How to think about mental content

Philosophical Studies 170 (1):115-135 (2014)
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Abstract
Introduction: representationalismMost theorists of cognition endorse some version of representationalism, which I will understand as the view that the human mind is an information-using system, and that human cognitive capacities are representational capacities. Of course, notions such as ‘representation’ and ‘information-using’ are terms of art that require explication. As a first pass, representations are “mediating states of an intelligent system that carry information” (Markman and Dietrich 2001, p. 471). They have two important features: (1) they are physically realized, and so have causal powers; (2) they are intentional, in other words, they have meaning or representational content. This presumes a distinction between a representational vehicle—a physical state or structure that has causal powers and is responsible for producing behavior—and its content. Consider the following characterization of a device that computes the addition functionReaders will recognize the similarity t
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