A role for representations in inflexible behavior

Biology and Philosophy 35 (4):1-18 (2020)
Download Edit this record How to cite View on PhilPapers
Abstract
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 stimulus conditions. I believe this requirement on representation is mistaken and at odds with explanatory practices in sensory ecology. Even when sensory states have the job of coordinating a specific output with a specific input, we can still find them doing the work of representations, carrying information needed for organisms to respond successfully to environmental conditions. We can uncover information at work by intervening specifically on the information conveyed by sensory states, leaving their causal role undisturbed.
Keywords
No keywords specified (fix it)
ISBN(s)
PhilPapers/Archive ID
GANARF-4
Revision history
Archival date: 2020-06-29
View upload history
References found in this work BETA

View all 30 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Added to PP index
2020-06-28

Total views
10 ( #50,729 of 50,067 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
10 ( #41,355 of 50,067 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Downloads since first upload
This graph includes both downloads from PhilArchive and clicks to external links.