfied first. The more intractable of the two, i.e., the naturalistic constraint, indicates that to account for the mental representation, we should not invoke “a full-blown interpreting mind”. So, the aim of the paper is to show how the naturalistic and causal constraints could be satisfied. It aims to offer (...)
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  • From Symbols to Icons: The Return of Resemblance in the Cognitive Neuroscience Revolution.Daniel Williams & Lincoln Colling - 2018 - Synthese 195 (5):1941-1967.
    We argue that one important aspect of the “cognitive neuroscience revolution” identified by Boone and Piccinini :1509–1534. doi: 10.1007/s11229-015-0783-4, 2015) is a dramatic shift away from thinking of cognitive representations as arbitrary symbols towards thinking of them as icons that replicate structural characteristics of their targets. We argue that this shift has been driven both “from below” and “from above”—that is, from a greater appreciation of what mechanistic explanation of information-processing systems involves, and from a greater appreciation of the problems (...)
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  • The Cognitive Neuroscience Revolution.Worth Boone & Gualtiero Piccinini - 2016 - Synthese 193 (5):1509-1534.
    We outline a framework of multilevel neurocognitive mechanisms that incorporates representation and computation. We argue that paradigmatic explanations in cognitive neuroscience fit this framework and thus that cognitive neuroscience constitutes a revolutionary break from traditional cognitive science. Whereas traditional cognitive scientific explanations were supposed to be distinct and autonomous from mechanistic explanations, neurocognitive explanations aim to be mechanistic through and through. Neurocognitive explanations aim to integrate computational and representational functions and structures across multiple levels of organization in order to explain (...)
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