Liberal Representationalism: A Deflationist Defense

Dialectica 70 (3):407-430 (2016)
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Abstract
The idea that only complex brains can possess genuine representations is an important element in mainstream philosophical thinking. An alternative view, which I label ‘liberal representationalism’, holds that we should accept the existence of many more full-blown representations, from activity in retinal ganglion cells to the neural states produced by innate releasing mechanisms in cognitively unsophisticated organisms. A promising way of supporting liberal representationalism is to show it to be a consequence of our best naturalistic theories of representation. However, several philosophers and scientists have recently argued against this strategy. In the paper I counter these objections in defense of liberal representationalism.
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