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Representation in Cognitive Science

Oxford University Press (2018)

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  1. Retiring the “Cinderella View”: The Spinal Cord as an Intrabodily Cognitive Extension.Marco Facchin, Marco Viola & Elia Zanin - 2021 - Biology and Philosophy 36 (5):1-25.
    Within the field of neuroscience, it is assumed that the central nervous system is divided into two functionally distinct components: the brain, which does the cognizing, and the spinal cord, which is a conduit of information enabling the brain to do its job. We dub this the “Cinderella view” of the spinal cord. Here, we suggest it should be abandoned. Marshalling recent empirical findings, we claim that the spinal cord is best conceived as an intrabodily cognitive extension: a piece of (...)
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  • A Tribute to Karen Neander.Christopher Hill & Carlotta Pavese - 2021 - Biological Theory 16 (4):195-202.
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  • Mental Structures.Kevin J. Lande - 2020 - Noûs.
    An ongoing philosophical discussion concerns how various types of mental states fall within broad representational genera—for example, whether perceptual states are “iconic” or “sentential,” “analog” or “digital,” and so on. Here, I examine the grounds for making much more specific claims about how mental states are structured from constituent parts. For example, the state I am in when I perceive the shape of a mountain ridge may have as constituent parts my representations of the shapes of each peak and saddle (...)
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  • Rejecting Epiphobia.Umut Baysan - 2021 - Synthese 199 (1-2):2773-2791.
    Epiphenomenalism denies some or all putative cases of mental causation. The view is widely taken to be absurd: if a theory can be shown to entail epiphenomenalism, many see that as a reductio of that theory. Opponents take epiphenomenalism to be absurd because they regard the view as undermining the evident agency we have in action and precluding substantial self-knowledge. In this paper, I defend epiphenomenalism against these objections, and thus against the negative dialectical role that the view plays in (...)
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  • Beyond Black Dots and Nutritious Things: A Solution to the Indeterminacy Problem.Marc Artiga - 2021 - Mind and Language 36 (3):471-490.
    The indeterminacy problem is one of the most prominent objections against naturalistic theories of content. In this essay I present this difficulty and argue that extant accounts are unable to solve it. Then, I develop a particular version of teleosemantics, which I call ’explanation-based teleosemantics’, and show how this outstanding problem can be addressed within the framework of a powerful naturalistic theory.
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  • Predictive Processing and Anti-Representationalism.Marco Facchin - 2021 - Synthese 199 (3-4):11609-11642.
    Many philosophers claim that the neurocomputational framework of predictive processing entails a globally inferentialist and representationalist view of cognition. Here, I contend that this is not correct. I argue that, given the theoretical commitments these philosophers endorse, no structure within predictive processing systems can be rightfully identified as a representational vehicle. To do so, I first examine some of the theoretical commitments these philosophers share, and show that these commitments provide a set of necessary conditions the satisfaction of which allows (...)
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  • The Number Sense Represents (Rational) Numbers.Sam Clarke & Jacob Beck - 2021 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 44:1-57.
    On a now orthodox view, humans and many other animals possess a “number sense,” or approximate number system, that represents number. Recently, this orthodox view has been subject to numerous critiques that question whether the ANS genuinely represents number. We distinguish three lines of critique – the arguments from congruency, confounds, and imprecision – and show that none succeed. We then provide positive reasons to think that the ANS genuinely represents numbers, and not just non-numerical confounds or exotic substitutes for (...)
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  • Colour Hallucination: In Defence of Externalist Representationalism.Elisabeth Lucia Waczek & Wolfgang Barz - forthcoming - Analysis.
    In a recent paper, Gow raised a new and interesting problem for externalist representationalism, the conclusion of which is that its proponents are unable to provide an acceptable account of the phenomenal character of colour hallucination. In contrast to Gow, we do not believe that the problem is particularly severe – indeed, that there is any problem at all. Thus our aim is to defend externalist representationalism against the problem raised by Gow. To this end, we will first reconstruct her (...)
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  • Crane and the Mark of the Mental.Andrea Raimondi - forthcoming - Analysis.
    Brentano’s (1874: 88–89) suggestion that intentionality is the mark of the mental is typically spelled out in terms of the thesis that all and only mental states are intentional. An influential objection is that intentionality is not necessary for mentality (McGinn 1982; Dretske 1995; Deonna and Teroni 2012; Bordini 2017). What about the idea that only mental states are intentional? In his 2008 paper published in Analysis, Nes shows that on a popular characterization of intentionality, notably defended by Crane (2014 (...)
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  • Extended Predictive Minds: do Markov Blankets Matter?Marco Facchin - forthcoming - Review of Philosophy and Psychology:1-30.
    The extended mind thesis claims that a subject’s mind sometimes encompasses the environmental props the subject interacts with while solving cognitive tasks. Recently, the debate over the extended mind has been focused on Markov Blankets: the statistical boundaries separating biological systems from the environment. Here, I argue such a focus is mistaken, because Markov Blankets neither adjudicate, nor help us adjudicate, whether the extended mind thesis is true. To do so, I briefly introduce Markov Blankets and the free energy principle (...)
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  • Making AI Intelligible: Philosophical Foundations.Herman Cappelen & Joshua Dever - 2021 - New York, USA: Oxford University Press.
    Can humans and artificial intelligences share concepts and communicate? Making AI Intelligible shows that philosophical work on the metaphysics of meaning can help answer these questions. Herman Cappelen and Josh Dever use the externalist tradition in philosophy to create models of how AIs and humans can understand each other. In doing so, they illustrate ways in which that philosophical tradition can be improved. The questions addressed in the book are not only theoretically interesting, but the answers have pressing practical implications. (...)
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  • Why Go for a Computation-Based Approach to Cognitive Representation.Dimitri Coelho Mollo - 2021 - Synthese 199 (3-4):6875-6895.
    An influential view in cognitive science is that computation in cognitive systems is semantic, conceptually depending on representation: to compute is to manipulate representations. I argue that accepting the non-semantic teleomechanistic view of computation lays the ground for a promising alternative strategy, in which computation helps to explain and naturalise representation, rather than the other way around. I show that this computation-based approach to representation presents six decisive advantages over the semantic view. I claim that it can improve the two (...)
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  • Structural Representations Do Not Meet the Job Description Challenge.Marco Facchin - 2021 - Synthese 199 (3-4):5479-5508.
    Structural representations are increasingly popular in philosophy of cognitive science. A key virtue they seemingly boast is that of meeting Ramsey's job description challenge. For this reason, structural representations appear tailored to play a clear representational role within cognitive architectures. Here, however, I claim that structural representations do not meet the job description challenge. This is because even our most demanding account of their functional profile is satisfied by at least some receptors, which paradigmatically fail the job description challenge. Hence, (...)
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  • First-Person Representations and Responsible Agency in AI.Miguel Ángel Sebastián & Fernando Rudy-Hiller - 2021 - Synthese 199 (3-4):7061-7079.
    In this paper I investigate which of the main conditions proposed in the moral responsibility literature are the ones that spell trouble for the idea that Artificial Intelligence Systems could ever be full-fledged responsible agents. After arguing that the standard construals of the control and epistemic conditions don’t impose any in-principle barrier to AISs being responsible agents, I identify the requirement that responsible agents must be aware of their own actions as the main locus of resistance to attribute that kind (...)
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  • Representational Similarity Analysis in Neuroimaging: Proxy Vehicles and Provisional Representations.Adina L. Roskies - 2021 - Synthese 199 (3-4):5917-5935.
    Functional neuroimaging is sometimes criticized as showing only where in the brain things happen, not how they happen, and thus being unable to inform us about questions of mental and neural representation. Novel analytical methods increasingly make clear that imaging can give us access to constructs of interest to psychology. In this paper I argue that neuroimaging can give us an important, if limited, window into the large-scale structure of neural representation. I describe Representational Similarity Analysis, increasingly used in neuroimaging (...)
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  • Modelling Ourselves: What the Free Energy Principle Reveals About Our Implicit Notions of Representation.Matt Sims & Giovanni Pezzulo - 2021 - Synthese 199 (3-4):7801-7833.
    Predictive processing theories are increasingly popular in philosophy of mind; such process theories often gain support from the Free Energy Principle —a normative principle for adaptive self-organized systems. Yet there is a current and much discussed debate about conflicting philosophical interpretations of FEP, e.g., representational versus non-representational. Here we argue that these different interpretations depend on implicit assumptions about what qualifies as representational. We deploy the Free Energy Principle instrumentally to distinguish four main notions of representation, which focus on organizational, (...)
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  • Communication Before Communicative Intention.Josh Armstrong - forthcoming - Noûs.
    This paper explores the significance of intelligent social behavior among non-human animals for philosophical theories of communication. Using the alarm call system of vervet monkeys as a case study, I argue that interpersonal communication (or what I call “minded communication”) can and does take place in the absence of the production and recognition of communicative intentions. More generally, I argue that evolutionary theory provides good reasons for maintaining that minded communication is both temporally and explanatorily prior to the use of (...)
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  • Perceptual Existentialism Sustained.Christopher S. Hill - 2021 - Erkenntnis 86 (6):1391-1410.
    There are two main accounts of what it is for external objects to be presented in visual experience. According to particularism, particular objects are built into the representational contents of experiences. Existentialism is a quite different view. According to existentialism, the representational contents of perceptual experiences are general rather than particular, in the sense that the contents can be fully captured by existentially quantified statements. The present paper is a defense of existentialism. It argues that existentialism is much better equipped (...)
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  • Contents, Vehicles, and Complex Data Analysis in Neuroscience.Daniel C. Burnston - 2020 - Synthese 199 (1-2):1617-1639.
    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. Still, I am (...)
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  • Weighing in on Decisions in the Brain: Neural Representations of Pre-Awareness Practical Intention.Robyn Repko Waller - 2021 - Synthese 199 (1-2):5175-5203.
    Neuroscientists have located brain activity that prepares or encodes action plans before agents are aware of intending to act. On the basis of these findings and broader agency research, activity in these regions has been proposed as the neural realizers of practical intention. My aim in this paper is to evaluate the case for taking these neural states to be neural representations of intention. I draw on work in philosophy of action on the role and nature of practical intentions to (...)
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  • Compositionality and Context in Perception (Draft).Kevin J. Lande - manuscript
    A compositional theory of perceptual representations would explain how the accuracy conditions of a given type of perceptual state depend on the contents of constituent perceptual representations and the way those constituents are structurally related. Such a theory would offer a basic framework for understanding the nature, grounds, and epistemic significance of perception. But an adequate semantics of perceptual representations must accommodate the holistic nature of perception. In particular, perception is replete with context effects, in which the way one perceptually (...)
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  • The Limits of the Doxastic.Tim Crane & Katalin Farkas - forthcoming - Oxford Studies in Philosophy of Mind.
    It is usual to distinguish between two kinds of doxastic attitude: standing or dispositional states, which govern our actions and persist throughout changes in consciousness; and conscious episodes of acknowledging the truth of a proposition. What is the relationship between these two kinds of attitude? Normally, the conscious episodes are in harmony with the underlying dispositions, but sometimes they come apart and we act in a way that is contrary to our explicit conscious judgements. Philosophers have often tried to explain (...)
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  • A Dual Proposal Of Minimal Conditions For Intentionality.Sérgio Farias de Souza Filho - forthcoming - Synthese.
    Naturalist theories of representation have been attacked on the grounds of being too liberal on the minimal conditions for intentionality: they treat several states that are not representational as genuine representations. Behind this attack lies the problem of demarcation: what are the minimal conditions for intentionality that a state should satisfy to be genuinely representational? What are the limits of intentionality? This paper develops a dual proposal to solve this problem. First, I defend the explanatory role criterion in order to (...)
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  • Are Generative Models Structural Representations?Marco Facchin - 2021 - Minds and Machines 31 (2):277-303.
    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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  • Signals Are Minimal Causes.Marc Artiga - 2020 - Synthese 198 (9):8581-8599.
    Although the definition of ‘signal’ has been controversial for some time within the life sciences, current approaches seem to be converging toward a common analysis. This powerful framework can satisfactorily accommodate many cases of signaling and captures some of its main features. This paper argues, however, that there is a central feature of signals that so far has been largely overlooked: its special causal role. More precisely, I argue that a distinctive feature of signals is that they are minimal causes. (...)
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  • An Extra-Mathematical Program Explanation of Color Experience.Nicholas Danne - 2021 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 33 (3):153-173.
    In the debate over whether mathematical facts, properties, or entities explain physical events, Aidan Lyon’s affirmative answer...
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  • Structural and Indicator Representations: A Difference in Degree, Not Kind.Gregory Nirshberg & Lawrence Shapiro - 2020 - Synthese 198 (8):7647-7664.
    Some philosophers have offered structural representations as an alternative to indicator-based representations. Motivating these philosophers is the belief that an indication-based analysis of representation exhibits two fatal inadequacies from which structural representations are spared: such an analysis cannot account for the causal role of representational content and cannot explain how representational content can be made determinate. In fact, we argue, indicator and structural representations are on a par with respect to these two problems. This should not be surprising, we contend, (...)
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  • Similarity-Based Cognition: Radical Enactivism Meets Cognitive Neuroscience.Miguel Segundo-Ortin & Daniel D. Hutto - 2019 - Synthese 198 (Suppl 1):1-19.
    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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  • The Descent of Preferences.David Spurrett - 2021 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 72 (2):485-510.
    More attention has been devoted to providing evolutionary accounts of the development of beliefs, or belief-like states, than for desires or preferences. Here I articulate and defend an evolutionary rationale for the development of psychologically real preference states. Preferences token or represent the expected values available actions given discriminated states of world and agent. The argument is an application of the ‘environmental complexity thesis’ found in Godfrey-Smith and Sterelny, although my conclusions differ from Sterelny’s. I argue that tokening expected utilities (...)
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  • A Neuroscience Levels of Explanation Approach to the Mind and the Brain.Edmund T. Rolls - forthcoming - Frontiers in Computational Neuroscience.
    The relation between mental states and brain states is important in computational neuroscience, and in psychiatry in which interventions with medication are made on brain states to alter mental states. The relation between the brain and the mind has puzzled philosophers for centuries. Here a neuroscience approach is proposed in which events at the sub-neuronal, neuronal, and neuronal network levels take place simultaneously to perform a computation that can be described at a high level as a mental state, with content (...)
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  • Imperative Transparency.Manolo Martínez - forthcoming - Mind.
    I respond to an objection recently formulated by Barlassina and Hayward against first-order imperativism about pain, according to which it cannot account for the self-directed motivational force of pain. I am going to agree with them: it cannot. This is because pain does not have self-directed motivational force. I will argue that the alternative view (that pain is about dealing with extramental, bodily threats; not about dealing with itself) makes better sense of introspection, and of empirical research on pain avoidance. (...)
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  • Inference and the Structure of Concepts.Matías Osta Vélez - 2020 - Dissertation, Ludwig Maximilians Universität, München
    This thesis studies the role of conceptual content in inference and reasoning. The first two chapters offer a theoretical and historical overview of the relation between inference and meaning in philosophy and psychology. In particular, a critical analysis of the formality thesis, i.e., the idea that rational inference is a rule-based and topic-neutral mechanism, is advanced. The origins of this idea in logic and its influence in philosophy and cognitive psychology are discussed. Chapter 3 consists of an analysis of the (...)
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  • Sensory Modalities and Novel Features of Perceptual Experiences.Douglas C. Wadle - 2021 - Synthese 198 (10):9841-9872.
    Is the flavor of mint reducible to the minty smell, the taste, and the menthol-like coolness on the roof of one’s mouth, or does it include something over and above these—something not properly associated with any one of the contributing senses? More generally, are there features of perceptual experiences—so-called novel features—that are not associated with any of our senses taken singly? This question has received a lot of attention of late. Yet surprisingly little attention has been paid to the question (...)
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  • Mental Imagery.Nigel J. T. Thomas - 2001 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
    Mental imagery (varieties of which are sometimes colloquially refered to as “visualizing,” “seeing in the mind's eye,” “hearing in the head,” “imagining the feel of,” etc.) is quasi-perceptual experience; it resembles perceptual experience, but occurs in the absence of the appropriate external stimuli. It is also generally understood to bear intentionality (i.e., mental images are always images of something or other), and thereby to function as a form of mental representation. Traditionally, visual mental imagery, the most discussed variety, was thought (...)
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  • Two Kinds of Information Processing in Cognition.Mark Sprevak - 2020 - Review of Philosophy and Psychology 11 (3):591-611.
    What is the relationship between information and representation? Dating back at least to Dretske, an influential answer has been that information is a rung on a ladder that gets one to representation. Representation is information, or representation is information plus some other ingredient. In this paper, I argue that this approach oversimplifies the relationship between information and representation. If one takes current probabilistic models of cognition seriously, information is connected to representation in a new way. It enters as a property (...)
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  • A Deflationary Account of Mental Representation.Frances Egan - 2020 - 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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  • Biological functions and natural selection: a reappraisal.Marc Artiga - 2021 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 11 (2):1-22.
    The goal of this essay is to assess the Selected-Effects Etiological Theory of biological function, according to which a trait has a function F if and only if it has been selected for F. First, I argue that this approach should be understood as describing the paradigm case of functions, rather than as establishing necessary and sufficient conditions for function possession. I contend that, interpreted in this way, the selected-effects approach can explain two central properties of functions and can satisfactorily (...)
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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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  • Is Radically Enactive Imagination Really Contentless?Marco Facchin - forthcoming - Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences:1-17.
    Radical enactivists claim that cognition is split in two distinct kinds, which can be differentiated by how they relate to mental content. In their view, basic cognitive activities involve no mental content whatsoever, whereas linguistically scaffolded, non-basic, cognitive activities constitutively involve the manipulation of mental contents. Here, I evaluate how this dichotomy applies to imagination, arguing that the sensory images involved in basic acts of imaginations qualify as vehicles of content, contrary to what radical enactivists claim. To argue so, I (...)
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  • Explicit nonconceptual metacognition.Peter Carruthers - 2021 - Philosophical Studies 178 (7):2337-2356.
    The goal of this paper is to explore forms of metacognition that have rarely been discussed in the extensive psychological and philosophical literatures on the topic. These would comprise explicit instances of meta-representation of some set of mental states or processes in oneself, but without those representations being embedded in anything remotely resembling a theory of mind, and independent of deployment of any sort of concept-like representation of the mental. Following a critique of some extant suggestions made by Nicholas Shea, (...)
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  • The State Space of Artificial Intelligence.Holger Lyre - 2020 - Minds and Machines 30 (3):325-347.
    The goal of the paper is to develop and propose a general model of the state space of AI. Given the breathtaking progress in AI research and technologies in recent years, such conceptual work is of substantial theoretical interest. The present AI hype is mainly driven by the triumph of deep learning neural networks. As the distinguishing feature of such networks is the ability to self-learn, self-learning is identified as one important dimension of the AI state space. Another dimension is (...)
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  • New Labels for Old Ideas: Predictive Processing and the Interpretation of Neural Signals.Rosa Cao - 2020 - Review of Philosophy and Psychology 11 (3):517-546.
    Philosophical proponents of predictive processing cast the novelty of predictive models of perception in terms of differences in the functional role and information content of neural signals. However, they fail to provide constraints on how the crucial semantic mapping from signals to their informational contents is determined. Beyond a novel interpretative gloss on neural signals, they have little new to say about the causal structure of the system, or even what statistical information is carried by the signals. That means that (...)
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  • Does Proper Function Come in Degrees?John Matthewson - 2020 - Biology and Philosophy 35 (4):1-18.
    Natural selection comes in degrees. Some biological traits are subjected to stronger selective force than others, selection on particular traits waxes and wanes over time, and some groups can only undergo an attenuated kind of selective process. This has downstream consequences for any notions that are standardly treated as binary but depend on natural selection. For instance, the proper function of a biological structure can be defined as what caused that structure to be retained by natural selection in the past. (...)
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  • A Role for Representations in Inflexible Behavior.Todd Ganson - 2020 - Biology and Philosophy 35 (4):1-18.
    Representationalists have routinely expressed skepticism about the idea that inflexible responses to stimuli are to be explained in representational terms. Representations are supposed to be more than just causal mediators in the chain of events stretching from stimulus to response, and it is difficult to see how the sensory states driving reflexes are doing more than playing the role of causal intermediaries. One popular strategy for distinguishing representations from mere causal mediators is to require that representations are decoupled from specific (...)
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  • Representing the Mind as Such in Infancy.Peter Carruthers - 2020 - Review of Philosophy and Psychology 11 (4):765-781.
    Tyler Burge claims in a recent high-profile publication that none of the existing evidence for mental-state attribution by children prior to the age of four or five really supports such a conclusion; and he makes this claim, not just for beliefs, but for mental states of all sorts. In its place, he offers an explanatory framework according to which infants and young children attribute mere information-registering states and teleologically-characterized motivational states, which are said to lack the defining properties of the (...)
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  • In Defense of the Semantic View of Computation.Oron Shagrir - 2020 - Synthese 197 (9):4083-4108.
    The semantic view of computation is the claim that semantic properties play an essential role in the individuation of physical computing systems such as laptops and brains. The main argument for the semantic view rests on the fact that some physical systems simultaneously implement different automata at the same time, in the same space, and even in the very same physical properties. Recently, several authors have challenged this argument. They accept the premise of simultaneous implementation but reject the semantic conclusion. (...)
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  • Neural Oscillations as Representations.Marc Artiga & Manolo Martínez - forthcoming - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science.
    We explore the contribution made by oscillatory, synchronous neural activity to representation in the brain. We closely examine six prominent examples of brain function in which neural oscillations play a central role, and identify two levels of involvement that these oscillations take in the emergence of representations: enabling (when oscillations help to establish a communication channel between sender and receiver, or are causally involved in triggering a representation) and properly representational (when oscillations are a constitutive part of the representation). -/- (...)
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  • Models, Information and Meaning.Marc Artiga - 2020 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 82:101284.
    There has recently been an explosion of formal models of signalling, which have been developed to learn about different aspects of meaning. This paper discusses whether that success can also be used to provide an original naturalistic theory of meaning in terms of information or some related notion. In particular, it argues that, although these models can teach us a lot about different aspects of content, at the moment they fail to support the idea that meaning just is some kind (...)
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  • Deflationary Realism: Representation and Idealisation in Cognitive Science.Dimitri Coelho Mollo - forthcoming - Mind and Language:1-19.
    Debate on the nature of representation in cognitive systems tends to oscillate between robustly realist views and various anti-realist options. I defend an alternative view, deflationary realism, which sees cognitive representation as an offshoot of the extended application to cognitive systems of an explanatory model whose primary domain is public representation use. This extended application, justified by a common explanatory target, embodies idealisations, partial mismatches between model and reality. By seeing representation as part of an idealised model, deflationary realism avoids (...)
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  • What Makes Neurophysiology Meaningful? Semantic Content Ascriptions in Insect Navigation Research.Kelle Dhein - 2020 - Biology and Philosophy 35 (5):1-22.
    In the course of investigating the living world, biologists regularly attribute semantic content to the phenomena they study. In this paper, I examine the case of a contemporary research program studying the navigation behaviors of ants and develop an account of the norms governing researchers’ ascriptions of semantic content in their research practices. The account holds that researchers assign semantic content to behaviors that reliably achieve a difficult goal-directed function, and it also suggests a productive role for attributions of semantic (...)
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