Varieties of representation in evolved and embodied neural networks

Biology and Philosophy 18 (1):95-130 (2003)
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Abstract

  In this paper I discuss one of the key issuesin the philosophy of neuroscience:neurosemantics. The project of neurosemanticsinvolves explaining what it means for states ofneurons and neural systems to haverepresentational contents. Neurosemantics thusinvolves issues of common concern between thephilosophy of neuroscience and philosophy ofmind. I discuss a problem that arises foraccounts of representational content that Icall ``the economy problem'': the problem ofshowing that a candidate theory of mentalrepresentation can bear the work requiredwithin in the causal economy of a mind and anorganism. My approach in the current paper isto explore this and other key themes inneurosemantics through the use of computermodels of neural networks embodied and evolvedin virtual organisms. The models allow for thelaying bare of the causal economies of entireyet simple artificial organisms so that therelations between the neural bases of, forinstance, representation in perception andmemory can be regarded in the context of anentire organism. On the basis of thesesimulations, I argue for an account ofneurosemantics adequate for the solution of theeconomy problem

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Pete Mandik
William Paterson University of New Jersey

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